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FloVoyager
06-23-2007, 06:17 PM
I have a character who has dinner at a world-class restaurant with some high-class folks. She also eats on a mega yacht owned by one of them. She comes from a working-class background, and has had some training in manners. Knows enough to put her napkin in her lap and not chew with her mouth full, that sort of thing. But what would she not know about meals at this societal level that could embarrass her, or them? What might she do that would raise those upper-crust eyebrows, or even stop conversation for a second or two?

I'm not necessarily talking about which fork to use, but subtler things--if there are any--average folks just wouldn't know.

Thanks :)

Erm, not to chew with her mouth open, that is.

Siddow
06-23-2007, 06:20 PM
She might eat the garnish.

scarletpeaches
06-23-2007, 06:26 PM
Elbows on the table perhaps?

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 06:56 PM
Reaching across the table instead of asking for something to be passed to her. (And in the movie Mrs. Winterbourne the main protag played by Rikki Lake was a trailer trash reject who was dining with a very posh older woman played by Shirley MacLaine and her poshy-posh snooty son played by Brendan Fraser. Rikki Lake made the error of congenially reaching across the dining table to shake hands in greeting with someone who just walked into the room.)

Eating someone else's bread and/or salad. If it's a ROUND dinner table instead of a RECTANGUILAR one--or (this happens also) if it's a SQUARE table set for a party of 4 (one person on each side)-- a VERY common error I have seen is someone to eat somene else's dinner roll or side salad. The rule of thumb is: drinks to your right, everything else (rolls, salad, etc) to your left. But at a round table, place settings tend to get smushed together and so the lines between where your own place setting ends and where someone else's begins can get blurred very easilly. So if you do not know the drinks-right/bread-n-salad-left rule, you might be inclined to take the roll/salad sitting at your right (especially if you are right-handed). I saw a business exec do this once when we were all in fine dining restaurant for a business meeting. The person to his right (whose roll he ate) said nothing and just proceeded with the meal, ignroing the fact that he had no bread now.

Drawing attention to manners. A truly uncouth person will merely THINK they have manners and refinement and will verbally spout various sections of "the rules" out loud to everyone.

Talking with animated hands and even brandishing utensils and waving them around in the air while gesturing with one's hands. (Self-explanataory.)

Offering one's leftovers/discard to others./Asking others if they will give her their leftovers/discards. While this is common practice in a lot of families, especially families that are trying to save money, it's a huge no-no in fine dining. Some classic no-no-examples: "I don't like shrimp. Anybody want my shrimp salad? I'm not gonna eat it." or "Aren't you gonna eat your rice? I love rice. I'll take it if you don't want it." or "Oh my gosh! This is incredible! Anyone want a taste?"

Spooning soup in the wrong direction. You are suppose to push your soup spoon away from you, not drag it toward you.

Incorrect handling of a too-hot food/drink that you just ate/drank. If you just placed into your mouth a piece of scalding hot food, or drank a hot beverage that proved far too hot, the correct response is to inconspicuously take your cold glass of ice water and sip a tempertaure-balancing measure to instantly douse the heat. And do NOT draw attention to yourself. The no-no list includes hollering out loud, spitting out the hot food/beverage, opening your mouth and loudly sucking in a huge helpig of air, fanning with your hand at your open mouth, etc.

Blowing on a forkful/spoonful of food to cool it down. (Self-explanatory.)

Starting to eat one's own food before everyone else has been served. (Self-explainatory.)

Picking up a dropped utensil. If you drop a utensil on the floor, leave it there! When the waiter comes by, discreetly ask him for another one. You're not supposed to get down underneath the table, poking around amongst the legs of your dining companions.

Inapropriate interaction with the serving staff. Being bossy to the servers looks like a power trip. Being too friendly/joking looks like flirtation.

Drawing attention to any faux pas (your own or someone else's). All faux pas are to be ignored and gotten past as quickly as possible. They shouldn't be discussed or revisted,.

::EDIT:: OOPS! I typed "avocado" when I should have types "artichoke!" :e2hammer: :e2paperba Thank you for pointing out my error, arrowqueen! :cool:


And then, the classic pit falls of escargot and avocado artichoke leaves. Eating escargot is an adventure (as shown in the film Pretty Woman). And avocado leaves are the ONLY sit-down food that I know of besides bread that you are allowed to eat with your fingers (there might be others, but it's all I know about). And the whole avocado artichoke leaf eating thing is a near art form.





Now, I know you said right and wrong fork didn't interest you, but every now and then a very odd piece of silverware presents itself. An uneducated person might ask about these odd utensils and betray their own ignorance.

- Escargot needs a specialized set of tongs.
- Grapefruit needs a special spoon (called a "grapefruit spoon") that has little teeth on the tip.
- A high class restaurant will hand you a chilled fork to go with your salad.
- There is a type of fork called a "fish fork," and the one tine found on the farthest left has an odd little notch on the tip so that you can use that tine to peel back the fish skin more easilly. (I often see this same fork used now adays as a desert fork also by fine dining restaurants.) Some of the truly old school restaurants will place the fish fork on the right side of the place setting. Seeing a fork on the right can be confusing to some people.



And then, glassware is another huge minefield!

The water glass.
The red wine glass.
The white wine glass.
The champagn glass.
The port/cordial glass.

And drinking milk at the dinner table is one of those things that "simply isn't done." Drinking milk is what children do. Adults drink either wine/alcohol, club soda, or water. For an adult to ask for milk is utterly laughable (the waiter will walk back into the kitchen to get your milk, and as he's pouring it he will viciously mock about you out loud to the entire kitchen--I have seen waiters do that in the restaurants I have worked at).

Azure Skye
06-23-2007, 07:05 PM
You might want to check out an Emily Post book. I remember leafing through one at the library and seeing information about table manners. It was informative. Made me feel like the country bumpkin that I am. Eeeekk!

JoNightshade
06-23-2007, 08:52 PM
And drinking milk at the dinner table is one of those things that "simply isn't done." Drinking milk is what children do. Adults drink either wine/alcohol, club soda, or water. For an adult to ask for milk is utterly laughable (the waiter will walk back into the kitchen to get your milk, and as he's pouring it he will viciously mock about you out loud to the entire kitchen--I have seen waiters do that in the restaurants I have worked at).

Oh, crud. I thought I was doing good until this point. I'm totally a milk drinker. ::Hides head in hands::

Akuma
06-23-2007, 08:53 PM
Blowing on a forkful/spoonful of food to cool it down. (Self-explanatory.)


Didn't think that was "uncouth".

S'pose I'll have to scald my tongue if I want to be a distinguished gentleman.

VickyH
06-23-2007, 09:44 PM
Here in the UK we have a fish knife and you never turn your fork around to pick up peas!

Jersey Chick
06-23-2007, 09:52 PM
Aren't you also not supposed to use your knife to scoop something onto a fork?

Also, when cutting up food, I think it's supposed to be done per bite, instead of chopping up an entire steak and then eating it.

