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Table manners

Whether it be a formal or informal occasion, whether you are the host or the guest, if you want to make a good impression, it is important to know what good table manners are. First impressions count. Here is a list of clear rules to follow to maintain decorum at table without losing spontaneity.

1)    Whether in the restaurant or at home, a gallant gesture that is never out of fashion is for the man to pull out the chair for his companion or ladies present so that they can sit down easily.

2)    The napkin must be laid on the lap without being extended completely. When you get up from the table, place it to the left of the plate, closing it without folding it.

3)    Between one course and the next, keep your hands on the table, with your elbows close to your body.

4)   Do not eye up the plates of other people to try to bargain for titbits.

5)    Help yourself to bread only after the food has been served. Never cut it with a knife but break it and take one small mouthful at a time, trying not to cover your part of the table in crumbs. Bread sticks are eaten without being broken first.

6)    Do not stretch over the table for the water: it is much easier to ask for it.

7)    Never push something to another guest by moving in front of your neighbour.

8)    You should not use bread to mop up the sauce left on the plate as a rule; only in the family is it allowed provided that you use a fork and not your fingers to mop up.

9)   Do not put your fork into the serving dish to serve yourself.

10)  If you do not wish for a dish, pass the serving dish on directly to your neighbour or just say “no thank you” to the waiter. But you should not refuse food offered in individual plates: if necessary, just take a mouthful and leave the rest.

11)   If wine or water are served, never raise the glass to the bottle and never dilute the wine with water.

12)  Do not empty the wine in one go but take several draughts and remember to dry your lips after drinking. Do not throw your head backwards when drinking.

13)  Never remove any food from the mouth. The only exceptions are small bones and fish bones.

14)  Do not move a used plate whilst waiting for it to be removed from the table.

15)  Any liquid food that is served in a cup with handles should be drunk from the cup.

16)  Do not make a noise whilst you are chewing and do not “suck up” food in a broth. You can tilt the bowl slightly to collect the remaining food with your spoon. But in this case tilt the bottom of the bowl towards the centre of the table.

17)  Do not bend down to “go towards” the food, but take the food to your mouth and do not blow on food or drink that is too hot: wait for it to cool down.

18)  Do not drown the food in sauces but arrange them in the plate near the food. Do not bury food under grated cheese.

19)  Never help yourself to salt and pepper with your fingers or the tip of your knife. If necessary, ask for a spoon.

20)  Toothpicks are never acceptable.