Monday, January 20, 2014

The 10 Best (and Most Common) Ways to Prove You Don't Care About Table Manners

As one who dines out at least 5-6 times a week, as well as one whose parents knocked him on the head with the handle of a butter knife for any infraction at the table (That's poor manners in itself, isn’t it?), I have observed that poor table manners are the RULE… not the exception in Houston (and everywhere else). If you don’t care about these things, then skip this article, as you probably hit 10 out of 10 anyway. Who am I to point out your poor table manners? Well, someone needed to, (if you care) unless you get 10 out of 10 right.

If you enjoy reading this article, I suggest that you also check out Kaitlin Steinberg's article (The 10 Worst People in Houston Restaurants) in The Houston Press, about the monsters you encounter in Houston restaurants every day. Are you possibly one of those, too?
Here are the infractions that I notice the most in restaurants (as well as at $1000/plate galas):

If you enjoy reading this article, I suggest that you also check out Kaitlin Steinberg's article (The 10 Worst People in Houston Restaurants) in The Houston Press, about the monsters you encounter in Houston restaurants every day. Are you possibly one of those, too?

Here are the infractions that I notice the most in restaurants (as well as at $1000/plate galas):
1.      The most common faux pas at the table is the way the knife blade is faced when placed on the plate between bites. The knife blade ALWAYS faces toward the center of the plate. At least eight out of ten were taught that a knife blade should point outward when placed on the plate. Sometimes when I'm at table with several people, I feel like they are looking at my "innie" wondering why a guy like me never learned how to eat in public like all of them did.

2.      Once one has used a knife or fork NO part of either of them should ever touch the table again.  Between courses, leave the knife and fork on your plate.  The waitperson should take the plate and used utensils and bring fresh ones with the next course. Between bites, the knife and fork are always placed completely on the plate.

3.      A soup spoon is never drawn toward the diner… ever. The proper way to eat soup is to push the spoon away from you. Also, the soup should be scooped from the side of the bowl farther away from you.

4.      May you tilt a soup bowl to get the small amount of remaining soup on the spoon?  Yes, you may. However, the soup bowl, if tilted, should always be tilted away from you.

5.      You are through with your wine, tea, or water. The waitperson approaches you to refill your glass. Please do not hold your hand over your glass indicating “no more"! The proper way to stop the waitperson from refilling your glass is to open your mouth and say “No, thank you.”  NEVER wave away service. By the same token, don't hold your hand up in the air and insult your server by clicking your fingers to get his/her attention.

6.      Never fold your napkin after use. That includes when you are going to the restroom… and when you are through with your meal, too. In the past, it was common to place the napkin on your seat when excusing your self to leave the table temporarily. That is stil OK, but it is more common today to LOOSELY fold the napkin and place it to the left of your plate. A well-trained waitperson should replace it for you. If not, you still left it where it should be.

7.      You’re not in Japan. I shouldn't even have to mention this one. Please don’t pick your teeth at the table, or anywhere in the restaurant. That's why at casual restaurants, the tooth picks (if provided) are to be grabbed as you leave the restaurant. Wait until you are in the car and gross out people in the car next to you. Thanks.

8.      Butter bread or rolls only one bite at a time… and only place one bite at a time in your “dipping oil.” Also, only cut one bite of food at a time.

9.      In a buffet, remember that you may waddle back to the buffet as many times as you care to. Never stack your food so that any item covers another. When you return from the buffet table, your plate should have the equivalent of an entrée and two or three “sides”, unless you are too lazy to go back again. 

10.  Elbows on the table? I don't even need to talk about this one, do I? Well, surprise, it is OK to place your elbows on the table between courses and during conversation.

If you got 10 out of 10 right, I'd enjoy having dinner with you sometime. If you got over half wrong, I've probably already had dinner with you. Again... if you don't care about these things, thank me for giving you 10 ways to prove it. Bon appetit!

3 comments:

  1. Love these basic rules that EVERYONE should already know. However, you forgot a few more…..
    In today's world of "Social-media-connection", It appalls me to no end to see couples or worse, families dining out and being glued to their Smartphone or "Pad-o'-the-moment" devices. An evening does not go by where I have not witnessed this RUDE behavior. It's bad enough that LAZY-ASSED parents feel the need to placate their children with these devices(I call it "Third Party Parenting" or, T.P.P.)but, is that text, email or Facebook comment so important while you are spending quality time with your loved ones??
    And while I am on the subject, "TEXTING WHILE WALKING" is not only dangerous to those around you but completely SELFISH.! Why should servers or worse, other patrons have to zig-zag so you can multi-task???
    Heres' an idea: put the damn phone down while walking to your table! As a child, you learned to walk with out one, so a few seconds of no texting won't kill you…

    Sorry and thanks for the rant… I noticed there were ZERO comments on here. I wanted to post this diatribe on your Facebook page but, alas we are not friends! I did send a request though… ;-)
    Best to you and warm regards!
    Craigers Hanzelka

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    Replies
    1. There are no comments here because the article hit close to home to 9 out of 10 readers. It is even an insult to the parents of many (who taught their children to turn their knife blades outward). There's a practical reason for ALL table manners and it shouldn't be rocket science to eat like you've been in public before.

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