And never, ever slurp the soup :)

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 09:52 PM
Oh, crud. I thought I was doing good until this point. I'm totally a milk drinker. ::Hides head in hands::

I got my own education on table manners from

1) working restaurants and hotels and for caterere
2) working in corporate America
3) reading a few books (at the behest of my manager in one large corporation I worked for)

I used to drink milk all the time in fine dining restaurants until I found out about this one. And when I researched as to whether or not it it's "okay" to settle for drining juice, I found out the hard way that while it's acceptable to ask for juice, the quality of the juice usually sucks royally (because it often comes from the "gun" or "beverage nozzle" found behind the bar, and those hoses sometimes have mold growing in them) or else (in the event that they crack open a fresh 12 ounce can of juice for you on the spot) the price turns out to be astronomical. So now I always ask for a mix of cranberry juice and club soda. It looks more "sophisticated" and adult-like, is easy as all get-out for the waiter to get it from the bar-tender, and cranberry juice is so heavilly acidic that it's amost impossibe for mold to grow inside the cranberry hose at the bar).

Another favorite beverage of mine when I'm doing the fine dining thing is to order an iced tea. I didn't start drinking iced tea until I lived in the American South--they take their iced tea VERY seriously down there-- and in recent years, iced tea has become a standard in a lot of Northern restaurants also. I likewise found out the hard way that when you go down South and you tell the waiter "I'd like a tea, please," he will asssume you mean an iced tea, not a hot tea. I was utterly appalled when my waiter returned with an iced tea. He figured out I was a Yankee and he politely explained to me: "Down South, 'tea' is always going to be iced tea, but if you want a hot tea you have to actually SAY 'hot tea.'" So to this day I always say "hot tea" no mater what part of the world I am in. And I also learned that sometimes instead of the phrase "iced tea" Southerners will call it a "sweet tea," which is still always an iced tea.

Another Southern favorite is lemonade, also making its way north as a standard drink of fine dining.

And, there is a non-alcoholic drink called an Arnold Palmer which is half iced tea and half lemonade. Again, if you don't want alcohol, feel like drining more than just water, and wanna look sorta refined, ordering an Arnold Palmer is a pretty cool way to go.

Oh and .............. on the subject of iced water .......... most fine restaurants will drop a lemon wedge into your glass of iced water. This is because most water tastes kinda putrid/yucky/metalic/gross when it come out of a standard tap faucet. But the lemon takes the bitter edge off of tap water. I was recently at a restaurant with some friends, and as the waitress brought all our ice waters, one person at the table commented: "I think this is a mistake, we're suposed to be getting iced water and all these glasses have lemons in them. I think these are someone else's drinks." I had to whisper to that person that lemon wedges are standard.


And before anyone here thinks I'm some high-falutin' snob, I make plenty of faux pas myself from time to time. I was out with my family at Olive Garden last month and the waiter brought out a giant bowl of tossed salad for us. I picked up what I tought was a salad plate at my mother's place setting so I could dish out some salad for her. As I was dishing, I noticed the small plate was rather warm, but I figuerd it was par for the course that they would be silly enough to bring us warm salad plated--perhaps the plates had only just come out of the dishwasher maybe. So I ignored how warm the plate was and just kept dishing. But then my sister-in-law spoke up and said "No, no, dear-- that's a warm bread plate there. You want to use the chilled salad bowls for that." and then I looked and realized the waiter had also brought out a stack of small bowls along with the giant salad bowl, and they were indeed quite chilled. I apologized to my mother and gave her my clean bread plate and took from her the bread plate I had just soiled. (And I also dished out some salad for her into her chilled salad bowl.)

Jersey Chick
06-23-2007, 09:56 PM
And, there is a non-alcoholic drink called an Arnold Palmer which is half iced tea and half lemonade. Again, if you don't want alcohol, feel like drining more than just water, and wanna look sorta refined, ordering an Arnold Palmer is a pretty cool way to go.

My mom used to make iced tea this way when I was a kid - who knew she was ahead of her time, and a Northerner to boot!

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 10:03 PM
Aren't you also not supposed to use your knife to scoop something onto a fork?

Ye. But fully admit that I cheat a littke bit with this one by keeping the knife completely stationary and plowing the fork toward the knife and thus causing the food to scuttle up onto the fork.


Also, when cutting up food, I think it's supposed to be done per bite, instead of chopping up an entire steak and then eating it.

Little kids start off having their parents cut up all their food for them (especially steak), and then as they get older some kids/teens prefer to keep on cutting it up by themsleves into little pieces. But when they become adults they really need to learn to stop doing it that way and need to cut one pice, eat one piece, cut one piece, eat one piece, etc. I personally don't care if an adult does this, but it looks really immature, and their food gets cold faster that way.

I knew a woman who held her fork in her fist like a small child. I was shocked that she never learned the adult way to hold a fork. That manner of grasping caused her to need to lean deeply over her plate to be able to get the fork angeld into her mouth, and she also neeed to stick her elbow way out to one side. It was pretty embarassing to dine with her.

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 10:05 PM
Here in the UK we have a fish knife and you never turn your fork around to pick up peas!


I had to learn in college the European way of eating where the fork NEVER leaves the left hand and always faces down. It was kinda hard for me, but it was expected so I made myself do it.

I still can't do peas that way though. I definitely cheat when it comes to peas.

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 10:06 PM
Didn't think that was "uncouth".

S'pose I'll have to scald my tongue if I want to be a distinguished gentleman.


No--just wait for the food to cool down, or else just chase the hot food with your iced water. :)

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 10:07 PM
My mom used to make iced tea this way when I was a kid - who knew she was ahead of her time, and a Northerner to boot!

:cool:

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 10:52 PM
What might she do that would raise those upper-crust eyebrows, or even stop conversation for a second or two?



Probably if she droped her fork and got down on her knees to look for it. This would cause a disruption at the table. It would make people uncomfortable that she was down by their legs.

Also, if she started eating before everyone else has been served, that would raise a few eyebrows.

And here's one that's very old-fashioned so it might not apply to today's culture but you might be able to work it in if there is a particularly blue-blooded family: in earlier generations, a man is never to remain seated if there is a woman standing in his presense. So, when a group of men and women are all taking their seats for the first time at a fine dining table, all of the ladies MUST take their seats first BEFORE any of the men can take their own. And (this is the REAL difficult part) if a group of people are already dining, and then a woman comes up to the table to say hello, EVERY MAN at the table MUST stand at once because she is now there and she is not seated. This situation behooves the visiting woman to keep her visit as brief as possible lest the men's food get cold as they politely stand (and stand and stand and stand) waiting for her to leave. One way to alleviate the situation is for one of the people seated at the table to say "Won't you please join us?" and the as soon as she is seated, the men are finally free to sit down again themsleves. But if the visiting woman says "Oh no, that's so kind of you, but really, I couldn't impose!" the sad truth is that she IS imposing by virtue of standing there. So she needs to either sit down with them or else skee-daddle on out of there because she is burdening the entire table with her prolonged standing.



