Thursday, February 23, 2006

Style Of Services

Style Of service
There are a few traditional styles of service that have developed over the years that have certain distinguishing characteristics. Most operations take a few ideas from each when developing their own service standard. Please examine each of the most common styles.


American
American is a command service style which most guests and banquet operations are familiar with. In this style the meals are plated in the kitchen and served in course in the dining room. Often, the salad and/or dessert will be pre-set, along with ice water. As each course is finished, the waiter will remove the guest’s plate along with the eating utensils that was used any side items. With salad course you should remove the dressing and salad fork. With the entrée you should remove entrée folk, knife, the breadbasket, the butter and the B & B plate, salt and pepper shakers. By the time dessert is served, there should only be a utensil for the dessert, a spoon for coffee, coffee cup and ice water. Generally, this style requires serving from the left and picking up from the right (Some operations serve from the right and pick up from the right).


French
The French style of table service is distinguished by its focus on preparing part or all of meal tableside, in the dining room. Such items as the Caesar salad, chateau briand and bananas foster are typical of French menu items. A rolling wooden cart called a gueridon is often used to present and prepare the food. Plated entrées are served from the right, all other courses from the left. Beverages are served from the right. All courses are removed from the right. French service can be very impressive and distinctive when sold and managed properly, but it requires investment in equipment and training, and clients who are not bound by time restriction.

Russian

In this style of service, food is prepared in the kitchen and served at the table on large platter called scoffers. It is traditional for all the waiters to remove their platter covers in unison, tableside. Tureens are use for soup and special bowls for salads. The waiter serves each guest at the table, moving counter-clockwise, offering portions at their request. Empty plates are placed from the right, moving clockwise, and the food is served from the left. Plates are cleared form the right, going counter-clockwise.

Family style
Family style is marked by the serving of food in bowls and platters sent on the table for everyone’s consumption, much like you would at home. A family style banquet can make a nice impression with certain group, or in association with theme-related meals. This style is not commonly used due to its informality.

A Brief History of Table Service


A Brief history of Table Service

The Nine Basic Principle of Hospitality and Service may seem straightforward, but they have not always been the rules of the profession. Table service is a noble profession, one that has had a long and varied history, and has been shaped by that history.

Table service evolved with changes in social structure, architecture, and the food that were served. By comparing the food and ways our ancestors ate, especially when they dined in banquet, with our own custom, today’s dining habits, whether in formal dining rooms, bistros, or family restaurants, can be better understood-even some of the bizarre jargon used in today’s kitchen and dining rooms, which has its roots in the past.

THE ANCIENT WORLD: GRECE

The earliest written descriptions of recognizably Western dining scenes are found in the Old Testament and in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad. In reading these accounts, it is obvious that it was the status of the diners that counted. Until fairly recent times, writers did not write about ordinary, everyday life. They wrote for and about the rich and powerful, describing banquets and special occasions attended by people of high social status. By 400 BCE the Greek banquet had become standardized, with a fixed structure for the dishes served and the manner in which they were generally held in private home, as the Greeks had very few public eating places. Dining room were small, containing couches for the guests. Rooms were described by the number of couches they contained. Usually these feasts took place in a t couch room, with a small table in front of each couch.
A basket containing a selection of breads made of wheat or barley was placed on each table. Servants brought large dishes from the kitchen, and guests chose their favorite portions, tossing scraps, shells, and bones onto the table.

The meal was divided into three parts. The first part or course might include fruit, poultry, salted seafood, and small savory meat dishes, much like the Greek mezze of today. These light dishes were followed by hartier fare-fresh seafood and roasted meats, such as lamb or baby goat.

After this course, the tables were removed with all the bones and other debris, and new table were brought out. Servants circulated with towels and basins of warm water scented with precious oils for the guests to clean their hands.

Desserts were then served. These might include dried and fresh fruits, cheeses, nuts and small pasties or other confections. Wine mixed with water tableside in a krater, a large clay pot with a wide mouth, was served with the desserts. Diluted wine was considered healthier than water, and drunken behavior was discouraged.

After the desserts the soiled tables were removed one again, signaling the end of the meal and the beginning of the symposium, a convivial party with a mix of literary and philosophical discussions, music, and performances by acrobats and female dancers, accompanied by the drinking of unmixed wine.


THE ANCIENT WORLD: ROME
The Rome adopted a great deal of Greek culture, including the culinary arts, taking Greek ideas about the meal merely as a starting point. They used more-complex recipe, more-elaborate presentations, more kinds of seasonings and more of them, and more important ingredients. Roman families dined tighter. There were strict rules governing the position of each diner, based upon status. The head of the household always had the most prestigious spot. Guests also took their places according to status. Just to be invited to dine often signaled sought-after social recognition. Who was invited by whom, who accepted an invitation, and to whom one appealed for an invitation said much about power in ancient Rome.

The Rome dining room was called a triclinium; it contained three couches, each for three diners, arranged in a U shape. Diner rested on their left sides, their left elbows propped up on cushions. The legs of the second diner on the couch were behind the cushion of the second. This left the right hand free to choose from the platters of food, carried from the kitchen on dicuses. Each guest ate from a red pottery bowl or dish, such as the then-famous Samian ware.
A Rome dinner consisted of three courses. The first, the gustum, was similar to our
hors d’oeuver. It was served with mulsum, a light wine mixed with honey. The gustum was followed by the mensa primae, or first table, as in the sequence of the Greek banquet. Red wine mixed with water accompanied the mensa primae. The next course was the
Mensa secundae, or second table. This course included a dessert of fruits and sweets-and the first unwated wines of the meal. This was the time for entertainment and a serious drinking to begin, as the Greek symposium.

The middle Ages through the Renaissance

The hierarchy of power and status was reflected in medieval banquets as well. In Anglo-Saxon times meals were large-scale affairs, taking place in the main hall of a castle; there were no rooms reserved solely for dining. Although some tables were permanent, most consisted of boards laid across heavy trestles or sawhorses and dismantled after the meal. Tables were arranged in a U, and the head of the household and honored guests sat at a table elevated on a dais. The table was covered with a white cloth and an overcloth called a sanap in English.

The first thing to go on the table was the salt cellar, which was placed before the most important person, salt being for immense value in the middle ages. The status of those who were to eat could be determined by where they sat in relation on the salt. High-status diners ate above the salt, others below. Only those above the salt were seated on chairs. The rest sat on benches that were, in effect, miniature versions of the trestle tables at which they ate.

