I’m trying to remember who taught me the way to set a proper table but I’m not coming up with any distinct memory. This means (a) it was too traumatic a lesson and I’ve erased the file, or (b) it just happened like putting on socks. Probably it was the latter.
I bet my kids have no idea on which side the forks should be or where to put the water glass on a properly set table. It’s not all their fault really since in our house it hardly matters. We don’t have a dining room so our idea of setting the table is pretty much just pushing everything to one end of the kitchen table and fitting five people on the other.
I think it’s kind of a shame that we’ve lost all sense of etiquette in our home so as any tech savvy person living in the 20teens, I searched the internet for help and I found a list of some table manners / dining etiquette worthy of discussion.
1. SEATING ETIQUETTE – Generally, the head of the family is the head of the table. This poses two problems for me because who’s in charge of the family changes at any given time, and, our table is round.
2. FOOD SERVICE – Diners are supposed to help themselves to food and then pass each dish to others, or the hostess may dish out to food to each guest from the right. We’ve tried the “take some and pass the platter” routine. It never works. Seems we are all good takers and but lousy passers. Lucky for us the 1/2 table is small enough that you can pretty much reach everything you need without asking. With regard to the hostess duties, I cook, I clean, I bitch and moan and mediate arguments – thus, I do not serve.
3. NAPKINS – You are supposed to remove the napkin from it’s pretty origami display and spread it on your lap immediately upon taking your place at the table. Assuming we have napkins that day, they are cheap paper and far to small for folding. If you use it and put it on your lap, our dog’s interpretation is that you’re offering him flavored paper which he will steal, and eat like a ninja.
4. UTENSILS – I read that you should hold your fork in your left hand with tines facing down and cut your food in small pieces with your right index finger along the top of the knife blade. Put your fork and knife down in between bites. Now, I don’t pay much attention to who uses what, or how, when we eat. As long as nobody bleeds or launches peas with their spoon, I’m happy.
5. TABLE SETTINGS – this was just too long to reiterate however, the gist of it is forks on the left, knives on the right. That’s so funny, we have forks in the dishwasher usually, and knives in the sink. Wash one and use it.
There’s a ton more information about dining etiquette on the internet and if you are looking for examples of what NOT to do, you might enjoy this vignette from one of my favorite TV shows: The King Of Queens Bad Table Manners
But if you really want to enjoy a lesson on what you should be doing, try this how to on Good Table Manners
Footnote: I have set the table properly for us all once upon a time. I never used paper plates and we had cloth napkins exclusively. I know this doesn’t sound at all like me but it’s true. One day I might break out some good china and give it another go. If I only had good china.