Here's another one: eggs! Soft-boiled eggs! The correct way to eat a soft-boiled egg involves the need to sharply strike the shell only once or twice --not too loudly and don't make a huge production out of it-- and then deftly peel away the shell with your fingers, then slice up the egg (it is usaully a bit runny BTW) onto your toast. You need to discreetly discard the peeled shell onto your plate. Often the egg will come on an egg pedastal atop a smaller plate and so you can toss the peeled shell onto that smaller plate that the pedastal is on. Now, there is a very firm rule that allows for few exceptions: NEVER touch your food with your fingers. Soft boiled eggs need to be SLIGHTLY handled with the fingers during this peeling process, but you need to be as subtle and discreet about it as possible. And some really anal people only allow their fingers to touch the shell, but never the actual egg white. Instead, only their spoon touches the white and their spoon then lowers the peeled egg down off the pedastal and onto their toast. As for the "eeh gads!" possibility here: a blue collar person might have been schooled in the very fast and very efficient way of rapdily peeling the shells off of several dozen eggs at once. This quick and dirty method I am about to describe is fine if you are a kitchen worker in the back of a restaurant, and the head chef has just ordered you to take these two dozen boiled eggs here and devil them--and you've got only twenty minutes to do it. But it's not an acceptable way to conduct oneself at the table. The back-of-the-house method for peeling a boiled egg is to smash the egg downward onto the table and then roll the egg back and forth on the table top like a rolling pin to cause the shel to crack finely on all sides. This is loud, very indelicate, it almost looks like you are PLAYING with your food (like a child rolling play-do back and forth), you need to use a sizeable amont of table space to do this rolling thing so perhaps you have crudely shoved a bunch of plates and glasses aside to make room, it has serious potential to soil the tabelcloth, and it violates the firm rule of never touching your food with your fingers. And what's REALLY sad about this one is that such a young woman might actually be pretty darn good at this kitchen-only method and assume she's doing the right thing, maybe her mother taught her to do it that way, and perhaps she has always been complimented that she does it rather well. So all the more reason for her to be confused at the unanimous mortification of those at the table.



You want a real show-stopper? Have her eat a piece of food and a bone winds up in her mouth. Now, the correct way to get a stray bone out of one's mouth is to NOT call attention to the fact that you have a bone in your mouth, and NOT use your napkin. Instead use your fork, stick your fork into your mouth, manouever the bone onto the fork, and then lower the bone to your plate on the fork and set the bone off to the side wit the garnish. No one willl be the wiser. (Some advocate just fishing it out with your fingers, but then you've got your fingers in your mouth, which to me is a faux pas. And if a lady is wearing opera gloves, I would highly advise against that one.) But your character isn't going to do it the correct way. She's going to make a spectacle of herself. Maybe she'll break a tooth on the bone. Maybe she'll choke on it. Maybe she'll try to do the napkin thing, but the napkin just draws attention to what you're doing--in fact maybe you should have her hide behind the napkin while she does a lousy job of extracting the bone. Maybe she takes way too long to meneouver the bone and by this time, everyone is looking at her with this napkin hanging in front of her face.

And choking! Oh my God! I personally had a choking experience in a restaurant! I sometimes "swallow wrong," and the swallow goes down my wind pipe. And then the gag reflex naturally kicks in causing me to cough uncontrollably as my trachea tries to expel the unwanted spit. I once did this during the dinner rush in a very busy and very fine restaurant with a boyfriend and --you know that background "din" in a restaurant? You know that unmistakable room-wide mumbling of fifty very quiet conversations in a large restaurant dining room? Well ....... I started choking on one of those incorrect swallows of mine, and the hacking and choking just woudn't stop. And within less than five secnds of my over-the-top coughing and choking, that background din instantly evaporated. Every head in the restaurant turned to look at me. The silence was unbearable. I was worried someone was perhaps going to come up and perform the Heimlich maneouver on me.

johnnysannie
06-23-2007, 11:15 PM
I got my own education on table manners from




And before anyone here thinks I'm some high-falutin' snob, I make plenty of faux pas myself from time to time. I was out with my family at Olive Garden last month and the waiter brought out a giant bowl of tossed salad for us. I picked up what I tought was a salad plate at my mother's place setting so I could dish out some salad for her. As I was dishing, I noticed the small plate was rather warm, but I figuerd it was par for the course that they would be silly enough to bring us warm salad plated--perhaps the plates had only just come out of the dishwasher maybe. So I ignored how warm the plate was and just kept dishing. But then my sister-in-law spoke up and said "No, no, dear-- that's a warm bread plate there. You want to use the chilled salad bowls for that." and then I looked and realized the waiter had also brought out a stack of small bowls along with the giant salad bowl, and they were indeed quite chilled. I apologized to my mother and gave her my clean bread plate and took from her the bread plate I had just soiled. (And I also dished out some salad for her into her chilled salad bowl.)

Olive Garden is not on the list of what I would consider either "high class" or "world class". It's just a chain restaurant with pseudo Italian food and the object is to make money from customers who truly believe Olive Garden is classy. It's not - it's just a chain, it's like the Mickey D's of Italian food.

Lord, have mercy!

Plot Device
06-23-2007, 11:23 PM
Olive Garden is not on the list of what I would consider either "high class" or "world class". It's just a chain restaurant with pseudo Italian food and the object is to make money from customers who truly believe Olive Garden is classy. It's not - it's just a chain, it's like the Mickey D's of Italian food.

Lord, have mercy!

Lord have mercy! I'm aware that Olive Garden is just a chian. Which is why I dismissed as nothing but stupididy by the server the idea that they brought hot plates for our cold salad (as I said--I assumed that maybe they had only just taken the plates out of the dishwasher). If it was a higher-caliber place I would have said something to the server. But I didn't have any expectations on a mere chain. So went ahead and dished out the cold salad onto what turned out to be a warm bread plate.

Scrawler
06-24-2007, 01:05 AM
One rule I've always found strange is the soup bowl thing. I looked it up to be sure my parents weren't just weird. From Amy Vanderbuilt's Complete Book of Etiquette:
Tipping of Dishes. The tipping of soup or dessert dishes is acceptable if the plate is tipped away from the spoon, not toward the eater.

Bo Sullivan
06-24-2007, 01:11 AM
I was dining at the London Hilton one evening and the man sitting next to me, my boss, took an orange and put it on his desert plate. He proceeded to peel it by first cutting off the peel from both ends with a knife and then slicing the peel away from the orange in one inch sections with the knife, until the orange was peeled. I had never seen an orange peeled like that before. I used to peel it with my fingers but now I do it that way.

Barbara

Puma
06-24-2007, 01:46 AM
Other potential problem areas - finger bowls and palate cleansing sherbet.

Or, harking back to my college days - imagine a dining hall of freshman facing a meal of fried chicken and having to eat it with only their fork and knife - it was quite a sight. Puma

Kadea
06-24-2007, 04:06 AM
I spent a lot of time on very high end cruise ships as a child, so I had a very early introduction in proper table manners. Hope these ideas help...

I might have missed these in an earlier post, so disregard if someone else mentioned...

When you are done with your meal, turning your fork over and putting it at about 3 o'clock on the plate next to your knife to show you are done. Does that make sense?

I've also heard been told it is rude to clean your plate. You should always leave a bit of food on your plate to signal to the hostess that she made the appropriate amount. For example, cleaning the yummy gravy up off your plate with your dinner roll isn't exactly elegant...

Also, never start eating your dinner until everyone has been served, that would raise a few eyebrows and cause a few looks between guests.