The most important implement on the table was a carving knife. Carving was a manly art, and at first it was reserved for the carver, a person of exalted rank. Later this task was given over to the “officer of the mouth,” the highest-ranking servant. A concern with courtliness and manners, if not sanitation, demanded that the officer of the mouth “set never on fish, beast, or fowl more than tow fingers and a thumb.” Diners brought along their own knives. They used them to cut foods into pieces small enough to be eaten conveniently with the hands or conveyed directly into the mouths on the point of the knife.

The tables used in French banquets were covered with a large cloth called the nappe. The top was kept clean, but the sides where it hung down were used for wiping the hands. Occasionally manuturigia, or hand towers, were made available. The French word nappe is the source of the English word napery, meaning “table linens.” Napkin is a diminutive form, and apron is an altered form of napron. Likewise, the culinary term napper is used to describe coating or covering food with sauce. Food was served from common bowls, called messes. It was scooped, or dragged, to large dishes or trenchers, either tranchoirs, which were shared by two or three dinners.

In France, as in England,, wealthy households had a large number and variety of silver bowls, basins, pitchers, and other serving vessels. Ordinary folk, on the other hand, might have no more than a pewter mug. The display of wealth through service ware was only one of the ways that the host’s status was expressed at the table.

In the late fourteenth century people began to think of food and its service its service as worthy of study and respect. In France, Taillevent cook to Charles V and Chales VI, collected and codified medieval cooking in his book Le Viandier. Le menagier de Paris, modeled on Le Viandier and written by an elderly gentleman for his young bride, outlined the ourgeois repertoire.

In the mid-fifteenth century platina of Cremona, librarian to Pope Sixtus IV and a learned epicure, published De honesta voluptate et valutudine. In it, Platina discussed proper manner, table etiquette, table setting, nutrition, and more. It also contained recipes. De Honesta Voluptate altered the way the wealty, who still ate with their hands, thought about eating and manners. Written in Latin, it was translated into many languages, including Italian, French, and English, and had tremendous impact.

Although not all historians agree, some trace the organs of classic fine dining to a single aristocratic family of the sixteenth century, the Medicis of Florence. When Catherine de Medici married the future King Henri II of France in 1533, she brought as part of her entourage a small army of Italian cooks, chefs, servant, and wine experts.

Catherine introduced fine dining and its appropriate service to France; her cousin, Marie de Medici, wife of King Henri IV, continued that culinary mission. Francois La Varenne, one of the greatest chefs of Fraince, received his training in the kitchen of Henri IV, While Taillevent looked to the past for inspiration, La Varenne’s book Le Cuisinier francois (1651) showed signs of a more modern approach to cooking, foreshadowing Le Guide culinaire of Escoffier, still 250 years in the future.

The new table manners that began with platina were expanded during the reigns of the medici cousins. Among the table refinements brought to France by the medicis were:

: Washing hands before sitting down at the table-an old custom that had fallen into disuse

: Using a fork to select food from a platter

: Passing the best morsels of food to others at the table

: Not blowing on hot food

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Up to the end of the eighteenth century, lavish meals and presentations were confined almost exclusively to the aristocracy. This was especially true in France. With the start of the French Revolution in 1789, the political and social landscape of not only France but England and the rest of Europe changed. With these vast changes came a democratization of dining. No longer were chefs cooking only in the homes of rich and powerful. With the toppling of the French monarchy and nobility, their chefs had no choice but to ply their trade in other venues. The development of restaurant in France was not due solely to the French Revolution, but this event spurred the growing need for eateries available to the increasing numbers of the middle class.

Coffeehouse has been around, both in France and in England, since the second half of the seventeenth century; they began as place for businessmen to meet. Lloyd’s of London, the insurance firm, was originally Lloyd’s coffeehouse, a place where ship’s captains, ship-owners, merchants, and insurance brokers met to discuss the day’s events, art, literature, and politics- and gamble on the chance of ships reaching their destinations safely. The café Procope in Paris was a popular gathering place for intellectuals. It opened at its current location, across the street from Comedie-Francaise Theater, in 1686 and is the oldest serving coffeehouse in Paris.

The first real restaurants in France appeared about twenty years before the French Revolution; they proliferated after that as the nobility’s former chefs sought employment. In 1782 A.B. Beauvilliers opened the restaurant La Grande Taverne de londres. The term restaurant already existed in France, but it previously referred only to small establishments that sold broth or bouillon, that is, restoratives. Beauvilliers had spent time working in England, especially during the Revolution when association with French nobility might have endangered his life. Beauvilliers contributed the a la carte
(Literally, ‘from the card’) menu, offering his guests the opportunity to choose from a number of menu items, as opposed to the fixed-menu table d’hote of the past.

Antonin Careme (1784-1833) lived during the crest of the social changes brought about by the Revolution. He represented the grandest statement of the old, court-based cuisine, inspired by the vigor of a new society in transition. Careme was on of the last practitioners of service a la francaise, It was a perfect frame for the exhibition of his art.





Three types of service are commonly used in restaurants in the United States: French, Russian, and American. Other type that are used include buffet for special occasions and parties, family style, and tray service.

French Service

This style of service is found in restaurants offering classic French cuisine and in other types of operations that cater to a sophisticated clientele. French service is distinguished by the fact that all or part of the preparation of the dish, or at least the finishing of it, is done in the dining room. The food is brought form the kitchen on silver platters, carefully arranged and suitably garnished, and presented to the guest for his inspection. The captain or maitre d’ then completes the preparation on a cart or gueridon next to the guest’s table. A rechaud or alcohol lamb may be used for warming or for last minute sautéing of an item. This finishing is done in the guest’s presence and to his exact preference. It offers him not only personalized attention, but also a show, depending on the skill and personality of the staff.

A highly skilled staff is required to give good French service. A captain must know how to bone fish and poultry, curve meats, dress salads, and prepared flaming and chafing dish items. Waiters must be familiar with the ingredients and methods for preparing numerous classic dishes, and busboy must be trained in the proper serving techniques.

Unfortunately, many operators attempt to offer French service without properly training their staff, resulting in service that is a poor imitation of French service is at best. The It lacks one the prime ingredients that gives French service it’s dignity-namely, professionalism. Each detail of true French service is done in consideration of the guest and in not a pointless empty ritual.
French service is very expensive if executed properly and requires a high menu price. A large of skilled waiters, captains, and bus help is required. A large inventory of hollow ware must be bought and maintained, as well as a large quantity of flatware, china, and high-quality glassware. Because of the numerous pieces of ware required for the service of each guest, ware washing can also be a major expense. Furthermore, since side tables are required for French service, fewer dining tables can be placed in a given area. French service should not be rushed; usually only one seating can be obtained for each meal. All of these requirements limit the potential sales that can be obtained in a given space.


