How to have Good Table Manners

How to have Good Table Manners

We often hear those good manners are lost. Especially at the table. But do we really know them?

At the moment

Talking with your mouth full, answering your mobile phone in the middle of a meal or throwing yourself on bread while waiting for the main course to arrive are all clumsiness that you avoid – most of the time. But if we feel we know the basic rules of good manners, are we sure we know them all? A short course on good manners with Laurence Caracalla, journalist and author of the book Le savoir-vivre de la Parisienne, published by Éditions Grasset.

Never “good appetite”, of course.

The slip-up can happen as soon as the invitation is sent. “The question “Are you coming to eat with us tonight?” is already a mistake in itself,” says Laurence Caracalla. We’re not talking about “eating” but about tasting or breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner,” she explains. The term “eat” means to put something in your mouth, chew it, swallow it and digest it.

However, at the table, the rule is never to talk about what is happening in our stomachs. “In the same way, you never wish a “bon appétit !” before dinner. And for good reason, the expression “good appetite” means talking about digestion, wishing the other person a “good gastric flow”. It is better to use a polite formula such as “it looks delicious”, the journalist advises.

We respect the famous quarter of an hour of politeness

At what time should you arrive if you are invited to dinner? 15 minutes after the time announced by your host, the tradition has not changed. “This is called a quarter of an hour of politeness,” the author explains. It thus allows the mistress or hostess to finalize the final preparations without rushing into each other. It’s said!

Visible forearms and princely posture

Beinghave is one of the first rules to be respected in society, it is what we are taught as children, and “it is the basics of good manners,” Laurence Caracalla reports. It is essential to stand up straight like an I when sitting at the table, as your back should not touch the back of the chair. The forearms (and not the elbows), must also be visible,” continues the specialist.

Do not push food with a knife

“You only use your knife to cut meat or fish,” explains the decorum expert. “For the rest, whether it’s vegetables or even a quiche lorraine, you use your fork. To push food onto the plate, even in battle, you don’t use the blade of your Opinel. As much as possible, we use a small piece of bread.

Avoid absences

Another mistake to avoid according to our specialist is to be absent during dinner. “The toilet is before dinner, SMS and other phone calls are after dinner,” she insists. Answering the phone during dinner is extremely rude. It reminds your host that you have better things to do than to share this moment of conviviality. In an emergency, the host is called to the attention of his host to inform him that he must leave the table for a few minutes with an apology.

The fork, never on the edge of the plate

In case of a break in the middle of a meal, it is out of the question to place your cutlery on the edge of the plate or to keep it in your hands. “You use a knife rest, if there is one, otherwise you put your knife directly on the tablecloth,” says Laurence Caracalla. As for the fork, it is placed transversely on the plate (as at the end of the meal)”.

Do not fold your towel at the end of the meal

Another commandment to shine in society: never fold your towel back at the end of the meal. “Wiping does not mean cleaning up,” the author insists. We discreetly stamp our mouths by sneaking on our lips. Especially when you drink wine”. Second, you never fold your napkin at the end of a meal: “it’s a sign that you think you’ll come back the next day and use it again”. It is therefore carelessly placed on the table, without regard to its shape.

Gentlemen, it is up to you to serve the wine

It is customary (a little dated) that women should not touch a bottle of alcohol. Men and especially guests should pay attention to their guests’ empty glasses and serve them again if necessary. “The rule always applies at social gatherings,” she says.

Use small portions

Even if you are hungry, it is better to bet on small portions – even if it means serving yourself again – than to look like a glutton. Except with cheese, the only dish that has not been prepared by your hosts. “Taking it back would mean that not only did you not enjoy their food, but you didn’t eat enough,” warns Laurence Caracalla.

You can always circumvent the rule with a little sentence like: “Oh it was good this cheese, even if it’s not okay to eat it again and I enjoyed it tonight, I can’t resist this flowing pie”. “The important thing in society is to show that you know the rules,” concludes the pope of good manners.

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