Grabbing a fork, instead of holding a fork. Eating pieces that are too big, that might cause your mouth to puff out...

Never comment or even ellude to the fact that you might not like something, just eat it and complain about it at a much later time. I ate L'ongue de Beouf one time when I was about 13 years old. yeah look it up... you might wanna hurl too, I'm just glad it was course number 10, otherwise I might have looked wierd if I hadn't eaten more...

I also know it is quite common to have a new wine glass for each course, to compliment the flavors of what is being served, declining that would not be appreciated in some groups.

Goodluck!

TrainofThought
06-24-2007, 08:05 AM
Here are a few I thought of:

Don’t wipe your mouth when you’re done, pat it with your napkin.
If you get up to use the washroom, put your napkin on the chair not the table.
Use the glass of water that is to your right.
Don’t slouch, you’re back should be straight, a little forward or against the back of the chair.
Don’t guzzle wine, swish it around the glass, take a whiff and sip (This one gets me every time :D) As soon as you feel its effects, drink water.

One rule I've always found strange is the soup bowl thing. I looked it up to be sure my parents weren't just weird. From Amy Vanderbuilt's Complete Book of Etiquette:
Tipping of Dishes. The tipping of soup or dessert dishes is acceptable if the plate is tipped away from the spoon, not toward the eater.I thought you were to tip the dish toward you, and scoop the spoon away from you. Hmm... Food for thought.

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 08:19 AM
Other potential problem areas - finger bowls and palate cleansing sherbet.
Yes. Don't drink from the finger bowl.

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 08:29 AM
Don't pick up a pork chop with your hands to eat it. It's not fried chicken (which is acceptable to eat by hand at a picnic, but nowhere else).

However, you may eat sushi by hand instead of using chopsticks. That's a new one for me.

Biscuits or bread: break off a bite size piece and butter it, then eat. Don't slice it in half to butter it. And don't wipe it around your plate to sop up the gravy. You may use a fork impaled with a single bite of the bread to do this, but it can be tricky.

Fruit is always peeled and eaten with a knife and fork, except grapes.

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 08:33 AM
I also know it is quite common to have a new wine glass for each course, to compliment the flavors of what is being served, declining that would not be appreciated in some groups.
Do not place your gloves in your empty wineglass as an indication to the wine steward that you do not want any.

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 08:38 AM
Or, harking back to my college days - imagine a dining hall of freshman facing a meal of fried chicken and having to eat it with only their fork and knife - it was quite a sight. Puma
My mother is Russian and was trained since early childhood to have exquisite European table manners.
She can eat a chicken wing with a knife and fork down to the bare bone without lifting an eyebrow.
I stand in awe of her dexterity.

ALLWritety
06-24-2007, 12:15 PM
OK
I am a qualified chef. AS aprt of my training I also learnt how to wait on tables. What people have said is very good i think you have most of them.

And PD my dear what a cultured lady you are.

As for the soup: tip the bowl away from you and spoon away from you. the reason is that any drops of soup will (or should) fall back in to the soup rather than on your self.

One that would be very uncouth but IMHO would be a very funny faux pas is licking the plate clean. Now before you laugh i do have friends that actually do this.

White wine should hold the stem of the glass.
Red wine & brandy's etc, should be "warmed" by your hand and your body heat.

Kev

Evaine
06-24-2007, 05:54 PM
I once mistook the brown sugar brought with the coffee at the end of a meal for some sort of sweet, and popped a couple into my mouth. I know what sugar cubes look like, but these were uneven and smaller than normal.

Oh, and "freshmen eating fried chicken with a knife and fork"? What am I missing here? What else would you eat fried chicken with?

Puma
06-24-2007, 07:04 PM
Hi Evaine - You must not have KFC (fried chicken chain) in England. A lot of chicken is eaten in the states by picking it up and holding it in one's hands. Puma

FloVoyager
06-24-2007, 08:25 PM
Wow. These are great. Thank you all so much. You've mentioned areas I thought I knew about--and it turns out I didn't know enough--and things I'd never have thought to ask about. This is exactly what I was looking for. :)

Ziljon
06-24-2007, 08:41 PM
They might ask to use the bathroom, then, not knowing the proper etiquette, might bring their stool back to the dinner table in a plastic bag rather than flushing it down the toilet.;)

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 10:09 PM
So if you do not know the drinks-right/bread-n-salad-left rule, you might be inclined to take the roll/salad sitting at your right (especially if you are right-handed). I saw a business exec do this once when we were all in fine dining restaurant for a business meeting.
The person to his right (whose roll he ate) said nothing and just proceeded with the meal, ignroing the fact that he had no bread now.
A fine example of good manners in action (the victim of the bread theft, I mean). :)

Fern
06-24-2007, 10:39 PM
This may not apply, but I'm curious about the never touching your food thing. . .I visited England several years ago and bread was brought to the table by the watier and each diner was offered bread from the basket; it wasn't left on the table like you normally see here. There were no tongs and I felt uncomfortable picking a roll from the basket with my hands.
Still not sure the proper etiquette there. . ..PlotsDevice or anyone?

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 10:45 PM
This may not apply, but I'm curious about the never touching your food thing. . .I visited England several years ago and bread was brought to the table by the watier and each diner was offered bread from the basket; it wasn't left on the table like you normally see here. There were no tongs and I felt uncomfortable picking a roll from the basket with my hands.
Still not sure the proper etiquette there. . ..PlotsDevice or anyone?
I think the proper etiquette would be to take a piece of bread by hand without making a comment, since that is how the host offered it. In a restaurant I would expect tongs, but since there were none, your only choice is by hand.

Another bread-and-butter thing: Use the butter knife provided to place a portion on your bread plate. Then use your own knife to butter each bite of bread as you eat. DO NOT use your personal knife to serve yourself butter from the communal butter dish.

Personally, I like to see the fancy butter curls with silver butter tongs for serving. Lah-de-dah!

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 10:49 PM
I still can't do peas that way though. I definitely cheat when it comes to peas.
Is it not correct to eat peas with a spoon?

Kadea
06-24-2007, 10:55 PM
One of the best tips my mother ever gave me was to watch what everyone else did and that would be a good guide as to what I should do. So here is my idea for something you could incorporate... Have your character be the first one to be offered something and have him/her do what they think is right, then have everyone else do the exact opposite. She can be mortified knowing that it is way too late and everyone else is snickering or something of the sort.

PS
Can I get royalties for that idea? Totally kidding.

CatSlave
06-24-2007, 11:10 PM
One of the best tips my mother ever gave me was to watch what everyone else did and that would be a good guide as to what I should do. So here is my idea for something you could incorporate... Have your character be the first one to be offered something and have him/her do what they think is right, then have everyone else do the exact opposite. She can be mortified knowing there it is way too late and everyone else is snickering or something of the sort.

PS
Can I get royalties for that idea? Totally kidding.
I read a story years ago - don't ask me which one - in which the inept dinner guest drank from the finger bowl. While the rest of the guests were mortified, the hostess calmly picked up her own finger bowl and drank also, thus displaying her innate graciousness in saving her guest from humiliation.

Kadea
06-24-2007, 11:20 PM
I remember that one too! Can't remember where though...

But you could either have a gracious hostess or one that enjoys the drama...