Russian Service

Service ‘a la Russe, or Russian servie, is a variation of French service. The major different is that, in Russian service, all carving and finishing is done in the kitchen, The individual portions are then arranged on trays or platters and garnished attractively. The waiter carries the tray directly to the table and after presenting it for inspection, serves the food onto the empty plate before the guest. The advantage of Russian service is that hot food does not get cold while it is being finished in the dining room; this service is most often used for banquets where all the guests are being served at the same time.


AMERICAN SERVICE

In American service all food is plated and garnished in the kitchen. The filled plates are then carried to the dining room and placed before the guest. There are many advantages to this type of service, which accounts for its widespread use. The highly skilled French Service waiter and captain are not required. Plating and garnishing can be done under the supervision of the chef, and an attractive arrangement of the items and garnishes can be devised. Finally, the food is more likely to be the proper temperature when it is served.


OTHER TYPES OF SERVICE
Other types of service are occasionally found in hotels, restaurants, and in some institutional food services. Among them are butler service, family-style service, and tray service.

Butler Service

Butler service is used for stand-up affairs, such as cocktail parties or receptions. White-gloved waiters circulate among the guests, passing finger foods, such as canapés or finger sandwiches, arranged on small silver trays. Champagne is sometimes served butler style at weddings.

Family-style service


Family-style service is the presentation of food in bowls or platters that passed from hand to hand by the guests, who help themselves as they pass. This type of service is unusual in an urban restaurant, but is suited to a country-style operation that offers a limited menu with unlimited portions for a set price. It is keeping with an institution. In such cases, the residents usually have no choice of entrees.









Buffet service

There are three types of buffets.
The first is simply called buffet. In this service, guests obtain all their own foods and drinks. The service person has only one job: to clean up dirty dishes.

The second is called modified deluxe buffet. Table is set with utensils and guests are served coffee, and perhaps desert, by the service person.
The third is the most elegant, called deluxe buffet. The guests are served the first and second course, as well as their beverages and dessert. They obtain their main course from an elegant buffet. The service person must serve and clear many courses. They must all the dirty plates cleared before the guest returns from the buffet table.

Buffet set-up

Buffet set-up assigned by the Banquet Supervisor. Staff members should be trained on how to create attractive buffet presentation. Essentially each buffet should present aspects of height, dimension, and color, and should present a “mirrored image” whenever possible.
Each chafing pan should have 2 stenos, with hot water taken from the coffee urn. Chafer should be lit at least 30 minutes prior to each function should be checked periodically during long function.

Buffet utensils should have a B& B plate as an underliner, with a utensil for each side of double sided buffets. All condiments should also have an underliner.

Buffet runners should assist supervisor in communicating counts/quantities to Banquet kitchen staff. You must strive to keep buffet looking “fresh”, as well as it did when guests first arrived. Buffet will be broken down at the discretion of the banquet supervisor.

Buffet service: servers should greet each table, describe items on buffet menu, location of buffet, and offer beverages to your guests.

International Dining Etiquette



International Dining Etiquette

You've got your tickets, your money and your passport and all that is lacking is the social polish that will allow you to enter the higher echelons of whatever foreign clime you're visiting. This entry provides some of the essential rules that will make you an exemplary dinner diplomat.
In general, wherever you are, if you conduct yourself with charm and politeness and consideration for other people, and if you avoid offending or insulting your fellow diners, you can't go wrong. In fact, differences in the way different cultures dine makes a good conversation starter.

Austria
In Austria, it is considered the height of rudeness not to look somebody in the eye when you clink glasses. If you are just clinking glasses in the middle of the table what's the point of not looking at who you're toasting? When you look at a person in the eye as you clink, you are acknowledging their existence.

China
In China, if you eat everything you put on your plate, this indicates to the host that he hasn't provided enough food. On the other hand, in the West, we are told by over-doting mothers to 'eat everything up, there are poor starving children in Asia who don't have anything' - a logic that never convinced any child to eat their cabbage.
Some Chinese people can be very superstitious and that even carries over to dining. So it is is with the consumption of fish. In the West, a whole fish is sometimes cooked and placed on its side, and after you've finished the topside, you flip the fish. Basically flipping the fish in Chinese is called dao yue and it sounds similar to another phrase which means 'bad luck' or 'throwing away your luck'. Sometimes, then, the bottom half of the fish is left alone (those who are not so superstitious, as expected, will just flip it over and eat it). The solution to such a problem is to just pull off the whole fish bone after the top half has been consumed (the bone should come off as a whole neat skeleton, assuming that the bones are not broken) and proceed to consume the rest of the fish.
When you've finished your meal, rather than the Western 'middle of the plate' method for placement of eating implements, in China, one puts one's chopsticks horizontally on the table or plate... but in the case of a bowl, never on the bowl.
Chopsticks should also not be pointed either upwards or at people, since this is bad luck. This is similar to the Javanese/Balinese rule of not stepping over musical instruments, since they make a line up to heaven.
In China, the host routinely places food in other people's dishes for them: so don't give them strange looks if they do this to you. In addition, you can reach for things on the other side of the table as long as you stand up to do it.
As in the West, don't start eating before other people, but don't start clearing the dishes while other people are still eating.

England and Wales
One of the most contentious areas of British dining etiquette is just how much food you should leave on your plate. The divide stems from the days of World War II rationing when things like fresh meat were scarce and spam was a delicacy. There was no excuse leaving anything on your plate, because you never knew when you would next get fresh meat or veggies and waste was viewed negatively. People ate everything they could get their hands on - just in case! It would be a very unusual family who did not experience any limitations on food during this time. The richer you were, though, the easier it would have been to escape this. Indeed, as history shows, indifference to waste could even be used to show off your wealth; Louis XVI being a perfect example of this.
In about 50% of traditional British households, you should never totally clear your plate of food. This indicates that you are, indeed, full and the host has given you more than enough food.
In the other 50%, to totally clear your plate indicates how delicious the meal was.
Mealtimes can have different names in different parts of the UK. One oddity is the use of 'lunch' and 'dinner'.
In western and northern parts of England and Wales it is normal to use 'dinner' to mean the midday meal and 'tea' for the early evening meal. In southern England, it is more usual to use the word 'lunch' for the midday meal and 'dinner' for the early evening meal. This leads to the oddity that 'dinner' means either midday meal or early evening meal depending on your location.
This oddity is further complicated because these different words can often have specific meanings in specific settings. Those who use 'lunch' for the midday meal will commonly refer to midday meals provided to schoolchildren as school dinners. In areas where dinner is the midday meal the large 'roast meat and four veg with gravy' Sunday meal can be called Sunday lunch.
This might seem to lead to confusion but in practice everyone seems to be able to work out what meal is being referred to.
To add further to the confusion, the word 'dinner' has different connotations for different people - regardless of location. Some believe that 'dinner' is a meal with other people (eg so and so has invited us round for dinner). This occurs around 7pm and will comprise of three or more courses with wine. Others believe that 'dinner' is the big meal of the day, whether that happens around midday or in the evening, lunch is a snack at around midday, and tea is what you have in the evening if you had your dinner earlier. Supper is a glass of milk and biscuits before you go to bed.
The etymology of the word 'lunch' is a little obscure. It could come from the Spanish lonja which means slice. This would have referred to a slice of meat which would have been served with beer or wine as a snack (similar to tapas).
And then tourists go and visit the UK and say: 'Tea? Tea? I want to have a meal, not just a cup of tea!'.

