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Vocabulary: table manners
Sharing a meal with a person, or simply having the meal with people who are not part of your close family circle is a very «important» and frequent action. In fact, quite often, we happen to leave our daily reassuring routine and we then have to adjust to other people's habits in order to face exceptional circumstances, some new places, or simply cope with some new people.
Sharing a meal abroad is quite often a source of worry, or even of anguish... What should be done in order to make sure to respect the traditions of the country, without offending the inhabitants, or even hurting them without knowing it?
I) Laying the table / setting the table:
Whether you are a guest or you play the host, the table will have been laid respecting some very strict rules.
USEFUL VOCABULARY: (to lay, laid, laid the table)
|Salad fork/ appetizer fork||dinner knife||table spoon|
|fish knife||soup spoon|
|Fish fork (oyster fork)||steak knife||dessert spoon|
|Dessert fork||butter knife||sundae spoon|
|tea/ coffee spoon|
|Bread plate (side plate)||wine glass|
|Soup plate||water glass|
|Dinner plate||champagne flute|
|Dessert plate||brandy glass|
II) How to use the utensils in front of you?
When there's an accumulation of several utensils (cutlery, plates or glasses).
- "Work from the outside in" if there are utensils on both the right and left sides of the plate, you'll start with what's furthest right and furthest left, and gradually work closer to the plate.
- If all else fails, just watch what everyone else is doing.
- On the left, the "dinner fork," to be used for the main course = the one furthest from the plate is meant for a salad or appetizer.
- A dinner knife will be directly to the right of the plate, with the blade facing toward it; next to that will be two spoons. The soup spoon is furthest to the right; the dessert spoon (or teaspoon) is between the soupspoon and the knife.
- Your glass should be positioned directly above the dinner knife. Subsequent glasses should be placed to the right.
- You may have a small salad plate to the left of the forks.
- You might have a small bread plate to the upper-left of the dinner plate, with a small butter knife. Use the butter knife to take a pat of butter and put it on your plate; then use the knife to spread "your" butter onto the bread.
- A dessert spoon or fork might be placed horizontally above the dinner plate.
- A cup and saucer (if you're drinking coffee or tea) should be placed just above and to the right of the knife and spoons.
For a formal meal: (serving fish or oysters)
- You might have a small fish fork between the dinner fork and the plate, if a fish course is being served.
- You might have a fish knife between the dinner knife and the soup spoon, if you require one for a fish course.
- You might have a small oyster fork on the far right side of the utensils to the right of the plate, if you'll be eating an oyster course.
- Glasses are placed according to type in a formal place setting.The one directly above your dinner knife is your water glass; to the right of that is a red or white wine glass, and then a sherry glass to the far right.
III) What TO DO or NOT TO DO when having a meal?
1. Don't put your elbows on the table when you're eating. Ideally, put your hands on your lap.
2. Ask for someone to pass you a dish or a seasoning. Never reach across a dish or someone else's plate to reach something; instead, politely ask the person sitting next to you to "please pass the sauce."
3. Don't chew with your mouth open. It's an obvious rule, but one that's easy to forget when you're enjoying a delicious meal.
4. Say "excuse me" whenever you need to leave the table. If you are a child or teenage, then ask an elder.
IV) Respect "Table Manners".
When having a break, or at the end of the meal, don't forget to place the utensils correctly. These places are codes for the people serving, indicating whether you have finished the dish, or not.
If you follow this advice, I'm sure you will appreciate your meals and will be feeling like at home. Have wonderful meals...
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