MattW
06-25-2007, 12:09 AM
A few things I've picked up, may or may not be right.

In Spain and France, one never places one's hands in their lap during a meal. I know for the US, that's a polite place instead of resting them on the table.

And a trick I learned for the bread and drink - make lower case "b" and "d" with your hands - left hand forms the b for bread, right hand forms the d for drink. Being left-handed, my instincts have always been correct.

I'll admit it right now, as a lefty I'm also very clumsy with my utensils, so I tend to switch hands if I need to cut something precisely.

arrowqueen
06-25-2007, 01:05 AM
'...avocado leaves.'

Aq peers at Plot through her lorgnette. 'Did you mean artichoke leaves, my dear?' :D

Oh, and when you're eating your roll/bread, you must remember to break it into pieces and butter each one individually. None of this cutting and spreading nonsense.

Sandi LeFaucheur
06-25-2007, 01:55 AM
I read a story years ago - don't ask me which one - in which the inept dinner guest drank from the finger bowl. While the rest of the guests were mortified, the hostess calmly picked up her own finger bowl and drank also, thus displaying her innate graciousness in saving her guest from humiliation.

It was Queen Victoria who saved her guest's blushes.

CatSlave
06-25-2007, 02:23 AM
A few things I've picked up, may or may not be right.

In Spain and France, one never places one's hands in their lap during a meal. I know for the US, that's a polite place instead of resting them on the table.
My mother - the chicken wing-eating Russian - taught us it was permissible to rest one's forearms on the edge of the table, perhaps three or four inches below the wrist, hands curled gracefully around the utensils (fork in left hand, knife in right). Elbows tight in to your sides; no spreading and flapping your wings at the table.

It amuses me now, all these years later, when my wild and crazy adult brothers and sisters gather around the table together for a meal with Mom, how we all naturally assume the "proper" posture to eat without even thinking about it. When I see the twinkle in my mother's eye, I know she is noticing also.

Thanks, Mom, for not allowing us to grow up like heathens. :)

BTW, if you enjoy reading Gourmet or other foodie magazines, the photos of people at the table are good visual examples of proper posture and the correct holding of utensils.

JoNightshade
06-25-2007, 05:38 AM
I'm having fun reading all of these table etiquette things. I just realized that I know almost zero about fine dining in "Western" countries, but I do know quite a bit about high-class dining in China!

Don't know if you can use this, but, in (mainland) China:

- At a normal restaurant, ANYTHING that is waste or garbage, such as bones, a crumpled napkin, egg shells, whatever-- goes directly on the table, regardless of whether or not there is a table cloth. NOT on your plate. At a very casual restaurant, all of this might in fact go on the floor. Your plate, which is small, is to be used only for the food that you have dished from the communal plates, which will be put almost directly into your mouth. The plate is to be kept relatively empty, not piled high with various food selections. It is merely a polite intermediary between the communal dishes and your mouth.
- In the very best restaurants, waitresses will change this small plate about every ten minutes-- so in fact you should put your bones and other detrius on the plate after all.

There are a lot of other little rules, which I won't detail, but tossing stuff on the floor/table was the hardest hurdle for me to get over... and the hardest thing to break myself of once I came back to the states! For a while, every time I was in a cheaper restaurant, I would toss my used napkins on the floor. :-O That created some rather embarrassing faux pas on my part.

Plot Device
06-25-2007, 04:01 PM
'...avocado leaves.'

Aq peers at Plot through her lorgnette. 'Did you mean artichoke leaves, my dear?' :D

Oh, and when you're eating your roll/bread, you must remember to break it into pieces and butter each one individually. None of this cutting and spreading nonsense.

Yes I did. Sorry. I get my veggies mixed up a lot and it's been years since the one and only occassion I had to even eat those things (they were quite tastey, btw). Thanks :D




--

Oh, and I had to look up the word lorgnette. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorgnette

This would make a great avatar!
http://www.thelaughingstock.co.uk/acatalog/Lorgnette_glasses.JPG

Monkey
06-25-2007, 08:29 PM
If the people in your book are related or dine together reguarly, there are very likely certain rules or customs that they observe and take for granted as "polite manners". These rules may not exist many other places, or indeed, in ANY other place. There may also be certain rules that, for whatever reason, do not apply with this group, though the main character would find them if she were to read an etiquette book. It's not fair, but it is very true that your main character could commit a faux pax by simply not knowing the group's customs, or by following a rule of etiquette that the rest of the group has abandoned. There is no real way around this except trying to do as everyone else does, and this can go horribly awry very quickly if she is expected to do something first, follows the lead of someone being impolite, or follows a man's manners when she should have "acted like a lady".

FloVoyager
06-25-2007, 11:16 PM
There are a lot of other little rules, which I won't detail...

Oh, please do. This is quite interesting, and part of the story takes place in Hong Kong.


If the people in your book are related or dine together reguarly, there are very likely certain rules or customs that they observe and take for granted as "polite manners". These rules may not exist many other places, or indeed, in ANY other place. There may also be certain rules that, for whatever reason, do not apply with this group, though the main character would find them if she were to read an etiquette book. It's not fair, but it is very true that your main character could commit a faux pax by simply not knowing the group's customs, or by following a rule of etiquette that the rest of the group has abandoned. There is no real way around this except trying to do as everyone else does, and this can go horribly awry very quickly if she is expected to do something first, follows the lead of someone being impolite, or follows a man's manners when she should have "acted like a lady".

Excellent points. Thank you.

JoNightshade
06-25-2007, 11:38 PM
Oh, please do. This is quite interesting, and part of the story takes place in Hong Kong.

Oh-- well, I have to qualify, this is MAINLAND China, outside of Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong is very, very Westernized and mainlanders who come to visit are often considered a bit barbaric. ;)

But some other general rules:

- Don't stick chopsticks in your food and leave them sticking up. If you need to put them down, use the rest provided or balance the tips on the edge of your plate. There are some nasty bad-luck warnings parents tell their children about this. ;)
- If someone else puts food on your plate, you have to eat it. Sorry.
- If someone pours you alcohol, you need to drink at least some of it. Generally all of it if you are a man, repeatedly, but a woman can excuse herself politely and just sip. Unless you're in a high-ranking business position, in which case you'll need to prove yourself by doing the "gambei" (bottoms up!)
- When you enter the dining room, if you are not the host, do not take the seat directly facing the door or the seat opposite. Better to go straight for the side-most seat, which is the lowest point on the table, and be invited up to a higher ranking seat (closer to the host) if necessary.
- If you're eating something messy or tricky, like shelled seafood (or a pig foot), usually it's okay to use your hands. High class restaurants will either provide something to wipe your hands with (a wet towel) or a plastic glove to wear while you're dissecting said food item. Yummy!
- The weirder something sounds, the more expensive it probably is. If your host draws attention to something like this, EAT IT.
- Except for something like bugs or scorpions or cicadas. Chinese people know it freaks Westerners out, so they will sometimes offer it just to see how you'll react. They don't actually expect you to eat it.
- If you are not the host or assistant-host, don't turn the turntable. Don't reach over other food. Wait until the thing you want slowly rotates to you.
- If you're smart, always keep a little something on your plate. This will help you avoid having other people dump things onto it. The goal is to make it look like you have too much food, oh, it's all so good, but you can't eat it all! Really! Thank you! If you keep cleaning your plate, you have to keep eating.
- Do not put ANYTHING on the floor. If you have a purse, use wall hooks or couches as provided (in high class restaurants), otherwise hook it over a knee or tuck it between your back and your seat. The floor is always considered dirty, always, and anything that touches it is now off limits.
- Along with the dirty-floor policy, do not sit on your feet or, when retiring from the table, cross your legs in a manner that shows someone else the bottom of your feet. Yucky!
- As a female, if you end up singled out from the men and seated at the "kiddie table," don't object. The guys are about to drink themselves under the table. ;)

OKay, that's about all I can think of off the top of my head for now. Hope it helps!