The Meal
Once you've worked out what meal you're eating and when, it's now time to turn your attention to the intricacies of English eating habits.
If you're a group of people going out to eat, or if you've got a dinner party with a few friends, you should never start eating before everyone has been served if your party is less than seven people. If you're more than seven, it's okay to just start digging in as soon as you get your food, because if you don't, it can go cold and that's not something you want. An exception to this rule, though, is soup. You can start eating soup as soon as it gets placed in front of you.
While we are on the subject of the soup thing, tipping the bowl away from you is the correct way to eat soup. Also, you have to dip the spoon into the soup with an action that takes it away from you rather than towards you. However, when eating breakfast cereal you should tip the bowl towards you. The hard and fast rule for spoons is that savoury food is scooped away from you and sweet food towards you.
As a general rule, you use cutlery from the outside of the layout first. So, first you might have a soup spoon (on the right of the place-mat), then you might have a small knife and fork, then maybe a fish knife and fork, then the meat knife and fork, then the dessert cutlery across the top of the setting, the spoon being the uppermost implement. The knife for buttering your roll should be placed on the side plate.
Any 'special' cutlery (eg steak knives) should arrive with the dish they are needed for.
In England, not only is there some confusion about what certain meals are called, there is a more contentious issue - is it a napkin or serviette? For ease of reference, we will call it a napkin. The golden rule is that a napkin should never be used to blow your nose on. This is a major boo-boo; you may actually want to use it for its proper purpose too. Also, napkins should be placed across the lap - tucking them into your clothing may be considered 'common'.
The British are famous for their Sunday roasts and the rules for carving the meat are clear. The person who is carving the joint will carve off a good few slices of meat, then place a couple of slices on each plate and hand these round so that those persons can help themselves to vegetables. In France, however, this is considered a subtle insult, implying that the recipient of the plate will take too much from the communal supply if left to their own devices.
Now we come to a real etiquette treat; how do you eat a banana with a knife and fork which apparently is required by advocates of proper British etiquette - where fingers are reserved only for asparagus?
The method is surprisingly simple. First, holding the banana still with the fork, cut all the way along the inside of the curve with the knife, from one end to the other. Next, fold out the banana skin with the knife and fork, holding it still with the fork, but not removing the fruit from the skin. Then slice the banana into mouthful-sized slices, still held safely in the open skin, so you get circular prisms of banana.
Burping at the table is simply not the done thing. If you absolutely have to, either excuse yourself from the table, or do it as discreetly as possible. Don't belch loudly under any circumstances.
As a final note on English table etiquette, it is unlucky to put shoes on the table, even if they are not attached to your feet (when cleaning), because it is a portent of bad luck for 24 hours, resulting in arguments and potential redundancy from work. Whistling at the table is taboo because it signifies impatience.

France
The French are notorious for their rules and regulations regarding their food. These are dilutions of the rules imposed by Louis XIV on his court and have infiltrated homes and restaurants. Here are some pointers to help you navigate dining etiquette à la Française;.
Most French chefs take umbrage if you add condiments to a dish before even tasting it. It is also a grave insult to ask for ketchup. They believe it hides the taste of the meal. If you do ask, the waiter will bring it but don't be surprised by surly service thereafter. This quirk isn't apparent in Asian cultures. Just look at the way some chefs add chilli to their food; 'a little chilli on food' could be sometimes described as 'a little food on chilli'.
If you go to a restaurant, the cutlery is laid out with the bowl of the spoon and the prong of the fork facing upwards. Yet in a French household this is considered impolite, the bowl of the spoons and the prongs of the forks should be facing downwards.
While eating in France, it is always polite to have both of your hands visible. If one or more of your hands are missing, people will assume you're playing with the legs of the ladies/gents next to you. Also when eating at night in a restaurant, always switch your mobile phones off. The French have a clear distinction between work and leisure and if your phone rings, expect disparaging stares.
If you're eating in a French restaurant, it is usual for ladies to sit on the bank/chairs with their backs to the wall and the men with their faces to the ladies and the wall.
You'll find, too, that the French rarely use side plates for their bread; it's perfectly acceptable to place your broken roll on the tablecloth. They have a nifty gadget called a ramasse miettes (crumb collector) specifically for this task. A ramasse miettes is usually a hand-held mini-carpet sweeper for tablecloths but it can also be a blade-like implement. This is increasingly scarce in France as the French waiters hate touching detritus - they'll clear your table so quickly and their hands rarely get in the goo that you've left behind.
If you've finished eating, put your knife and fork on the plate together in the middle. If you intend eating some more, put them one each side of the plate, but still on the plate.
When eating mussels, use an empty mussel shell to use as pincers for the others and put the shells in the lid of the pot that they've come in.
Olive pips are a pest. Put them on the side of your plate and under no circumstances should they be put in the ashtray - the sin of the non-smoker.
In France, it's perfectly acceptable to use toothpicks (cure dents) at the table. Take your spare hand and hold it on your top lip, covering your mouth so others can't see what you are doing, then pick away. Put the pick on you plate, don't drop it on the floor or put it in the ashtray. If there is no plate available, leave it on the table. Don't inspect what you've just extracted from between your molars. It's gross.
Coffee is not commonly drunk after 3 - 4pm in France so don't be surprised if you get funny looks if you ask for one. It's not really a faux pas but useful to know.
In the south of France, the rules are slightly different; you can expect to use the same knife and fork for the starters and the main course. When you have finished one course, place the fork, prongs up, on the left hand side of the plate and then place the blade of your knife in between the prongs.
Also in the south, if you're tossing a salad and some falls out of the bowl, superstition dictates that you will fall pregnant in the next year.

