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Did your mom teach you table manners?

April 2, 2012 - Taste Buds
The Buds are pretty smart gals. Well, at least we seem to think so. At the very least, we do have experience in many different situations, thus making us collectively a wealth of information. However, at a recent Bud outing, we were faced with a slight dilemma -- what were the proper table manners?

Here's what the Buds were staring right in the face. A table set with multiple forks, spoons and knives, as well as a spoon and fork above the plate. We've seen Pretty Woman enough times to know that you just start with the outside silverware and work your way in (luckily, we were able to finish our food before the waiter came and took it away, unlike poor Julia Roberts). But kind of like the "Who's on first?" comedic bit, the question, "What is this one for?" started bouncing around the table and opened a whole can of etiquette worms.

The situation came to a head when we realized we weren't sure which utensil to use to stir our iced tea. We knew not to choose a spoon from next to the plate, but we thought perhaps the spoon above the plate was a dessert spoon. The Buds, to the horror of Emily Post, stirred their tea with their bread knives (the non-knife side). It was just a few swirls -- no biggie, right?

As the six course meal progressed, the Buds also came to realize that we had our elbows all over the table. Gasp! Elbows on tables and desks are a running theme for the Buds, as we both have developed a problem we like to call "Elbow Shirt" -- a hole in the left elbow of some of our most worn shirts. Sure, we laugh about it, but we don't want to offend anyone with our elbows on the table. Even though we were seated at a table by ourselves, that was no reason not to try to be proper.

At that point, we wondered what Emily Post would think of our behavior at the table, so doing what good, manner-minding Buds do, we did a little light Internet research. According to Emily Post's "Etipedia" at, here are a few tips:

1. Always cut your food one bite at a time.

2. Chew with your mouth closed. Avoid slurping, smacking and other "gross" noises.

3. Don't pick your teeth at the table.

4. Always use your napkin.

5. Avoid slouching and don't place your elbows on the table (The Buds blew the second part of this one!) Although, she does go on to add that it's ok to put your elbows on the table to converse between courses. Whew! The Buds do a lot of conversing, so that's good!

6. Always say "excuse me" when leaving the table.

7. Signal that you're finished by placing your utensils on the plate so that both handles rest on the number 4 (pretend your plate is a clock). Leave your plate where it is. Pushing it away is impolite.

Most of these seem pretty obvious, but it certainly doesn't hurt to do a little brushing up. Probably not many of us are trained in eating formal dinners with fancy plates and tables full of silverware, but if you know some basic etiquette, you can go in looking like you almost know what you're doing. So the next time a formal occasion comes up on the Buds' calendar, we'll be armed with etiquette and ready to go!


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