Symphony
06-26-2007, 12:51 AM
Don't put two or three different foods on the same fork.

Don't pick up the peas with your fork 'turned around'

Don't put down your knife and eat with fork in your right hand

Don't make any noise with your cutlery (no plate scraping or tinking ...)

Never 'cut' your bread - you break it with your hands (if it's a roll, that is)

Don't eat the skin of the fish

Don't drink your wine with your left hand (crossing over)

Don't say 'No thanks, I'm full' when offered more!

If it's soup, don't put the spoon in your mouth - and don't put the soup on the spoon by moving spoon from the far side of the bowl towards you - always the other way round

Don't put gravy on your vegetables

Or use your knife to get some butter for your potatoes

Oh - and don't start before grace (whoever she is ...)

That's all I can think of for the moment. Bear in mind, that a lot of people who attend 'high-flying' dinners are only there for show because they've got too much money - and have the most revolting manners ...

Symphony

johnnysannie
06-26-2007, 02:56 AM
That's all I can think of for the moment. Bear in mind, that a lot of people who attend 'high-flying' dinners are only there for show because they've got too much money - and have the most revolting manners ...

Symphony

IMHO if someone has the money, then they have every right to dine at a high class restaurant no matter what their social station or how revolting their manners.

FYI I've dined with high level politicians, a member of the Queen's Privy Council, and other assorted notables. Some had very nice manners; some did not and made mistakes with the best of them.

Plot Device
06-26-2007, 04:51 AM
The rules will actually vary somewhat by location (as has been pointed out), setting, and family.

My family has never been wealthy. My husband's family has, and is. Boy, did I have a LOT to learn!

To make matters worse, my husband's family loves formality, and reguarly act as if a family meal at home is MORE important than a meal in a fine dining establishment. More than once, I have had to buy new clothes to go to dinner at their home, or risk being terribly underdressed. Don't get me wrong - these are wonderful, gracious, even non-judgemental people. Were I to show up in rags, it would be promptly ignored. But this IS my husband's family, and fitting in is important to me.

My husband's family have staff, but we don't use them as servers during the meal. We serve ourselves, and my husband's grandmother, Matriarch of the family, refreshes our drinks or (to avoid a break in conversation) quietly asks the staff to do so. Most of the rules listed in this thread are observed, but some are not, and a few rules that we observe are specific to our family.

Sounds very intimidating. But I think it's great that you make that effort. And also great that you don't see it as judgement, just custom. My brother maried into a New York family where etiquette is everything. I have dined with his wife's family a few times and the intense focus on etiquette was tangible.


If the people in your book are related or dine together reguarly, there are very likely certain rules or customs that they observe and take for granted as "polite manners". These rules may not exist many other places, or indeed, in ANY other place. There may also be certain rules that, for whatever reason, do not apply with this group, though the main character would find them if she were to read an etiquette book. It's not fair, but it is very true that your main character could commit a faux pax by simply not knowing the group's customs, or by following a rule of etiquette that the rest of the group has abandoned. There is no real way around this except trying to do as everyone else does, and this can go horribly awry very quickly if she is expected to do something first, follows the lead of someone being impolite, or follows a man's manners when she should have "acted like a lady".


This is exactly the scenario from the movie Gosford Park (which BTW won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay). One of the overriding themes of that film was that there is some elusive rule book that you need to follow to be accepted by the British nobility, and yet nobody actually GIVES you that rule book. They just expect you to know, and then roll their eyes whenever you betray that you haven't.

To FloVoyager: I strongly advise you to RENT THE MOVIE GOSFORD PARK, or even buy it. And after you have viewed it two or three times, I also advise you to WATCH THE SCRIPTWRITER'S COMMENTARY. The scriptwriter's commentary on that DVD is one of the very best commentaries I have ever listened to--and I have listened to plenty (I'm not a novelist, I'm a scriptwriter, so I absolutely devour DVD's and I watch every last extra). The man who wrote the script is not British nobility himself, but he was related to the nobility (cousins or something) and grew up as a frequent houseguest--often a weekend guest--in many luxurious mansions throughout his life. So he KNOWS all these unwritten rules, and observed very keenly whenever an "outsider" unknowingly made a gaff. His insight is utterly brilliant. That script is phenomenal and the film is darkly funny and just loaded with indepth details about "the rules" that most of us would never have a clue about.

pdr
06-26-2007, 12:23 PM
Some people have mentioned that you do not begin eating until everyone is served.
I was brought up with a different custom and it was common in our area. If the food was hot one began eating it after one was served. If the food was cold one waited until the hostess began to eat. So during a formal dinner you would wait for the hostess only for the sorbet, separate salad, and those luscious moulds, ices and shapes.

ALLWritety
06-26-2007, 01:58 PM
Never eat with your knife as in using it as a fork or spoon by putting it into your mouth.

Rest of this post is table manner in Hong Kong, China & Taiwan:

If you want more tea you need to part take off the lid or turn it over. Often they are tied on. If you open it then signals you need more tea.

Hong Kong ONLY - To say thank you use your 1st finger and the index finger (Have I got them right? The first two fingers - Not ring or pinky!) and tap them on the table a couple of times, like it is a person kneeing down.

The story goes that the King wanted to meet his subjects so he dressed as a local and went out. This didn't work coz all his servants kept on bowing down to him. SO in the end he told them to do this with the fingers and he would take that as bowing down.

In the past if the chicken's head faced you or you didn't get a towel that meant you had lost your job. If it was a mistake - Oh Sorry, to bad, so sad!!!

In China, Hong Kong & Taiwan you are expected to share "your" dish with others. As mentioned they will be places in the center of the table and rotated round. (Lazy Susan - a small revolving platform in the center of the table.) There is no individual meal/dish.

If by some chance you (MC) has to serve food to others they should use the other end of their chopsticks not the end they eat with. However you do need to be apt at using the chopsticks for this. This is if no spoon or public-serving chopsticks are given. You can ask for pulic chopsticks.

Banquet tables usualy seat 10 -12 people. As already mentioned the guest of Honor sits with their back to a wall, facing the door. These can be up to 14 courses long, so pace yourself. After the fruit or the last course (depends from place to place) has arrived it is expected that about 15 -20 min after people can go. The host can ask people to stay for drinks which may or may not be accepted. There is never any question of who pays the tab for a banquet - The Host. So no fighting here.