Germany
In Cologne, as in Austria, if you are clinking glasses with someone you should make eye contact with the other person. Otherwise you have doomed yourself to seven years bad sex.
Also, in Cologne, the locally-brewed beer, Kölsch, is about as common as water. There are at least 25 brands of the brew and there are big breweries with restaurant/bars attached. The waiters in these breweries are brisk and business-like, as they are not fishing for American style tips, and for the most part are all Richtige Kölsche Junge, a type of 'Good Ol' Boy' or 'One of the Lads'.
Here is one Researcher's experience in Cologne;
I took two British friends of mine to the Früh Brauhaus. I ordered a Kölsch, Rebecca ordered a Radler (disgusting beer/sprite mixture, don't ask), and Colleen ordered a hot chocolate with cream. The waiter rolled his eyes and a few minutes later came back with three glasses of Kölsch. He presented them with flourish. 'Here is your beer' one down. 'And your Radler' two down. 'And finally, your chocolate with cream' and plonked the third drink down.
Moving away from Cologne, in Germany you eat asparagus with a knife and fork which seems a bit heavy-handed coming from Britain where you eat it with your fingers. Asparagus can be served up to St John's day (25 June) and rhubarb is no good after this date either.
The British are usually accused of being precious about their potatoes but in Germany you must not cut potatoes with a knife. It seems simple, but it offends well brought up Germans. The simple explanation is that if you crush your potatoes with a fork it gives a rougher surface to soak up the gravy.
Well brought up Germans cut their rolls in half horizontally with a knife, which is shocking for someone used to French or British eating habits.
As far as cutlery is concerned, leave it on the plate in the right order after finishing the meal, forming an upside-down 'V' to indicate that you are still hungry. Forming a line across the plate as the arms of a clock showing '5 minutes to 5' will indicate that you have had enough.
The definitive German book of etiquette is the Knigge - you pronounce the 'k'.

Hungary
You must very careful when making the most accepted Hungarian toast (egészségedre!; mispronounce it as English speakers usually do and you wind up saying 'to your arse' instead of 'to your health'. Always ask a Hungarian for advice on pronunciation.

Iceland
In Iceland, it is considered rude to give your host a gift when staying with them.

India
For real tea one must actually travel to India, or at least an Indian household or restaurant... the secret is to skip the water altogether and boil the tea leaves in milk... that makes for strong tea.

Ireland
The British confusion over what to call which meal has even spread overseas as this example highlights.
Tea in south east Ireland means high tea about 4 - 5pm when tea is served with scones and cakes - dinner will follow at about 8pm. No one up north tends to eat quite that late, preferring around 6 - 7, as a rule, possibly due to the short daylight hours in winter.

Israel
When one is in Israel, anything goes. Apparently.

Italy
Long gone are the days of Roman feasting where the rules were to eat as much as you could, visit the vomitorium and start eating all over again. Eating habits are now refined to a point where eating is an art form.
It is perfectly acceptable to eat a peach with a knife and fork. It's an extremely complicated affair which involves sticking the fork deep into the peach until it hits the pit. Then with a very sharp knife and a great deal of steely determination, you cut through the flesh to make bite-size pieces. When all the peach is cut, remove the fork from the pit and then eat the fruit.
When eating spaghetti, you will often just be served with a fork and no knife or spoon. You use the bowl to twirl the pasta around the fork instead of a spoon.

Japan
In Japan, to express delight at the meal, you are supposed to eat noodles as loudly as possible, slurping all the way. The chef takes it as a compliment that you like their food so much that you're slurping it all up. This also has to do with the fact that you're eating the food while it's still hot. To eat hot noodles, you have to make a cerain 'O' shape with the mouth and the resultant space in the mouth cools the food as it is vacuumed up. This renders the whole process extremely noisy.
To Westerners, chopsticks can pose more problems than they are worth when learning how they work. There are many modes of using chopsticks. The two most common styles are the 'scissors' and the 'proper' method. The scissors method involves the crossing of the chopsticks where the hand is. The proper method is where the chopsticks don't cross but are held apart (on the same hand) and then the chopsticks meet at the end (food grabbing hand). In some circles, how far up the sticks you grasp shows your skills with the chopsticks... if you hold them near the food grabbing end, you would be considered a novice, while if you hold them right at the other end, you would be considered a chopstick master. However, these circles are shrinking, with the youth of today no longer caring much for such issues.
Never pass food to another person's chopsticks from your own chopsticks, this is very, very bad etiquette. Always pick up your rice bowl when you eat from it for the simple fact that picking up dishes and holding them while you eat is really convenient and comfortable and is acceptable in all circles.
If you've got a bowl full of rice, never stick the chopsticks down in it and leave them standing there. In a full bowl of rice, you could do this and have the chopsticks be held up 'on their own, but you don't want to do this because this is how rice is offered to the dead at funerals and to do so at the dinner table invokes bad luck.
It's considered exceptionally rude to spear your food with one chopstick. Also, Japanese chopsticks are tapered, and Chinese chopsticks aren't.
When raising your glass and toasting your hosts in Japan, never make the mistake of shouting, 'Chin chin!'. Chin-chin is a Japanese colloquial word meaning 'penis'. Here's what one Editor has to say about his efforts at diplomacy;
When I was working in Kawasaki city, I spent a lot of my early days getting a little bit drunk and emotional with my bosses after work. After a couple of Kirin lagers, cultural differences tossed aside in a spirit of global warming, I'd always end up looking them straight in the eyes, whereupon I'd raise my glass and scream into their faces,'Penis! Penis! Penis!'.
That's what you call a cultural cock-up.

Malta
On the island of Malta, food is taken very seriously. Always check how many courses are being served. It is quite likely that you will be given a small appetiser, followed by a large pasta dish. This is usually followed by meat or fish. Don't be fooled into thinking that because the pasta dish is large it is the main course. The amount you eat will be noted and commented on once you have left. Also, beware of the bread you are offered at the beginning of the meal; it will fill you up fast and leave you without the appetite you need to complete the rest of the meal.

The Middle East
In certain Arabic and Middle Eastern states women are not supposed to eat with men. Usually dining will take place in the same room but the women and younger male children will eat in a separate area. A traveller to these areas will not find this a problem if staying at hotels/resorts but it can cause huge resentment if you are at a family house. If you are a female guest to a male from the house, then the family will sometimes accept you as a western prominent and you may eat with the men, but most of the time it's unlikely. It is important to subtly check what the family's religious standing, if you are invited to join them.
The reason for this is that no man may see a woman unveiled except for her husband.
It is often the case that the males eat in one room while the females remain in the kitchen and cook and serve. They get what's left. It doesn't seem much different to a rushed Western household when the football is on.

