Dining with bon ton

Bon Ton

Nobody thinks of going unnoticed. A table reveals a lot about us. A brush up on basic rules is a passport for lunches and dinners without complexes.

1. A chilling dinner
The conference is over. I’ve been invited to dinner in a beautiful hotel; the direction of the evening is very accurate.
A stylish gentleman makes me find my way to a table of people I do not know, already seated. Someone replies to my “Good evening” and no one shows up.
I start a conversation with my neighbour, a good manner lady, but after few words the other neighbour stretches his arm passing in front of me, grabbing a bottle of water and filling the glass to the brim.
He swigs while the elbow is not detached from the table.

Meanwhile the appetizers are served. The seemingly good manner lady slowly and surgically chooses from the tray pieces that look better, then, after her sorting, she indicates with a knife to another lady her starter and comments on them. The knife hovering in the air.
I cannot not notice, stunned, another diner who chews with his mouth half open, talking.
People apparently civilians and elegant, yet so clumsy at the table. An involuntary- but annoying – rudeness.


2. Fundamentals
Food and business go together forever, but if we add little good manners, the mix will be more pleasant. In those occasions, you lower the personal defences and good education gaps emerge in all their evidence and speak (bad) of ourselves
So why don’t we go over the grammar of being at table?
Without going to sometimes-incomprehensible rules of court, we can begin by saying that the etiquette is not the enemy of kindness but it’s the glue between those who, are sitting at the same table, creating a dedicated user-friendliness harmony, empathy and mutual well-being. A few basic rules can be summed up in three words: composure, discretion, kindness.

Being at table

Before sitting down at the table greets the group without introducing himself, not being in a living room where the presentation instead is necessary.
Ladies will first accommodate at table. Bon appétit!” is an inelegant wish, but if someone says, it is polite to answer, “Thank you.”
In conversation, showing interest in listening is the first rule. You must respect the opinions of others, never monopolize with speeches too long, and do not talk about work if it is not just a business lunch. Do not enter into the intimate matters, nor do talk about politics, religion, death and disease.
It is manifestly vulgar rest your elbows on the table, bending toward the plate, and talk with your mouth full. And talk loudly or with people from nearby tables too.
You sit straight, with the elbows close to the lower trunk, only the wrists will lean on the table.


3. You do, you do not
Do not fill the glass with water or wine, but only fill it halfway. Clean your lips before drinking; in order not leave unseemly opaque marks on the edge of the glass. The man pours water or wine only to the ladies beside him, only if requested, not to other diners. The bottle will pass from hand to hand without letting it “fly”.
When serving drinks is the waiter, leave the glass where it is. He will serve without any “help” of the diner. A nice “thanks you” to the waiter is a courteous gesture but not required.
The towel will be explained only when the first course will be served, and if there is the need to get up from the table, put it on your seat.
The card with the menu – slightly open so that it keeps the balance –will be placed in the space between the plate of bread, on the left, and the glasses, on the right, so you can see it. If it is a big menu, you will lie on the table, so that you will not have a barrier in front.
The bread is broken (not cut) onto the saucer, not to crumble on the tablecloth.
Towards food you will have a sober attitude, neither hungry or fussy, and you will not comment on the quality or cooking. It is impolite to leave food on your plate. If you do not know, a certain food is better not to choose it or use it in moderation.
The cutlery does not wield, the knife does not go to the mouth. Before the plate you will find the cutlery for the dessert, a fork in the case of hard” pies or cakes” and a teaspoon in the event of cream or “soft” cakes.

Fork,spoon and knife

4. Simple rules to be together in harmony
If you want to talk during the meal, the cutlery should be placed on the plate with the points close and the handles apart. At the end, the cutlery will leave in place at 6 o’clock, perpendicularly, one beside the other, the knife blade inward.
If the service is a buffet, it is not in good taste brim the dish to prevent a second “round”, seeming a glutton. If you get up from the table to a “supply”, do not offer to “bring something” to other diners. You can only do this gesture towards your lady.
if the entire plate, white fish (sea bass, sea bream, sole) will be cleaned by each diner by his own, starting from the head and the tail. Skin and bones will be removed with the help of knife, while the pieces are cut with a fork.
Cheese: you will use the fork exclusively for soft cheeses.

Cheeses and Fruit

The fruit will be served after the dessert and in general, for the difficulties of peel, will be ready in portions or on trays.
to be absent from the table to smoke out of the room it is an ugly and unforgivable habit. Taking off at the end of the meal, without greeting the guests, it’s a bad habit too.
As you can see the rules are mostly logical and intuitive, some come from the habit, others are common sense and good taste, none is imposed without a reason.
This is the modern etiquette, not a protocol of formality but a primer of practical behaviour in order to know how to juggle with ease, stay well with others and always do a good figure.