The host will come to each table and give a toast. If business then the boss might also give a toast to guests at the table. Sometime during the dinner the toast is expected to be returned. During the toasts it is considered rude if you drink without it been a toast.

Don't ask for more food or you insult the host for not preparing or ordering enough food.

If you use a toothpick don't have ya mouth gaping open, cover it with your left hand while mining with your right.

If you have invited the people to dine then you must pay. However there is a game where the men (Mostly) will "fight & argue" as to who pays the check but you must not let them win.

Hope this gives you more insight.
Kev

Plot Device
06-26-2007, 04:26 PM
If your MC is in a fine dining restaurant, or in a blue-blooded country club (in the club house dining room) or on a luxury boat (with it's own diningroom) then the staff will laugh at her. I have worked in such places, and while the staff keeps a very well-composed face in the diningroom, as soon as they walk back to the kitchen, their true colors come out. They get cocky and sarcastic and say the most horrible things about the people out in the diningroom. They will often give certain customers/guests/patrons disparaging nicknames like "bee-hive" (what we called a woman who had a classic 1960's bee-hive hairdo--and this was in the late 1990's that she was sporting that do) or "Lurch" (a very tall man, he was easilly six-foot-eight) or "blue-hair" (an old lady with blue-tinted hair) or "bread Nazi" (a man who was a total jerk about the bread we served, making the most ridiculous demands of quality about the bread, the temperature, the hardness of the crust, etc). The servers generally don't know people's names, and coming up with such nicknames is a viscious tribal kind of thing. (The movie Dances With Wolves shows us the tendancy in the tribal cultures of the world for people to be given knicknames by tribe members -- nicknames that describe their appearance or their behavior. The film's title itself it the nickname that the villagers gave to the Kevin Costner character).

Once again, for a taste of how cruel, two-faced, and Jekyl-and-Hyde-like that servers can be, I urge you to rent the film Gosford Park. One character in particular in that film --the First Footman-- was the perfect example of this sort of cruel mocking behavior.


And, on a cinematic level (I know 99% of you guys here are novel writers, not scriptwriters, but I just have to get my cinematic perspective in here) in a film, we can't usually reveal the internal thoughts of the rich snooty people sitting at the table, being aghast at her mistakes. The best we can do in a film is show their wordless yet restrained looks of fleeting shock, or else their smug self-satisfaction at seeing her embarass herself. But in a film we can vocalize the identical sentiments that the rich diners are thinking by having the servers vocalize it for them while in the back of the kitchen. I have even seen one server repeatedly walk back into the kitchen with the latest news of what "bread Nazi" was doing--all evening that server gave us a blow-by-blow of the latest feats of ridiculousness that "bread Nazi" embarked upon. Here's an example:

"Holy s--t! Bread Nazi just walked in! Dear God! I hope I don't get him!"

and then later when he once again punches through the swinging door

"Damn! Bread Nazi just got seated at one of my tables! Time to bring him his f--king basket of bread!"

and then later when he once again punches through the swinging door

"You shoulda seen the look on his face when I set the bread down in front of him! Jackass!"

and then later when he once again punches through the swinging door

"He ordered the angel hair pasta. What is it with this guy and carbs?"

and then later when he once again punches through the swinging door

"Asshole says he wants to talk to the head chef!"

And thus the head chef walked out of the kitchen and into the diningroom to speak to this irate customer.

And then -- this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen--"bread Nazi" made the head chef bring him (the customer) into the kitchen to see how they did things. It's very disturbing when a customer comes into the kitchen--we all get kinda freaked out by it. Every head in the kitchen turned as the chef escorted this man into the kitchen and showed him the procedures of quality we practiced. I had never seen "bread Nazi" before, only heard about him, and now at last I was seeing him with my own eyes. He was arguing with the chef about the cabinet full of green salads we had, complaining about it. Yeah, he was a jerk.

While I feel this behavior by the servers is unacceptable (from a sheerly moral perspective), one of the things about being a server is that the two-hour interaction between server and guest is a sort of a wordless conversation. A good conversationalist interacts well and helps the flow of things to move along quite nicely, making it enjoyable for both sides of the affair. A bad conversationalist does stupid things, says stupid things, makes everything embarassing and uncomfrotable. And this sort of frustration is where servers justify themselves in their outspoken contempt for lousy diners. I feel it's important for me to point out that servers almost never spoke ill of people JUST because they were funny-looking. The true triggering mechanism for their ire was when a person proved to be a lousy diner/customer, and this always awakened in the servers that cruel tribal instinct of zeroing in on something (anything) in the customer's appearance or behavior to allow the server to invent a viscious nickname.

I also want to make a distinction between when a server merely laughs at you verses when a server actually hates you--HUGE difference. A server will only chuckle about you when you commit a silly faux pas. But a server will all-out hate you if you engage in overt rudeness. This causes the visciousness potential in the server to get magnified tremendously at that point.

So ... perhaps your MC can do something that makes the servers merely laugh about her. Perhaps the servers can chuckle in the back of the kitchen about the dumb thing that "Miss K-Mart Special" just did with her food (her nickname coming from their observation of her clothes perhaps). And maybe the server assigned to her table can give a blow-by-blow of the latest ignorant thing she just did.


And ......... my scriptwriter juices are utterly flowing here ........... maybe toward the end of your story, she can wind up impressing those same servers with a tansformed self. Remember Pretty Woman? The hotel concierge named Barney? Unlke the cruel servers I have mentioned, he restrained himself and remained a perfect genteman to Julia Roberts from start to finish. She emerged as a refined lady and at the end he extended to her the amazing gesture of kissing her hand as if she was a princess. Maybe your servers can also be impressed with her by the end and be far more respectful than what they were at first.

FloVoyager
06-28-2007, 04:41 AM
Thank you all. This is great and I've learned a lot.

Made a note to myself about Gosford Park. Sounds interesting, and I can call it research. ;)

electric.avenue
06-28-2007, 10:45 PM
Oh, I've just loved reading this thread.

Here are a few of my own, but they are a bit obvious:

Never comment on things being "posh" in this type of situation - this immediately marks you out as being gauche.

Mispronouncing French menus is a bit of a no-no.

When eating at a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, make sure beforehand that you know how to use chopsticks, and don't make a fuss over it at table.

And one thing I heard from a Frenchman who worked in the catering industry in Japan, and other places: he told me that it is/was current North American etiquette, when wishing to avail oneself of the ablutions, shall we say, to ask where one might find a mirror. One would then be directed to the Ladies Room/Restroom/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, where, obviously, there would be a vanity mirror. You could then use said ablutions at the same time as purportedly using the mirror, thus saving the social embarasment of having to mention la toilette. I don't know how true this is. I have to admit that Brits are less coy, not only do they tell you where they are going, but even may mention what they are going to do when they get there. Unrefined lot.

MattW
06-29-2007, 03:59 AM
And one thing I heard from a Frenchman who worked in the catering industry in Japan, and other places: he told me that it is/was current North American etiquette, when wishing to avail oneself of the ablutions, shall we say, to ask where one might find a mirror. One would then be directed to the Ladies Room/Restroom/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, where, obviously, there would be a vanity mirror. You could then use said ablutions at the same time as purportedly using the mirror, thus saving the social embarasment of having to mention la toilette. I don't know how true this is.Never heard of it.

