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Serving guests

1)    People are offered the serving dishes from the left, starting with the lady to the right of the lady of the house. All the ladies are served and then the lady of the house. Then the man to the right of the lady of the house, the other men and finally the host are served.

2)  Generally, each guest serves herself or himself directly from the serving dish, which is proffered without placing fingers around the edges. The serving cutlery must be turned towards the guest.

3)   Wine is served from the right after the first round of starters and the glass should be only half-filled. Waiters or the host will add wine every so often, always keeping the wine in the glass at the same level. And remember that the glass has to be changed when the wine is changed.

4)   The plates are changed with each course, but only when all the guests have finished.

5)  The plate is taken away from the right, any underplate being left on the tablecloth. The new plate, which will have been heated in a switched-off but still warm oven if the food is hot, is placed on the underplate from the left.

6)    The main course should be served twice. The guests do not overfill their plates the first time round so that they can accept the second “round”. If only one guests serves himself or herself again, at least one of the hosts will also spontaneously have a second helping so that the guest does not feel awkward.

7)   Broth served in individual cups, soup, cheese and fruit are served just once.

8)    The side dish for bread should be placed to the upper left of the plate. Replenish the bread on guest’s plate promptly, taking the bread from the bread basket or wooden board with a pair of tongs.

9)    Before dessert, remove the remaining bread and any plates holding bread and any wine glasses that are no longer needed; but the water glasses and any dessert wine glasses should be left on the table.

10)  Lastly, time the sequence of courses correctly: remember that your guests must not fall asleep but they must not feel that they are in a race either!

Taken from “Il Galateo Oggi” by Roberta Bellinzaghi – published by De Vecchi Editore