Poland
When eating a whole fish you must not turn it over but rather remove the bones when you get to the middle, then continue eating downwards... this is because turning over the fish turns over the fisherman's boat.
This rule can be applied to most European countries.
Russia
Russian celebratory dinners go something like this. First you 'make a table' which is something akin to setting the table, but which also means making it look extra pretty for a special occasion, and implies all the food preparation too. There are no hard and fast rules about how you set the table, what to include and where, but you shouldn't expect to find any knives, except maybe a few cutting knives in case someone wants more bread or another slice of cake. You eat everything with a fork or your fingers as the occasion arises. In fact, this is general practice. Watching others eat liver or trying to attack a roast chicken with gravy is a sight to behold.
Food consists mainly of salads, cold meats, cheese, pickled stuff, caviar which is usually red, and takes some getting used to, or black, which is expensive. All this is put on the table before you begin. If you don't pig out too much on this 'first course' it could be followed by a hot 'main course', but not always. For afters there is usually fruit or cakes or both. And of course the drink of choice is vodka, closely followed by champagne, which can be served at the same meal, though there is usually an extra glass for soft drinks at each setting.
No entry on Russian etiquette would be complete without a few words on how to drink vodka. Drink it neat. That is why small shot glasses were invented. Never mix it. Never drink it without eating something immediately afterwards. Even the hardest drinking session will always include a pause after each 'round' while everyone chomps on something salty. Gherkins are popular although anything at all is acceptable. You don't necessarily have to go at it downing glass after glass, one after the other until you fall over. Vodka is part of perfectly respectable celebrations.
Here are the simple rules to create the perfect Russian toast:
Vodka is only drunk after a toast. Sipping is what the champagne or juice is there for.
Glasses are raised throughout the toast, which will not be short, and then chinked.
If you chink your glass you must neck the liquid (but if you don't want to neck it, just don't chink).
Try not to cough, and, of course, eat something straight after.
And that's it.
Scandinavia
This is directed specifically at young Australian travellers who are travelling through Scandinavia. When Scandinavian person says 'Skül' (pronounced 'school') do not assume they mean 'skull' - Australian slang for downing the whole glass at once. If you do this, expect to be looked at most strangely. 'Skül' is the traditional toast, similar to 'Cheers'.

Scotland
Yet again we come back to the great 'lunch/dinner debate which has infiltrated the northern borders of England. In Central Scotland dinner time is around midday and tea time is when you get in after work in the evening unless:
You are eating in a restaurant where you get lunch menus at midday and dinner menus in the evening.
You come from Morningside (Edinburgh) or Kelvinside (Glasgow) where they speak a totally different langauge to the rest of the UK.
'All joints on the table will be carved' is the warning from one Researcher, so keep your elbows off the table, at least until the feeding has ended. Napkins go in your lap and you ought to use them to wipe your mouth before sipping your wine, or you leave food on the glass. To remove something from your mouth, use the napkin.
Smoking is a no no until after dinner and, if at a formal do, after toasting the Queen.

Spain
In a tapas bar in Spain all the detritus - pips, crumbs, disposable napkins, cigarette butts et al are thrown on the floor. This breaks years of conditioning but is in fact a part of the tapas culture. The detritus is swept up at the end of the evening.
Sub-Saharan Africa
The food will often be a starchy substance of ground mealies (a maize plant) or rice and a bit of meat in a runny sauce. What you do is roll up a ball of the mealies and dip it into the sauce, grabbing a sliver of meat and popping the resultant ball in the mouth... all with the right hand only. If you feel you might forget then sit on your left hand. It will avoid a considerable offence.
Using the left hand is a major insult, the reasoning behind which is cloudy. Lefties should practice wielding a spoon in the right hand just to avoid giving offenses. However, it is acceptable in some cultures to remove bones from your mouth with your left hand.

Thailand
In Thailand, meals are a communal affair, an opportunity to get together, to chat and relax. Food is often eaten at a low table, with diners sitting on the floor. One thing to remember with this arrangement is that it's incredibly rude to point the soles of your feet at anybody, at any time - the feet being the most ignoble part of the body.
Conversely, the head is the most revered part of the body, and touching it is absolutely taboo. Remember not to touch the head of your host's children, and keep your head lower than the head of any images of Buddha, other religious figures and the King. You shouldn't stand over a seated Thai, but instead bring your head down to the level of those at the table if you do have to stand.
If you're invited into a Thai home to eat, also bear in mind the following:
Remove your shoes before entering
Don't step on the threshold
If you bring your host a gift it should be wrapped. Your host won't open it in your company. It's a good idea to leave the price on the present. This may seem like an alien concept to Westerners, where it's often important to hide your generosity or your meaness, but in Thailand, where there is so much gift giving, your guest will certainly reciprocate and it would be embarrassing for them if their gift wasn't of equal value to the one you've given them.
In a similar vein, when dining out at a restaurant, the inviting party foots the bill. In return, guests will then invite the host out to dinner on another occasion.
It's an honour to be served the first bit of food. Rice is seen as the main component of the meal, the side dishes bringing flavour to the rice, in contrast to the West where we see carbohydrate as a sub-plot to the flavour of the meat and vegetable dishes. So little emphasis is given to protein that you may be served quite bony chicken parts. Given this fact, and the hotness of Thai food, the experience is a finger licking and lip burning one! In polite society, at the end of the meal the last morsels of food are left in the serving dishes.
A note about cutlery; in the 19th Century, spoons and forks were adopted by Thais. Knives are not used at the table as these implements are thought of as a symbol of aggression. The edge of a spoon is used to cut food, while the fork is used to push food onto the spoon. Unlike much of the rest of South East Asia, the use of chopsticks is limited - they are usually only presented when noodles are served.
When taking your meals in Thailand, don't pile your plate up with a bit of everything, get through it and go back for a second helping. You will be given a plate of rice and you should take single spoonfuls from the dishes in the centre. Remember you will be using spoon and fork. If serving spoons are provided with the various dishes, you should use them.
Likewise, if you are in the north east and eating sticky rice with your fingers, you should use the spoons provided with the dishes. If there aren't any, go ahead and dip the rice into them with finger support as necessary. But don't lick your fingers.
In the north, food is often served with sticky rice, which arrives in a small bamboo basket with a lid (one basket per person). You eat with your right hand. Once you've finished, put the lid back on the rice basket.
If separate drinking vessels are not provided, use the communal cups or drinking bowls.
At the end of the meal it is polite to leave the table/eating vicinity. Don't stay to chat - although you may carry on your conversation from a distance.
In southern Thailand, food is normally eaten with a spoon and fork. Hold the fork in your left hand and spoon in your right, and don't put the fork in your mouth. As mentioned above, You should use the fork to put food on your spoon and then put the spoon in your mouth.
Generally in Asia, once food has touched your plate it is unclean from everyone else's point of view. If you've ended up with too much food on your plate, the food is wasted as it would be unthinkable to give it to another diner who is still eating.
If you are a foreigner, don't worry. Thais do not take offence easily and are more likely to be amused at any difficulty you have.


