Table manners are the rules of etiquette for eating. They may also include the appropriate use of utensils. Different cultures observe different rules for table manners. Each family or group sets its own standards for how strictly these rules are to be enforced.
Below are a few tips to be considered in showing good table manners:
The host or hostess takes the first bite unless he or she instructs otherwise. The host begins the meal after all food is served and everyone is seated.
We should always taste before adding salt and pepper are added. Applying condiments or seasoning before the food is tasted is viewed as an insult to the cook, as it shows a lack of faith in the cook’s ability to prepare a meal.
In a Christian household, a family meal may commence after a prayer is said, or at dinner parties the guests might begin the meal by offering some favourable comments on the food and thanks to the host. In a group dining situation it is considered impolite to begin eating before all the group have been served their food and are ready to start.
The fork is held with the left hand and the knife held with the right. The fork is held generally with the tines down, using the knife to cut food or help guide food on to the fork. When no knife is being used, the fork can be held with the tines up. Under no circumstances should the fork be held like a shovel, with all fingers wrapped around the base. With the tines up, the fork balances on the side of the index finger, held in place with the thumb and index finger. The knife must never enter the mouth or be licked.
Food should always be chewed with the mouth closed. Talking with food in one’s mouth is seen as very crude. Licking one’s fingers and eating slowly can also be considered impolite.
Don’t pick your teeth at the table.
Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses.)
Avoid slurping, smacking, and blowing your nose at the dining table.
It is impolite to reach over someone to pick up food or other items. Diners should always ask for items to be passed along the table to them. In the same vein, diners should pass those items directly to the person who asked.
After eating, place the knife and fork together on the plate, with the fork on the left, its tines facing upwards. Napkins should be placed unfolded on the table when the meal is finished.
At family meals, children are often expected to ask permission to leave the table at the end of the meal.
Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink
Should a mobile telephone (or any other device) ring or if a text message is received, the diner should ignore the call. In exceptional cases where the diner feels the call may be of an urgent nature, he should ask to be excused, leave the room and take the call (or read the text message) out of earshot of the other diners.
Family meal times should be pleasurable and interesting, such that everyone looks forward to it. It shouldn’t be a dreaded time of criticizing, fault-finding or displaying odd manners.