Dining etiquette is one of the most important all-time etiquettes, as eating is very essential to human existence.
What differentiates us from animals while eating is simply our manners.
We want to eat and have others eat in a manner that is adorable, therefore, dining etiquette is very important for both children and adults.
When invited for a meal, arrive at the table on time. “A hungry man is an angry man”, so you don’t want to keep anyone waiting at the dining.
If you are a guest in someone’s home, remember to bring the host or hostess gift(s) that can be enjoyed later e.g. a bottle of wine, nuts etc. Don’t expect that it must be used as a part of the meal as your host may already have a plan. It just shows a sense of responsibility to bring along something.
Your appearance shouldn’t be a turnoff for anyone so, ensure you look neat and tidy.
After you are seated, your napkin should be removed from the table and placed across your lap. This is the first thing you should do upon being seated.
You have to wait for your host/hostess to begin eating before you start except the host/hostess asks you to continue without them. Nevertheless, it’s better to wait.
It’s important to understand table setting though they differ based on country, formality, e.t.c., there are still basic settings.
Use your cutlery correctly
Handle the cutlery firmly, holding the fork in your left hand such that the prongs of the fork are facing downwards. While holding a fork, you should keep your index finger straight while the other fingers fold around its handle.
The knife must be in your right hand to enable easy cutting of the food. The fork is held horizontally between the thumb and the index finger to provide an ample support for eating properly.
Ensure that you don’t keep the fork on the table in the intervals during eating; keep it at the side of your plate with the prongs pointing upwards.
If you are having tea, don’t put the teaspoon in your mouth, the teaspoon is basically for you to stir your tea with, neither should you put your bread knife or any of the knives in your mouth.
Don’t make sandwiches on the table. Imagine a typical English breakfast where you’re served toast bread, omelette, tea, sausage, etc. Just cut your bread in little mouth bites and eat.
Don’t eat with your hands unless it’s finger food like puff puff, samosa, etc.
If you’re eating meals like garri and the likes take a cue from the host if you’d rather eat with your hands. A host that’ll tolerate the use of hands will typically give you the option of water to wash your hands.
Remember to maintain good posture.
It is perfectly acceptable for you to rest your forearms on the edge of the table as long as you don’t tip the table. During the meal you can rest your passive hand across your lap but, never your elbow.
While eating during the meal always remember to chew with your mouth closed to avoid irritating others with the sight of your partially chewed food, or the sound of it.
Never put your arm across others food; also don’t stretch across for anything you need, ask the person closest to pass it to you.
If someone asks for the salt, pass both salt and pepper at once.
Don’t add salt or any spice to the food without first of all tasting it even if you love your food spicy. It would show you don’t trust the cook.
“Don’t talk while eating” this simply means “don’t talk with food in your mouth”. It’s not practical to avoid small talks while dining as even many business meetings are held at meal times. However it’s okay to talk but in an orderly, moderate manner. If someone has asked you a question, gesture that you will answer in a moment by raising your hand or finger, signaling that you’ve heard them, then
wait until you have finished chewing and swallowing your bite before you speak.
Avoid controversial topics, you don’t want to be the reason someone lost their appetite.
Endeavour to avoid disruptive behaviors such as burping, snorting or singing, neither should you call attention to the rudeness of others. If a person brings up a topic that is controversial or simply inappropriate at the dining table, simply change the subject to something more appropriate. The rude person will probably get the message.
It’s important to compliment your host’s/hostess’s effort, even if you happen not to like the food or it wasn’t as tasty.
Never say someone’s food isn’t nice.
If the host or hostess asks how the meal was, say you enjoyed it.
Ensure the meal isn’t interrupted by your cellphone, you may switch it off or put on silent mode.
It’s rude to get up and leave the table while others are still eating. You should remain seated if possible. If you need to get up for any reason, you should take permission to be excused. This is a courtesy request from both children and adults as well.
If you must pick your teeth at a table after a meal, it’s proper to cover your mouth with your left hand while holding your toothpick on the right hand to avoid spitting particles on others. Always use a toothpick not your hand or tongue.
Always show gratitude by thanking your host at the end meal.
In an informal setting, offer to help your host or hostess, by way of clearing the table or other cleaning tasks as needed. It is rude to eat and run, leaving the host with all the mess.
Always send a thank you note after you’ve left to let your host or hostess know you really appreciated being hosted.
Thank you for reading and …keep it classy always.