I have been preparing a little book, which I will give to Original Bunn on her sixteenth birthday. It will contain all manner of old fashioned information, things that I see the young set no longer pay much attention to. She may scoff, but I do hope that some of the stuff sticks with her.

This morning I added this chapter, much of the content comes from the Johnny Walker Striding Man Magazine.

Good table manners come naturally to most of us. We know very well not to talk with our mouths full; to chew with our mouths closed and to keep our elbows to our sides and of f the table top. But certain other rules of fine dining are slightly more intricate and less obvious.

For example, did you know that bread should be broken, with your hands, rather than cut with a knife? And that the proper way to eat a mielie is across, not around?

Nowhere is a man’s breeding and class more obvious than at the dinner table, in his display of table manners – or lack thereof. And while I have no doubt you are in no danger of ever entering such uncouth territory, it never hurts to brush up on a few of your table Ps and Qs.

1. Cut just one bite at a time, rather than chopping everything up in one go, no matter how hungry you may be.
2. Wait until everybody is seated before eating.
3. When dining with others, everyone should start and finish at the same time. If you are a fast eater try to pace yourself.
4. Do not blow on food that is hot. Wait until it cools.
5. When finished eating do not push your plate away from you.
6. Do not break your bread into the soup, nor mash anything into your gravy. It is bad taste to mix food on the plate into a mush.
7. Never leave the table without asking to be excused.
8. Never pick your teeth at the table.
9. Once seated, place the napkin, unfolded, on your lap and leave it there until you have finished eating. Once you have finished, place the napkin loosely to the left of your plate.
10. Use a napkin only for your mouth. Never use it for your nose, face or forehead.
11. If a course is set before you that you do not wish, simply do not touch it.
12. If you prefer, take up asparagus with your fingers. Olives and artichokes are also always so eaten.
13. If at all possible, refrain from coughing or sneezing at the table, and if needs be excuse yourself.
14. Soup is to be lifted by the spoon in movements away from yourself, not toward. Do not stoop toward the bowl!
15. The salt and pepper are always passed together, even if only one is asked for.

Nothing indicates a well bred man more than a proper mode of eating. A man may pass muster by dressing well, and may sustain himself tolerably in conversation; but if he be not perfectly au fait, dinner will betray him.
Hints on Etiquette, 1836


46 Comments Add yours

  1. MissChris says:

    So true – me, major fail on the salt and pepper thing!! Oops

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, I also didn’t know that one.

  2. JustMe says:

    What an awesome gift!!! I am making Little Madam a compilation of recipes (all hand written) of the things I make that she really likes. She often says “Mommy, now this one MUST please go in MY recipe book!”

    Regarding No 6: But it tastes BETTER that way!!! My dad always used to say “if I wanted you to eat your food that way, I would have cooked it that way” *relishes at the thought of mixing her mashed potatoes with gravy and mielies and peas*

    1. theonlycin says:

      hahaha, like your dad’s comment, will borrow it πŸ™‚

  3. Rosemary says:

    This is a wonderful idea. My boy is turning 16 in September, I think I’ll try make something special for him – I know it’s a waste at his age, but maybe he’ll look back at it one day and smile at his corny mother. I am sure a girl would treasure it more.

    1. JustMe says:

      I’m doing Little Madam’s for her 21st / for when she moves out on her own!

      1. theonlycin says:

        I think he will love it Rosemary.
        JustMe … 21 *sigh* that’s a long time off …

      2. JustMe says:

        I write slowly LOL

  4. JustMe says:

    *is grateful there is no mention of the allowable amount of glasses of Merlot*

  5. nzwakaduja says:

    I’ve actually learnt a lot from this post. I’m happy to report though, that I have always eaten my mielie across πŸ™‚

    1. theonlycin says:

      I was guilty of eating mine the wrong way *blush*

      1. JustMe says:

        Me too! It’s neater our way and one does not get Bovril bits all over your face then! Yes, people, JustMe eats a thin spreading of Bovril or Marmite on her mielies … don’t diss it till you try it πŸ˜€

      2. theonlycin says:

        I seem to remember the Bovril debate … still haven’t tried the Marmite on mielie …

  6. buttercup600 says:

    What an awesome idea Cindy…and I can assure you it will stay with her forever. I still remember what my Ouma’s favourite saying was…”Do not be angry or sour at the table; whatever might be….put on a cheerful mien, for good humor makes any dish a feast.”. Loved reading through your list. …oh yes…I was taught to never ever to eat the meat off a bone (cut it off instead!!!) I am so NOT good with that one!!!!!!!!!!! Hoe kan jy dan nou ‘n braai tjoppie andersins geniet?????