USA
The States are, of course, a varied place, and rules vary from person to person. There are only a few hard and fast rules that everyone must observe... the rest are considered optional:
Don't reach over anyone else's plate, and don't lunge for anything that isn't within easy reach. Your neighbours will be only too happy to pass things to you.
Eat over your plate. This one's more of a fashion tip than a politeness one.
Don't be disgusting. Rude noises, nauseating discussion topics, and wind are just plain unacceptable.
Left-handers must take precautions to ensure they don't sit to the right of a right-handed eater. Nobody likes to play elbow jousting with a fork in their mouth.
Don't be a miser when the bill arrives. If someone offers to pay, that's okay, but otherwise, lay out the price of your meal, plus some extra for the tip. People who try to freeload don't get asked out again. Don't get anal over change you're due to receive, either, if it's only a couple of bucks.
After that, anything goes. Put the napkin on your lap? If you eat over your plate, you won't need to. Elbows off the table? As long as you don't set them in a puddle, you're fine. Besides, if God didn't want our elbows on the table, then why did he make tables a perfect elbow-height?
If you are a Brit who wants a good cup of tea in the USA ask for a cup of hot water and take your own tea bags. They never make it strong enough for the British palate because they never use boiling water.
In the southern United States, a surprising number of foods can be fried and eaten with your hands. Non-local diners may wish to observe whether their hosts use cutlery before jumping in themselves. In fact, a good assumption to make is that if you don't see any cutlery on the table you should go ahead without it. It is generally considered impolite to ask for, or use, silverware when none is needed, as this is a sign that you judge the food too distasteful to eat with gusto.
While forks and knives are often eschewed in this manner, spoons are particularly popular in the South for stirring sugar in tea. In fact, a surprising number of diner patrons compete in a silent contest to see who can absorb the most sugar in their tea without any over the side of their glass. Various methods to compete include stirring very rapidly to increase friction, shifting from clockwise to counterclockwise in an attempt to get grains of sugar to collide, and raising the spoon slowly up and down while meditating upon the tea for apparently metaphysical reasons.
The fact that all these practices ignore the basic precepts of chemistry, ie saturation point, never phases the contestants one whit. Never, ever comment upon the staggering amount of sugar in the bottom of a Southerner's glass of tea.
Because Southerners so often eat fried foods and spill their tea, it's considered perfectly fine to use any number of napkins. Simply leave the pile of used napkins to either side of your plate. Do not, however, expect anyone to clean up your pile of napkins for you.
Try not to look concerned if you enter a Southern eatery and are seated at a table with several piles of napkins, a number of clean spoons, and no forks or knives. This is perfectly normal and has no bearing on the quality of the diner.

The West
At formal dinner parties in the Western world the host and hostess sit at either end of the table, giving it two 'heads'. The gentleman whom they wish to honour most, or whom they consider most important because of rank, position or interest, sits on the hostess's right; the lady of greatest honour or importance on the host's right. The places on the side of both host and hostess are assigned to the next most important people and so on to adjoining places down the table. The sexes are placed alternately and men face women across the table if it is an equally mixed guest list, which is what most people aim at. Nowadays, if entertaining privately, formal precedence will give way to the host or hostess's opinion as to who would most interest whom as conversational partners across the table or to the side.
At official banquets the rules of rank and diplomatic precedence should be followed. This places the guests of 'least importance' in the centre of the table, farthest from the host and hostess. In private, it is usual for members of the family or close friends of the hosts to be placed among other guests in the centre.
In medieval times, in the household of a king or great Lord, the host and his most important guests would be seated at one table, and lesser ranks sat separately. The ceremonial salt cellar, a symbolic rather than a purely functional salt holder, was usually a fine example of the goldsmith's or silversmith's art, was placed at the nobleman's left. The most important guests sat on his right, although sometimes with quite a wide gap between him and the first guests, especially if there was a big difference in rank. Guests of lesser rank sat on the host's left, below the salt. They were served by a lower grade of servant who did not carry napkins and the gap before their places was greater. Thus 'below the salt' came to indicate those not considered important or worthy of a great man's attention. An example of this medieval etiquette was when Princess Mary (the future 'Bloody Mary') was rendered illegitimate by Henry VIII, her role at state banquets was to present the napkins to the king and his consort as a mark of her lowered rank. It has to be noted that she never did this to Anne Boleyn, her mother's usurper.
It is surprising how much still applies. For example, break your bread to eat it, don't bite chunks off the loaf, as this will afterwards be distributed to the poor. In those days one brought one's own knife and cleaned it on a cloth when finished. It was also not polite to say rude things about other people or to make too much of a mess.
Anyway, back to the present, if your guest commits a faux pas, do not draw attention to it... this is itself a bigger faux pas. If it looks like a scene might happen regardless, join them in doing whatever it is and take the flak yourself.
If soups and desserts are served cold you are expected to wait until everyone is served. Only if hot does the rule of soups apply.
Always ask before smoking at the dinner table when others are eating. If you're not allowed when they're not eating they are either your parents or non-smokers who don't want their house to smell.
Glasses
The plain one is for water.
The shorter, rounder one is for red wine.
The taller, thinner one is for white wine.
The small, odd-shaped one is for schnapps.
The tall very narrow one is for champagne, and is called a 'flute'.
The short round/square one with no stem is for whisky and other spirits.
The pint-sized one is for beer.
The round ones that sit on your nose are for reading the menu.
The bulbous one is for brandy - to see if you've got the right quantity, gently tilt your glass so that it rests on the table, the liquid should come up to the lip of the glass. Warm the brandy in the palm of your hand. For the real connoisseur, place your hand over the glass and swirl in the other hand. After a minute, remove your hand and smell the drink.
Do not serve champagne in those small, shallow glasses. They make the champagne go flat more quickly (bad thing). Use a glass with some height to it; a flute or, in a pinch, a white wine glass with a long stem. The stem is important because it keeps the heat of your hands away from the bubbly and the height of the bowl is also needed so the liquid doesn't spread out and flatten. It also gives the bubbles someplace to travel, which looks cool.
Wind
A natural phenomenon that occurs after filling up your insides, burping, is considered impolite in the modern West. But this used to signal, in certain corners of the world, that the host had provided enough food and if the guests didn't burp at least three times, they were clearly not satisfied and the host was poor, or just plain cheap.
Many believe that in Germany it is polite to burp. This idea comes from the religious reformer Martin Luther, allegedly, who said:
Warum pfurzet und ruelpset ihr nicht, hat es euch nicht geschmecket?
Which roughly translates as:
Why don't you farteth and burpeth, didn't you fancy the meal?
Many Germans know this phrase and use it frequently. It might be a handy phrase to know to divert the attention from an unwanted sound or smell to historical/cultural topics at a German dinner table.
It is actually considered a compliment in some parts of the Southern United States to burp during a meal. For some reason, though, men are expected to give this compliment and not women. Women who burp are deemed to be uncouth, just as they are in the rest of the United States.
Generally speaking, men around the table smile and laugh at the burp. Women are expected to feign annoyance, even if they also find it amusing. This behaviour rarely occurs outside the home, but that could just be due to lack of opportunity.
It's actually considered an honour to the chef to burp as a sign of enjoying a meal in some parts of Turkey.
Hands
Many of us grew up being told that chicken is the only thing you are allowed to eat with your fingers in a restaurant and it is rumoured that in Gainesville, Georgia, USA there's a local law that states that it is illegal to eat chicken using a fork. The issue of what you can pick up with your hands is a thorny one.
Boneless chicken calls for a fork... unless it's in the form of chicken strips. Confused? Basic rule of thumb is that if it seems appropriate to use your hands, use your hands. There's a whole slew of things that need picking up, from tacos to chicken strips to crab legs to french fries to sandwiches to...
There are some foods that require fingers, here is one Researcher's perspective on eating crab claws.
I've never found much use for the cracking tool, myself, since the shell would have to be much more brittle than it usually is to make itself useful. I snap apart the joints with my hands, and then use a fork to split the shell along its length. This procedure cannot be performed with any measure of propriety and decorum, so it is best to fling these onto the same plate you place your discarded shells. Newcomers to shellfish will inevitably spray meat bits into their hair, and make rude sucking noises on one end of a particularly stubborn section.
In Asia, many countries don't use cutlery as the West do. That is what nan bread and the like are for. So if you want to truly experience curry as it should be experienced, throw away your knife and fork and use your fingers and bread instead.

