While everyone is interested in having a filling feast at a party or a gourmet meal at a swanky restaurant, many are unaware of the table manners or the rules of etiquette that one needs to follow in such situations. Following these etiquettes would surely make dining out, an enjoyable experience.
It's no big secret that Keralites enjoy their non-vegetarian dishes. From chicken, beef and mutton to fish, they prefer having at least one non-vegetarian dish with every meal. It is quite normal that meat gets stuck between the teeth. For some people, it is a must to use toothpicks after every meal, no matter what they eat. However, in some places, it is considered rude to use a toothpick at the table. It is best to use a toothpick privately in the wash room. In case, you use it at the table or in public, do it discreetly with one hand covering the mouth. Do not throw used toothpicks on the table. You could wrap them in tissue before keeping them on the table. It would then be easier for the cleaning staff to remove them without touching them or coming into direct contact with them.
Bones and other food waste must not be carelessly thrown on the table. Instead, it should be put in the vessel that has been provided for this purpose. Even if a separate vessel isn’t given, the waste should be kept on the side of your plate. Or you could transfer the waste to the side plate. However, make sure that you ask the waiter to clear it as soon as the plate gets filled.
Another golden rule of table etiquette is to not talk while eating. Some people talk loudly in restaurants and dining areas, often annoying their fellow diners. It is your duty to respect others' privacy as it must be a special dinner for the person sitting at the table next to yours or they might be attending a meeting.
Cloth napkins are not meant to be used for wiping your mouth or face. Instead, it has to be placed on your lap to protect your outfit, in case you spill food. At the end of the meal, the napkin should be folded and placed on the left side of your plate setting.
At a small table of just four or five people, wait until everyone else has been served, before starting to eat. It is quite natural that you have an urge to start eating as soon as the food is served on your plate. However, it is basic manners to wait until everyone else is served.
Keralites love eating their meals using their hands. Our dishes taste great when they are first felt with your fingers. However, in some countries, it is considered highly inappropriate to touch your food. Moreover, you might feel odd eating with your hands while everyone uses cutlery. So, practising to eat using fork and knife or spoon at your homes is a good idea, as it would spare you the embarrassment at certain formal occasions. You could eat your regular rice and curries using a spoon and fork at least once a week. Eating using a spoon is indeed an acquired skill that requires regular practice. Practising to eat using a fork and spoon without dropping the food or without making too much clattering noise is vital in table etiquette. Moreover, it is necessary that kids are trained to eat using spoons at a young age itself.
It is always better to take as little or as much food as you want on your plate. You could always go back for seconds. However, it is important that you do not waste food and take what is just required.
There are some manners and etiquette one needs to follow if you are invited to a restaurant for a meal. Make sure that you reach the destination on time. Moreover, dressing appropriately would surely make an impression. In case your host asks you to order the dishes, do not order the most expensive items in the menu. Leave that decision to your host or you could offer to split the bill. In case you are unhappy with the service or the dishes that have been served, do not express it publicly as it might hurt your host’s feeling. Keep in mind that it is the duty of the host to pay the bill. It is not good manners to argue with your host to split the bill or snatching it away from his/her hands when the bill is brought to the table at the end of the meal. Instead, you could politely offer to share the bill.
Do not forget to reserve tables at a restaurant if you are planning to dine out with your friends or family. The restaurants often shower special treatment on their guests who have made reservations. Similarly, it is important that you show up at the right time too. In case you are stuck in traffic or are likely to be late due to other reasons, it is your duty to let them know about it. Saying ‘Thank You’ is a golden rule in a restaurant. Appreciating the chef or the hotel staff for their amazing service would definitely make you look good. If we thank them even if they are serving us just a glass of water, it would really make an impression and they would offer us their best services.
In a buffet, where a number of dishes are on the display, you must have a clear idea about the dishes or the combination of dishes that you wish to try. Do not hesitate to ask the hotel staff for the menu. Even though the menu isn’t displayed in a buffet, you could always ask the staff for it. It is their duty to explain the dishes to the customers. There might be starters like soups and salads and a main course that include rice or bread items with various types of curries followed by desserts. If you know the menu, then you could plan your buffet by trying each dish in the right course or order. People tend to fill their plates with food as they do not want to go back for seconds or try other dishes. In such cases, it is likely that you throw away food as you have taken more than what you need. A buffet should be enjoyed slowly, tasting and trying each dish separately or as combinations.
In case you did not enjoy the food or the service at a restaurant, it is impolite to express your opinion publicly or in a rude manner. You could politely give the feedback to the senior manager or drop in a comment through an email message or comment.