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Oct 14, 2007 08:32 AM

Old school table manners... what were you taught?

My Sicillian grandfather was hell bent and determined to teach his grandkids good table manners. Some of his rules were: napkins on the lap, elbows & arms could not rest on the table, other hand in your lap, chew w/ your mouth closed, no singing at the table (four girls), no eating until everyone was seated and you said grace, sit up straight, etc. He would even stab our hands w/ his fork if he saw our hand was on the table (he didn't draw blood but geesh). 'Course it was perfectly acceptable to sop up w/ bread the juices oozing from our rare steaks or the sauce from our pasta. I even recall that man sitting down to lunch at the table to have soup which he ate out of the pan it was heated in (he should've practiced more what he preached)!

To this day I will shut down completely if anyone in eyesight is smacking their lips. Even as a kid I would turn away and cover my ears!

So, what were you taught? Do you follow those same rules you were raised with or did you let a few fall by the wayside?

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  1. My grandma always said, "Don't sing at the table." I never knew why, so I asked her. She said she didn't know either. "When we were little my daddy told us not to sing at the table, and when my daddy said not to do something, you didn't ask why, you just didn't do it." So I still have no idea why it's bad to sing at the table. (Plus, I know some families where they all sing grace at the table.)

    5 Replies
    1. re: revsharkie

      My Polish grandmother always told me that if I sang at the table I'd marry a stupid man. Despite occasionally flouting this rule, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with my husband.

      1. re: Hunicsz

        My parents always told us not to sing at the table, too. So I vowed if I ever had children, they would be allowed to sing as long as their mouths weren't full. I figure if you're happy enough to sing, you should be allowed to.

        1. re: Hunicsz

          Wow - thats suspiciously like what my Indian Bengali grandmother told me - if you sing while eating you will marry a crazy man... I never sang while eating but I cant vouch for the sanity of a man who would marry me.

          1. re: Hunicsz

            I guess that explains it. As a child, my wife must have sung at the table, regardless of what her family told her!


          2. re: revsharkie

            My mother/grandmother always said: Sing before you eat, cry before you sleep.

          3. We were brought up strictly at the dining table, wait for everyone to be served, ask for things to be passed do not stretch, knives and forks down between mouthfuls, with upside down fork crossing the knife. When finished knife and fork at 6.30pm. Break a piece of bread and butter each piece as you want it. Turn soup plate away from you. Peas to be eaten on the prongs of the fork.

            17 Replies
            1. re: smartie

              Oooh, you listed some I forgot. "don't reach across the table" and break a pc of bread... don't bite your roll. Good ones!

              1. re: lynnlato

                lynnlato, I did extensive study on the history of Italian emigration to Canada, and I'm wondering if the "hands in lap" thing is an example of a desire to integrate into the new country? It is certainly not a criterion of good manners anywhere in Southern Italy as far as I know - and they have MANY, being a courtly and highly traditional society.

                It used to be looked down on in Sicily to dine al fresco - only peasants and gypsies did that. Of course that has changed in Sicily and Calabria. (I'm not of Sicilian origin but both of my main profs were).

                1. re: lagatta

                  Interesting. I kind of always assumed it was just an American thing. Never really associated that with my Italian heritage. I just mentioned he was Sicillian b/c he was a tough dude w/ rules! Ha!

                2. re: lynnlato

                  another one: place napkin on lap as soon as you sit down at the all those others. I too freak when I see others violating "the manners rules" it's just so ingrained. the roll and butter thing too. I wish all my bothers and sisters were on this they would have many more memories of lessons at the was that good manners. I would rather be singing then learning the rules.

                  1. re: windyday

                    Interesting that you mention the bread & butter. We hosted a couple for a "candidate's dinner," and the wife took my bread plate. Oh well, that is life, and the bread was not THAT exciting anyway.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      We were out to dinner with friends last night (at an upscale restaurant) and the table was so crowded that it was difficult to tell whose water glass and bread plate were whose. We all spent a fun 5 minutes sorting it out. "Back in the day," restaurants allocated a reasonable amount of space to a place setting. These days, it seems to be "squeeze as many in as you can."

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        "eat to the left and drink to the right" words to live by....well that and "righty tighty, leftly loosey." ;o)

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          Just encountered the same in three locations - all upper-end to upper-upper-end. I commented to each server that in most restaurants, my party was always given an 8-top, for a party of 4, or a 4-top for a party of 2. I wanted to impress them with the total lack of real estate.

                          In one case, we were a party of 4, and the restaurant had Riedel Sommelier stemware. Our table (standard 4-top) was so over-filled, that we needed to turn in our bread and bread plates, prior to the arrival of the mains.