    1. theonlycin says:

      Nee, dis onmoontlik! En daai beesstert beentjies wat so lekker afgesuig moet word ….

  7. nice one, the book will be very interesting

    1. theonlycin says:

      I hope so Sidey πŸ™‚

  8. deepercolors says:

    Asparagus with your fingers? Whoops. I hope she enjoys it. If she doesn’t now, she will in the future.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Nothing better than asparagus with fingers, dipped into a nice sauce that dribbles down your chin πŸ™‚

      1. JustMe says:

        YAY *notices that there is no ban on using the napkin on your chin*

      2. theonlycin says:

        Or the back of your hand so you can lick it …

      3. JustMe says:

        Licking is not banned *jiggy dance* as long as you don’t pick!

  9. adeeyoyo says:

    My father was a real stickler for table manners! He would have had a fit at #10, lol!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, my grandpa too ;O

  10. Naomi says:

    Great post, thanks Cin, also had no idea about the miele thing. A well-bred American friend once explained their different ways with cutlery…she intimated that we hold our forks like barabarians (upside down), and as for not placing both knife and fork down between each mouthful…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Eish, barbarians? Who knew …

  11. Sue says:

    Love your list …. I am a terrible stickler for table manners too! One you didn’t mention which drives me crazy is when people butter their bread/roll straight from the little butter dish on the table instead of putting the butter onto their side plate first. Not sure of your view on this?!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oooh Yes, Sue! Even worse, I was a guest at someone’s house recently and she put the margerine tub on the table!

      1. JustMe says:

        Was she a good friend Cindy? When my sister-in-law comes for a braai, I normally do that too *hangs head in shame*, but not for a posh dinner *shakes head* Oh no!

      2. theonlycin says:

        Not a friend Chantelle, the wife of one of my husband’s clients; and it was the first time she had ever met us!

  12. Kavita says:

    Napkin for the nose?!!! hehehehe.. Now who would do that!!
    But I didn’t know about the salt and pepper thingie…
    And it’s a VERY good thing to have to break bread with hands..using a knife on bread is not all that easy! πŸ™‚
    These are some real points to note, Cin… Thanks a ton for sharing!!!

    1. theonlycin says:

      We live and learn Kavita πŸ™‚

  13. nrhatch says:

    Lovely idea for a 16th birthday!

    1. theonlycin says:

      In this savage world it’s nice to hang on to some niceties.

  14. butlermonroe says:

    What about sticking your pinky out with a cop of tea? That’s real faancy, right?

    1. theonlycin says:

      LOL, dead posh innit?

  15. izziedarling says:

    Oh, honey, you are speaking my language … bad table manners, meh!

  16. slpmartin says:

    At one of the univesities that I worked, we would bring prospective young scholars to campus as part of the recruiting process. Although most were quite brilliant, they had no idea how to handle a formal meal. Your daughter shall find this list valuable I’m sure.

  17. Nice post Cin – I didn’t know about passing the salt ‘n pepper together. My mom’s elder sister game me a book, called Finesse (sounds similar to what you have in mind for OB) called OB – with all sorts of info. Some useful, like how to seat a dinner party correctly and set the table accordingly. I did have a chuckle though at a bit that said “one should remember to change your hose every day”. HOSE – it sounds so old-fashined.

  18. Good table manners are essential, but those are only appliciable in the West. They are mostly pointless in the East, where you have a whole new set of manners to learn.

  19. Jamie Dedes says:

    Wonderful! What a nice gift to your daughter. What a nice reminder for the rest of us.

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