Dining Etiquette

It is believed that first published guide to dining etiquette was compiled by and Italian monk in the late 13th Century. Entitled “50 Courtesies of the Table,” it contained many useful dining tips. Among them was this timeless piece of advice:

“He who eats or is served must not blow his nose through his fingers.”

Dining etiquette has evolved substantially over the intervening 700 years. The following list highlights some basic Do’s and Don’ts that will serve you well in any dining situation:

  • Don’t bring drinks to the dining table
  • Do escort ladies to the gentleman’s left and help seat by holding her chair
  • Do use serving dish utensils, not those place at your setting
  • Don’t eat until all at the table have been served and the hostess (or table hostess at large banquets) begins
  • Do keep your elbows at your sides, not on the table or neighbor’s space
  • Do pass to the right using your left hand — receive with your right hand
  • Do pass salt and pepper together
  • Don’t saw, mash, or stir foods on your plate
  • Do follow the “if it drops, leave it” rule of thumb
  • Do break bread/rolls into small pieces, butter individually as consumed
  • Don’t dip your bread/rolls in gravy or sauces
  • Do hold your coffee cup by the handle and wine glasses by the stem
  • Don’t push your plate away when finished, let the wait staff remove it
  • Do place knife and fork in the center of the plate to signal completion of the course
  • Do wait for the hostess to signal the end of the meal before leaving the table
  • Don’t place your napkin on the table except at the end of the meal, place it on your chair.

These customs reflect western dining etiquette. Customs vary greatly from country to country. When hosting foreign visitors it is important to know something about their dining etiquette – mostly to avoid unknowingly offending your guests. One source of information are the Culturgrams published by Brigham Young University. They are available for purchase online at http://www.culturegrams.com.