Shortcutting… Dining Etiquette

4 Jun

This holiday I’m on has involved a fair amount of posh dinners (makes up for the sand), so I’ve had to sharpen my manners somewhat (although no matter how sharp they were, it would still be highly impolite to cut my meat with them). I’m not going to bore you with all the ins and outs of dining etiquette (mainly because I don’t know them), but there are some simple rules you can follow that will allow you to blend in with well-mannered fellow diners.

Firstly, don’t take a bite of food until you’re sure conversation is officially ending. There’s nothing worse than eating during a conversation. You can’t talk with your mouth full, obvs, so if you come up with a really witty comment, you have to chew really quickly and finish, by which point the moment has usually passed. Also, if you’re in witty company, don’t drink before the conversation has ended either. Laughing + mouth full of liquid = not being invited back.

Okay, so the meal has started. Firstly, if there’s lots of cutlery, go from the outside in. Okay, now there are different rules for different foods. For rice or other grains, you can’t scoop it into your fork: you have to kind of stick in on top if your fork with your knife, or you will be frowned upon. If there’s pizza or other food that could potentially be eaten with fingers, I’d either wait to see what everyone else is doing, or just stick with cutlery, as in the rule book it’s never really allowed to eat with fingers (except, interestingly enough, for asparagus). Another food that should send up warning bells is spinach, or indeed anything that can get stuck in your teeth. If at a restaurant, avoid these at all costs. If at someone’s house, just be very careful. It might even be a good idea to bring a little pocket mirror around with you so in such a situation you can subtly check every now and then.

Glasses are another tricky one, but if you’re dealing with a glass with a stem, you should hold the stem: that way, you can keep the drink cold. And don’t gulp noisily where possible: not only will it attract attention, in my experience it can also, if done without real concentration, lead to a confusion between water glass and wine glass that results in a similar situation to the laughing-while-drinking I mentioned earlier. Not good.

Asking for more is a real tightrope. If you ask for too much, you seem greedy. If you don’t ask for any more, it looks like you haven’t enjoyed the food. So ask for a little bit more, but don’t overdo it. I’ll leave it to you to figure out exactly where the line is.

And if anything goes horribly wrong, like dropping cutlery or spitting, then the best thing to do is to just keep calm and carry on. Cheers!

Keep shortcutting,


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