                          Similar for just the wife and me - the table was overfilled with wine glasses by the third course. The servers had to resort to a side-board, just for our wines, and we had to cycle them, as we wished to indulge.

                          I agree that table tops seem to be shrinking, and table spacing seems to be getting tighter. It's tough to grab all of one's wine glasses, as the behind of the waiter at the next table "cleans" YOUR tabletop.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Funny story on the table top sizes - DS and I went to a very small local restaurant and proceeded to order too much food for a 2 top - the waiter actually invited us to move to a 4 top, which was good - the restaurant got crowded, Dear SO joined us and we had enough room for all. So sorry about the other situations you've been thru.

                    2. re: smartie

                      "Turn soup plate away from you"
                      I was always taught that, in addition to all the other mentioned. For some reason it feels so awkward to me. I try to kep it in mind, but often find myself tilting the bowl toward me when I near the end of my soup. Especially if it was really good!

                      1. re: SweetPea914

                        And spoon the soup toward the far edge of the bowl. I guess this is so you don't spill it on yourself, although I still do.

                        1. re: Fuser

                          For Asians, the rule is soup toward yourself. I suppose if you spill, it is more polite to do it onto yourself than upon your host or their table.

                          1. re: JungMann

                            Asians generally use bowls that are cup-like or deep rather than the shallow wider bowls, often called soup plates, in the West. The rule differs just to make your life more complicated.
                            You can pick up the soup cup and drink from it (there's another CH thread going on this) but you shouldn't pick up the shallow bowl/soup plate which you can tilt gently away from you to get the last few spoonfuls of soup.
                            There are some soup/bouillon cups used in the West that you can drink from as well. Now everybody's heads are spinning...

                          2. re: Fuser

                            As a child I was taught "as little ships go out to sea, I dip my spoon away from me."

                        2. re: smartie

                          Along with turning the soup plate away from you: "as the ships go out to sea, I dip my spoon away from me"

                        3. In addition to much of what has already been mentioned (except the no singing thing) we were taught to only cut a mouth-sized portion at a time instead of cutting all of it at once. I understand doing that for young children, but adults!? When I see someone doing that, I cringe a looks so yahoo-ish...

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: pfarrell

                            I can't stand it when friends of mine do this!

                            1. re: pfarrell

                              The cutting of the entire dish seems to be more concentrated in the US, than most of the rest of the world.

                              I once discussed cutting up one's salad with a French chef, and he was horrified. "If any diner had to cut my salad, to eat it, I would have failed." Still, in too many places (in the US), the salad is often half a head of lettuce, and needs to be cut, just to eat. In the course of ingesting it, one might cut a bit more, so as to eat it. Still, the chef's words ring in my ears, when confronted with giant salad "pieces."

                              The exception for children was mentioned. I would also add the elderly, as my wife does need to cut my M-I-L's food for her, and does so en masse, rather than for each individual bite. Still, at 90+, I overlook it. Just having her with us is worth the price.

                              Hunt, who has been known to make a few swipes of a knife at his ill-prepared salad.

                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I don't think the salad really applies as much in my opinion. I have been known to cut my giant tomato wedges all at the same time or the few knife swimpe in a pinch. I am more referring to the habit of cutting up all your steak or pork chop etc. into bite-sized pieces before shoveling it in (not everyone does but it does make your eating go at a faster pace).

                                I agree children and the elderly are the exception. Children need to be taught that once they are old enouogh to weild the knife however that the proper way to eat is not cutting up everything at once (I think this may be the step that was missed in the homes of my friends).

                                1. re: melpy

                                  I do agree, and only brought the salad up, as it might be where I fall down. Otherwise, it's a small cut, eat, small cut, etc.


                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                  I HATE salads in the U.S. that feature huge pieces of veggies in a small bowl. How is one supposed to eat this stuff? I cut and slash with great abandon when confronted with such a salad, and make no apologies.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    I agree, and feel your pain. At best, one ends up with a small mess of sliced and diced veggies. At worst, they end up with a big mess and never get to eat any, as the staff picks it up, before the first forkful.


                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      I agree entirely. How are you supposed to dress a salad properly if it comprises enormous wedges of leaves?

                                  2. re: pfarrell

                                    Cutting each bite of meat (or tearing each bit of bread) as you go is one of those silly rules that I invariably ignore. Particularly with the bread, as I often like butter on my bread, and spreading a bit of butter on each bite or slice at the beginning gives the butter more time to settle in (or melt, if the butter was refrigerated).

