Pet Peeves and Other Issues

Basic Table Manners

I am writing this blog/collection of essays, as I need an outlet besides my constant texting to my Mom and Best Friend about all that I observe when out and about, or on the news, and tv. For instance, I am a stickler for good (at the very least) service when I go out. I am disgusted by children, teenagers and adults who do not know basic table manners, etiquette, and how to function in a society where you are always being watched. Thank you social media. I am not perfect, nor do I pretend to be, but seriously one does not shovel food in their mouth and speak at the same time. That is gross and causes loss of appetite for everyone at the table and surrounding ones!! Even in your own house. It is gross!

This erks the crap out of me that people continue to be raised without the most common and basic of table manners. Table manners that are used by all humans regardless of wealth, race, education, from slums to mansions and everything in between. Table manners reflect who you are as a person without saying a word. If you don’t know how to behave at the meal table, you are judged before you open your mouth!!! You can be a multibillionaire and still eat like a pig in a pig sty!

Children must be taught these basics as soon as they start eating their meals with their parents, like when they are in high chairs. Blessing first. No one eats till the one who cooks the food aka hostess/host raises their fork (spoon if soup).

For someone whom loves to cook, and has had two years of culinary classes in college, I find it incredibly RUDE to season what has been served in front of you before even taking a bite. It is simply insulting. Many fine dining restaurants and gastro pubs, are doing away with salt & pepper on their dining tables to ensure that the diner eats the meal the way it was intended.

From Family Style meals (you know when the food is served in or on platters, bowls, trays, ect. Think Thanksgiving), when some reaches across from you to grab what they want, rather than asking you nicely to pass it to them. I hate it. Sorry for trying to eat or contribute to the conversation at hand, that you had to so rudely reach right through my personal dining space because you wanted more mashed potatoes! The polite and correct way, is to calmly ask me, when I am done chewing or speaking or drinking, for me to pass the item you would like to you and then, I graciously hold it for you while you serve yourself some. NOT you holding it than having to reach back across my dining space to return it to its place.

After speaking with your mouth full of food and the rest of those of us still able to muster a stomach to continue eating after we had the pleasure of seeing what your tongue turned your poor roast beef and peas into, the second grossest thing you can do at a table is spit your food out. Yes, there are times that you get a small bone, piece of gristle, or stem in our mouths when we are eating. However, etiquette states that whatever you used to put the food in your mouth, fork, spoon, or if fingers, your use that to take it out. Simply maneuver particle from your lips onto utensil or into fingers, deliciately and without causing a scene. Then place on the edge of your plate. Do not spit into napkin, especially if using a cloth napkin as the piece of whatever will fall into your lap or onto the floor. Gross.

Napkins. Go on your lap. Not leg, not underneath your leg or between them, grumbled up in your hand or left on the table. You take a bite, wipe your mouth, take a sip of your drink, wipe your mouth. Keep napkin neat and flat, rotating where you wipe. No one want to see what you are eating and drinking on your lips, corners of mouth or cheeks.

With that said, I need to back up remind how you set table and use the utensils on which are set. Don’t worry, this is just the basics for simple family dinner.

Left to right. Fork with napkin folded and placed under it. Space for plate. Knife and spoon. Beverage glass directly above the knife. When eating, the fork may be used in the American style (in the left hand while cutting and in the right hand to pick up food) or the European Continental style (fork always in the left hand) I prefer the European Style.  I know it is uncomfortable but, you must use your fork in left hand and knife in right. Constantly switching hands and utensils is a disturbance to the other diners.

No elbows, forearms, boobs, belly’s, leaning on the table. Use your core to hold yourself up. Do not lean on table with arm across your middle leaning on table using your other hand to shovel food into your mouth, and only using other hand to push food onto fork with fingers. Gross. We are not barnyard animals. Use your core! It is a great work out while at the table. Head up, Shoulders back! If you are not cutting your food, or using knife/spoon to put food in your mouth, drink from your class, your hand goes in your lap!!! Resting your arm on table while eating is argumentative and a sign that you are uncomfortable and want the meal over.

I find it absolutely insulting to be out to dinner/lunch or even in my home is when grown adults do not know the basics in manners. Case in point, when I was growing up, every night with the exception of Friday night pizza night, dinner was ate at the dining room table. It was set, candles lit and chairs have four legs (another issue I have but will get into that later), speak when spoken to and eat what you are served, even broccoli. We barley had enough money to pay for basketball shoes for me, but we ate dinner correctly and learned manners. To be honest, there were a LOT of fights at the table about manners, and dinners would be at times like WWIII. Unpleasant and sometimes hurtful. However, when my brother first went to have dinner at one of his girlfriend’s house while in high school, he came home and thanked our parents for teaching and enforcing table manners. He could not believe how impressed the parents of the girl were and how that made him feel. All the fighting paid off! So trust me, start manners early, you will make through all the fights, and the end result, and your child will grow into a pleasant mature adult, at least at the dinner table!

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