I don't know anyone so uptight to feel embarrassed about bodily functions as to conceal what their intentions are. If you ask where a restroom is, no one will give a thought to what you are doing in there. If you ask where a mirror is, someone would wonder what horrid digestive issue you are trying to conceal, or you might be directed to the mirror in the entry hall.

When in a foreign country, I always learn the proper common language for seeking out a restroom. I am more concerned with being understood that with being refined.


I have to admit that Brits are less coy, not only do they tell you where they are going, but even may mention what they are going to do when they get there. Unrefined lot.Would they give a report on how things transpired when they return?

Monkey
06-29-2007, 05:38 AM
Gosford Park keeps getting mentioned. May I suggest a film as well?

Stiff Upper Lip.

Best darned movie on etiquette ever, in my opinion :D

One of the biggest lessons concerns why you are ALWAYS polite to your staff. :rolleyes:

Ok, so I admit...the movie's a comedy. Etiquette is background. But darned if it isn't hilarious, and it very well could inspire you!

:banana: :banana: :banana: :banana: :banana: :banana: :banana: :banana:


(Sorry. I'm in a mood today.)

mommyjo2
06-29-2007, 05:41 AM
If she (a woman) rose from the table to greet a man it would raise eyebrows. This is something that would be totally normal for a regular person to do, but not proper at a formal dinner.

Symphony
06-29-2007, 04:14 PM
IMHO if someone has the money, then they have every right to dine at a high class restaurant no matter what their social station or how revolting their manners.

FYI I've dined with high level politicians, a member of the Queen's Privy Council, and other assorted notables. Some had very nice manners; some did not and made mistakes with the best of them.


I agree! What I meant to say was that stepping into a high-class restaurant doesn't mean you're going to find everyone with (IMHO) often-ridiculous 'rules' - traditionally invented to 'distinguish' themselves from others. The character in this story need not necessarily be 'embarassed' by any faux-pas as it's likely there'll be a billion other 'normal' people in there behaving as normal people do. Another perspective is the bunch who deliberately behave like animals in high-class places - and this might leave this character feeling 'quite at ease' ... Just trying a few different slants to the situation. Depends on the period of the writing, of course. Years ago, not everyone would have been let in in the first place. Nowadays everything goes - everywhere. No guarantees. I was talking extremes ...

(didn't mean to offend ...)

p.s. don't think the info dump was necessary (but it makes for great children's dialogue hehe)

Symphony
06-29-2007, 04:57 PM
If by some chance you (MC) has to serve food to others they should use the other end of their chopsticks not the end they eat with. However you do need to be apt at using the chopsticks for this. This is if no spoon or public-serving chopsticks are given. You can ask for pulic chopsticks.


This is brilliant. Never knew the 'other end' of a chopstick was used for anything.

Great thread.

Symphony

ALLWritety
06-30-2007, 07:20 AM
Ya live N learn
m8.
Kev

JoNightshade
06-30-2007, 08:56 AM
This is brilliant. Never knew the 'other end' of a chopstick was used for anything.

Great thread.

Symphony

Um, in my experience that isn't done very often, mainly at lower class restaurants, and by people who are trying to make their table a little "classier" for people they don't know well. Usually everyone just uses their own chopsticks (if everyone is friends) to take things out of the communal dishes, or the host will actually ask for another set of "serving" chopsticks. Hm, actually the only time I have seen the "chopstick reversal" done is when it's a sudden, semi-emergency thing. For instance, my friend attempting to pull slippery noodles out of the hot-pot bowl and almost dumping them all over the table... Chinese friend leans over and uses other end of chopsticks to catch the load and carry it successfully to the plate.

Oh, another funny thing... many many Chinese people, when eating fries at McDonald's or KFC, will not eat the entire fry. They will pick it up very delicately by one end and eat all the way to the part that their finger is touching, and then toss away the little finger-tainted stub.

ALLWritety
06-30-2007, 09:45 AM
Here in Taiwan using the other end of the chopsticks is quite common in restaurants and banquets. ONLY if no other chopsticks are there. As you said among family and friends it is acceptable just to the eating end. Maybe it is different in China.

Kev

travelgal
06-30-2007, 01:08 PM
In Korea, you never use a knife to cut the (communal) meat, and you cut it while it's cooking. You use scissors. You also use scissors to cut the kimchii (spicy pickled cabbage).

If you pour a drink, use two hands if you're pouring it to an older person or a superior, one hand if the person is younger or a subordinate.

Use chopsticks unless you're eating a weaternised dish, in which case you use knife and fork, or spoon and fork. Only maladriot kids use forks.

Slurping your soup means you appreciate it. You don't lift the bowl to your mouth.

aruna
06-30-2007, 02:05 PM
In Spain and France, one never places one's hands in their lap during a meal. I know for the US, that's a polite place instead of resting them on the table.

A.


In Germany, too! if you are not using a hand you have to rest the wrist on the edge of the table.

Another soup one: in England at least you sip soup daintily from the side of the spoon, you don't shovel it in from the end.

aruna
06-30-2007, 02:22 PM
In India: OK, this isn't in high class restaurants, where usually knives and forks are used, but in homes where they eat with the hands (and even rich people do this): NEVER touch food with your left hand. Not at all. That's because the left hand is used for cleaning your bottom after Nr. 2, and is considered dirty.
Also, never touch greet anyone with your left hand. For the same reason.

electric.avenue
07-23-2007, 12:14 PM
Never heard of it.

I don't know anyone so uptight to feel embarrassed about bodily functions as to conceal what their intentions are. If you ask where a restroom is, no one will give a thought to what you are doing in there. If you ask where a mirror is, someone would wonder what horrid digestive issue you are trying to conceal, or you might be directed to the mirror in the entry hall.

When in a foreign country, I always learn the proper common language for seeking out a restroom. I am more concerned with being understood that with being refined.

Would they give a report on how things transpired when they return?

Oh, right, so maybe things are not so uptight as I have been led to believe. It sounds like the "mirror thing" was a bit of a garbled tale.

It may also be that, to Europeans, the word "restroom" sounds horrifically euphemistic. But, admittedly, in Europe people use loads of euphemisms for this place. Maybe euphemisms from other cultures just sound funnier?

No, I don't think people generally give a report on how things transpired - not usually, anyway!

Stacia Kane
07-23-2007, 04:53 PM
You want a real show-stopper? Have her eat a piece of food and a bone winds up in her mouth. Now, the correct way to get a stray bone out of one's mouth is to NOT call attention to the fact that you have a bone in your mouth, and NOT use your napkin. Instead use your fork, stick your fork into your mouth, manouever the bone onto the fork, and then lower the bone to your plate on the fork and set the bone off to the side wit the garnish. No one willl be the wiser. (Some advocate just fishing it out with your fingers, but then you've got your fingers in your mouth, which to me is a faux pas. And if a lady is wearing opera gloves, I would highly advise against that one.)




Except for fish bones. Fish bones are properly removed with the hand; everything else with the fork.


But gloves are removed before eating or drinking. So your opera-glove-wearing lady is already committing quite a faux pas, regardless of how she's removing bones from her mouth.


I own every book Miss Manners ever wrote. :)