Dining Etiquette and Manners
Utensils are placed on the table in the order of use—from the outside in. Rather than hold them in a fist, rest the fork or spoon on your middle finger and grasp the handle with your thumb and forefinger. I wouldn't use a fork as a shovel. After using a utensil, rest it diagonally on your plate, not off to the side like an oar and certainly not on the table. By resting all used utensils side by side on your plate, you signal to your server that you are finished with that course.
As soon as you sit down to eat, your napkin goes in your lap, folded in half. Do not wipe your mouth with your napkin; pat or blot your lips with it—especially before taking a drink. If you need to leave the table, place your napkin to the left of your plate, keeping soiled parts out of view from others. When the meal is over, do the same. If your plate is gone, you may put the napkin where the plate used to be.
If you are eating at someone's home, do not ask for items not on the table, such as ketchup, steak sauce, or spices. This can be an insult to your host. If there are seasonings on the table, taste your food before you use them. It is a compliment to the chef to eat the food seasoned as served.
When you are having dinner with other people wait until everyone is served before you start eating. If your host tells you to go ahead and start, do so. Eat as quietly as possible; don't scrape your plate or bowl with your utensils; don't snap your napkin; and don't wave your fork in the air. Be dignified. Sit with good posture. You can put your elbows on the table before or after the meal—never during. The best place for your hands is in your lap. I advise against drumming your fingers, playing with utensils, jiggling your knee—and never touch your hair at the table.
RULES OF ETIQUETTE
Cut your food one bite at a time. I advise folks not to smack their lips, slurp their drinks, or make a ball of food in your mouth creating Chipmunk Cheek. Do not talk with food in your mouth. Do not take a drink with food in your mouth. If you want to talk or drink, rest your fork on your plate and go ahead—but swallow first. One action at a time. Certainly do not chew with your mouth open.
Don't use your finger to push food onto your fork, use a knife or piece of bread. When you are done eating, don't move your plate or announce you are done. If you must spit something out, do not spit it into your hand or your napkin but onto your fork or spoon. Park the offending article on the edge of your plate. The exception would be a pit. It you don't spit; you push it into your fingers with your tongue and set it on your plate. If you find a hair or something else in your food that isn't supposed to be there, don't mention it.
ETIQUETTE AND MANNERS
Let's not blow our noses at the table. Go to the restroom—and wash your hands afterward. Same for removing something stuck in your teeth. No using toothpicks or dental floss at the table. If you see someone in your party with food sticking out from between their teeth, or an errant piece of food on their face, it is nice to tell them or if you can, give them a signal. If you leave the table, say, "Excuse me."
Sip your beverages rather than gulping; and let's not crunch ice in our mouths. Pour your drinks into a glass instead of drinking from a can, bottle or carton. I wouldn't put ice into a hot drink to cool it down. This shows a lack of patience and patience is a virtue. Don't dunk if you are in public or have company. Place empty packets of sugar, cream or butter on one of your plates, rather than on the table.
Break off one piece of bread and butter it while held on your plate. If it is communal bread, use a knife. With communal butter, transfer enough all at once onto your plate instead of repeatedly going back for more after your knife is soiled. If you are asked to pass either the salt or the pepper, pass them both as a pair. They should stay together on the table. The pepper is the one with the big holes.
If you order French fries, do not smother them with ketchup on your plate. Make a small pool of ketchup on your plate and dip the fries individually. The rule about eating them with your fingers is this: you may, if your meal is eaten with fingers, such as a hot dog, hamburger, or sandwich. With steak or chicken breast, eat both with a fork.
RULES OF ETIQUETTE
Don't pour steak sauce, or barbecue sauce, all over your steak. Pour it on your plate next to your steak and dip one piece at a time in the sauce. You may sop up gravy with bread but use a fork. If there is a communal sauce for dipping, please do not double dip—don't place a piece of food in the dip after you have taken a bite of it.
ETIQUETTE AND MANNERS
When eating spaghetti, place your fork into the pile vertically and twirl until you have a bite in a neat clump. You may do this directly into the plate or bowl, or use a large spoon under the fork. Bite off the danglers rather than trying to suck them up into your mouth. An alternative is to cut a bite at a time; cut and eat, cut and eat. Of course, you may cut up the whole plate at once for a child.
Breakfast pastries should be cut into halves or quarters and then eaten with fingers or fork. If you are served a salad with large pieces of lettuce, cut it into bite sized pieces one bite at a time. Sandwiches more than one inch thick should be halved or quartered. You may eat Shish Kebab from the skewer only if it is an hors d'oeuvre. Otherwise, push the chunks onto your plate first and place the skewer on your plate.
Skim soup from the side of the bowl nearest you toward the back. Sip from the side of the spoon rather than the end. If you must tip the bowl to get that last spoonful, tip the bowl away from you. If you want a piece of bread, put the soup spoon on the plate under your bowl and use the same hand for the bread that you used for the soup spoon.