Salt and Pepper
Always sample food before applying your salt or pepper. The logic behind this is to avoid upsetting sensitive/bad cooks by assuming that their food will not be good enough without extra seasoning or condiments.
Always pass the salt and pepper shakers together. If someone asks for one, you pass them both. This seems to be a Western thing.
The best explanation for this is if you pass them separately, they'll get separated, and in the case of multiple sets, you could end up with salt at one end and pepper at the other. This is all besides the aesthetic argument that they're supposed to go together.

Eatting Etiquette


Eating Etiquette
Ever since people first gathered together to eat, some sort of dining etiquette was observed. People soon learned that the strongest person had first choice. It probably didn't take too long before the strongest person learned not to eat with the knife he had used to kill the dinner.
Etiquette has evolved over the years, but most of the American rules of etiquette were shaped by 17th century European society and by military etiquette. Many of the rules of etiquette are strange and outdated, but if you want to make a positive impression in a business or social situation involving dining, you need to know a few of them.
The tips provided may be bewildering or make you more nervous than you would otherwise be, so we have used bold letters to indicate the most important tips. The real key to a successful social or business dining experience is to enjoy yourself and to help others enjoy themselves. When in doubt, follow the lead of your host(s).
Dress for the occasion. Formal means tuxedos and ballgowns. Business lunch or dinner usually means you should wear a suit or other professional attire.
Arrive at least 10 minutes early if not otherwise specified. Check your appearance.
Greet your host(s). Shaking hands is the usual way, particularly if it is a business function. If you are wearing a coat, ask where you can put it.
If there is a cocktail party first, limit your intake, especially if it is part of job interview or if you have to drive. Having a non-alcoholic beverage is a perfectly good option.
Be sure to leave one hand free for shaking hands or eating. You can do this by using all the fingers and palm of your other hand. Fold your napkin loosely around your little finger. Balance the hors d'oeuvre plate between your ring and middle fingers, and hold your glass or cup between your index finger and thumb. It takes a little practice.
Wait to go in to dinner or sit down until either your host(s) say to sit or until they are seated. Leave your jacket on until dessert comes unless you are so hot you can't stand it, then place it around the back of your chair.
Put your napkin on your lap. If it is a large one, fold the top half down.
If you are ordering from a restaurant menu, avoid asking for changes to the item, the most expensive meal option, or food that will drip or slip.
If you are ordering wine, the simple thing is to ask the host or waiter to recommend something. White wine is recommended for fish, chicken, and vegetables; red for red meat and heavy dishes like lasagna. Beer works with hot food. If you are there as part of an interview, do not drink more than one glass.
Whoever orders the wine will have a small amount poured into the glass to taste. Smell it delicately, sip it, rolling it around on your tongue, then swallow. Unless it tastes like vinegar, nod your head and say something like, "Excellent!" or "Very Good."
It is okay to order a drink that does not contain alcohol.
Use your eating utensils from the outside in. If you are unsure about anything, watch your host or others around you. Use them delicately so you avoid a lot of noise as they touch the plate.
Pass to your right. If someone asks for the salt, pass both salt and pepper.
Your beverages should be on the right of your plate and food like bread and salad on your left. This will help you avoid eating or drinking someone else's food.
If soup is served, remember to spoon away from you. This helps stop the drips. Leave the spoon turned over in the bowl when you are finished.
Hold your knife in your palm with three fingers around it, the index finger on the top, and your thumb on the inside of it. Hold it gently and use pressure from your index finger and thumb to cut.
After you have cut a piece of food, put your knife down on your plate with the blade to the inside and switch your fork to your other hand to eat. Yes, it is weird and the Europeans do not do it this way, but we do.
Don't reach for something on the table; always ask the person nearest to it or to you to pass it.
When butter is being passed, cut a pat and place it on your bread plate.
Tear off a small piece of bread to butter. Never butter the whole slice. Lay your butter knife down with the blade to the inside.
Use your knife or a piece of bread to help corral the pesky vegetables, never your finger.
Talk to everyone around you, but don't yell at someone down the table. Of course, don't talk when your mouth is full either.
Don't put your elbows on the table; in fact, unless you are cutting something that requires both hands, your idle hand should be in your lap.
If coffee is served, it usually comes with a teaspoon you can use to add sugar or stir.
If you have dessert or fruit, the dessert fork or spoon will either be above your plate, or will be served with the dessert.
Use the restroom to pick food out of your teeth or repair your makeup. If you have to excuse yourself from the table, place your napkin in your chair. Women, if you are in a very high-class restaurant, you might find an attendant in the restroom. You are supposed to tip that person if she provides any service to you.
When you are finished eating, place your knife and fork in the middle of the plate with the handles resting on the plate. Fork tines should be turned down and the knife blade turned in. Place the napkin to the right side of your plate or on your chair when you get up.
The host(s) should pick up the restaurant tab, so don't offer. But it never hurts to have money or a card handy just in case. Thank your host(s) for a wonderful meal (unless you ended up paying for it).