OF SPOONS AND FORKS
Dining etiquette has a big effect on one’s social standing. It also tends to go a long way in helping one make a lasting first impression. This is why it’s important to inculcate good table manners at an early age says Zohra Chitalwala
Dining etiquette has a big effect on one’s social standing
Have you ever been disgusted at the site of someone talking to you with food in their mouth? Let’s then talk about the smacks, slurps and burps that are a common site at even well-established restaurants. The truth is, there’s never a dearth of unrefined, ill-mannered people all around, but the fact is, you can’t blame them. They haven’t been taught otherwise. Good dining skills are important throughout a person’s life. But the key is to start young. After all, eating and socialising are intertwined in our culture, and the two are mutually exclusive, for the most part. Moreover, having a well- behaved child, particularly one that knows his table manners, is always a pleasure to be around. If that’s not all, add to that the fact that a child who can independently manage himself at dinner time, makes his parents proud. Of course, it’s up to the parents to encourage and teach their children well, and perhaps lead by example, if the situation calls for it. But first, it’s important to understand some common dining problems kids usually have at the table: Their inability to focus on anything aside from the food in front of them. Eating and chewing with their mouths open.
Using the right cutlery for the right course. Their inability to correctly hold the cutlery
Now, making a game out of proper behaviour at the dining table can go a long way. It will help them see that table manners are, in fact, valuable, fun and sometimes even a rewarding skill to possess.
Some dining etiquette to remember:
1) All tableware should be one knuckles-length away from the bottom edge of the table. Organisation, especially when setting the table is just as important as it is in other aspects of life. In a way, it’s just like making a lasting first impression.
2) It’s important to teach kids exactly where the cutlery is placed. Knives and spoons both go to the right of the plate with the knife blade facing the plate. The spoon goes next to the knife. Soup is one of the few foods that one should eat with a spoon. Fork is the proper tool for most foods: one can both cut and eat with a fork.
3) The two main styles of eating with a fork and knife are the European style and American style. They’re easily distinguished by the way one holds the cutlery. In the European style the cutlery doesn’t switch hands. The fork always remains in the left hand and the knife in the right. In the American style the dominant movement is the right hand which holds the fork. When one is required to use the knife to cut up the food, the diner tends to switch the form to the left hand, and once done, switched the fork back to the right hand to eat with.
4) There are a few don’ts when it comes to how one must conduct oneself at mealtime. For example, talking while you have food in your mouth is unacceptable. People also tend to wave cutlery as they gesture during a conversation. This is considered rude and a definite no-no. Instead, place the cutlery on your plate, swallow the food in your mouth and then speak. Another don’t is slouching and placing one’s elbows on the table while at dinner. All of these are considered bad table manners. If worked on from a young age, a child will always keep it in mind.
5) Mobile devices should never be placed on the table and they should be turned off. If parents start adopting this practice, children will learn to do the same. The only exception allowed is when children are dinning out with anyone other than their parents, and a parent might need to reach them. Only under certain circumstances should the use of phones be permitted. However, they must be placed on vibrate mode and kept in their pockets, not on the table.
6) When dining with others, body language is important. Your body should be facing the table, not sideways. Your feet should be on the floor or as close to it as you can get with your back straight against the chair. If you’re sitting at a bench make sure your back is straight. Elbows don’t belong on the table, though you can rest your wrists on it. For kids, make sure they refrain from shaking their dangling legs, considering they’re not tall enough to reach the floor.
7) For most people, most of their dining experiences take place in informal settings. Whether at a casual dining restaurant or lunch hour at school, most meals entail sitting among family and friends. However, this does not negate the importance of having good table manners. Practicing good manners on a regular basis will help form the habit and can last a lifetime.
8) There are certain everyday dining situations, for example, in which you can eat with your hands. Foods as pizza, hamburgers, chicken fingers, French fries and some sandwiches don’t require utensils.
9) Remember, when you eat, take small bites of your food. This way, you won’t chew with your mouth open, and you won’t create a mess.
10) At restaurants or even at home, remember to take small sips of milk or water. Avoind gulping it down. Helping you child adopt the right dining etiquette plays a very important role in moulding his personality and grooming him for the future. This is precisely why you should lead by example and pave the way for a much-needed life skill.
Zohra Chitalwala is the founder and director of Image2Image Consultation on grooming, appearance, behaviour and communication skills. From hair care, skincare, beauty, fitness and fashion, Zohra Chitalwala uses innovative methods to enhance an individual’s style quotient and body language in a manner that helps empower them.