                                    1. re: racer x

                                      The rule for buttering your bread one bite at a time was/is intended for more formal occasions, and not family meals in the privacy of your home. The reason for not buttering an entire roll or slice of bread originated in a time when it was extremely gauche to clean your plate! It was just plain bad manners. In those times, buttering an entire roll or slice of bread greatly increased the risk of soiling linens or gloves of staff/waiters. In those times, formal occasions meant NO bread and butter plate, but did not omit bread and butter. Bread was offered by a servant or waiter, and then was placed directly on the table cloth in the place where a b&b plate would normally be. In those times, servants were common or hired for special dinners, and those who served food ALWAYS wore white cotton gloves. First off, it prevented fingerprints when handling dishes and silver while setting the table, then served the same purpose while serving the meal. Buttered bread left by diners risked staining table linens and gloves. Times are different now. But I do have an aging set of china that simply demands gloves if I don't want the Persian Red borders all smudged with fingerprints. Picnic anyone? Yay paper plates! '-)

                                    2. re: pfarrell

                                      Well, there is solid logic to the admonishment not to cut meat more than one bite at a time. It is simply to preserve its heat until you are ready for your next bite. When you cut an entire portion of meat into bite sized pieces all at once, the smaller pieces lose their heat much faster than the larger whole serving size. In addition to children probably not being able to cut their own food well, cutting it into bite sized pieces at the start of the meal keeps them from burning themselves. There is almost always sound logic behind these "Rules of Etiquette" we are taught as children.

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Ah, Caroline, you're just a fount of history! Now I know (or at least have heard a reasonable reason as to) what was up with those long-stemmed cigarette holders.

                                        As for the cutting of the meat, if a goal of preserving the meat's warmth was the origin of the rule, that's one rule that should just be a "suggestion." Especially for relatively fast eaters like me, who usually dispatch steaks and chops in just a few minutes (a sure sign of yahooism, no doubt).

                                    3. Had to ask "May I be excused?" before getting up from the table.

                                      35 Replies
                                      1. re: whs

                                        My sister and I had to be dressed appropriately and could never appear at the table in hairnets and rollers(yes my children at one time females spent hours with large cylindrical metal contraptions in their hair). We had to sit up straight in our chairs and not cross our legs or tap our feet.

                                        1. re: whs

                                          We didn't have to ask to be excused, but you did have to finish chewing and swallowing your last bite before wandering off.

                                          1. re: whs

                                            Wow. What a throwback. I also had to ask to be excused, and, more often than not, I was told "no" since everyone at the table was not finished eating (another rule). I actually had to train my husband that getting up from the table when others are still eating is bad manners. I always thought that my parents were uptight, but I thank them now....

                                            1. re: diablo

                                              I'm still working on this one. (Training the husband - so that it's consistent with what I'm trying to train the kids! Most of the other ill examples of manners he may use can go unnoticed - but not that one!)

                                              1. re: cackalackie

                                                Yes, same drives me insane when he gets up and I am still eating; makes me feel I need to rush to the next big my mind, eating (i.e., enjoying my dinner) after a hectic day of work is the next big thing. Not to mention that it is rude....(NB: And I am not a painfully slow eater either).

                                                1. re: jeni1002

                                                  OK, my dad eats twice as much and half as fast as I do. What should I do at the end of my meal if I were to follow this rule? (being Chinese we don't really care when we eat at home.)

                                                  1. re: Teep

                                                    I can't comment on your dinner dynamics, but for me, dinner (or any meal for that matter) is/should be a time window where you relax, connect with your family/SO, and catch up. Living in a culture that promotes eating on the run (think drive-thrus, soups to go, your check promptly arriving at your table as soon as you took the last bite, etc. etc.), having a meal together and not rushing to get yet another thing done takes on a new meaning. For me, it's connecting with the people that I am eating with, listening to their stories, creating a space that is relaxed and stress-free.

                                                    To answer your question, if I am done eating before others (and this does happen occasionally), I continue the conversation that presumably was taking place during the meal. But I won't get up until everyone has finished eating.

                                                    1. re: Teep

                                                      I second Jeni's suggestion. You conversate. That's one of the main purposes of dining together. It's about more than the act of eating the meal. Plus, it allows time for proper digestion, something most people allow little time for.

                                                      1. re: diablo

                                                        Again, cultural differences come into play here. Confucius has said "No words when eating, no talking when sleeping." So conversation is NOT "a main purposes of dining together", at least not for our family at home. (When going out, we would talk while waiting for the food or the bill, but those "gaps" don't exists at home.)

                                                        1. re: Teep

                                                          This has now sparked my curiosity - forgive my ignorance, but then what is acceptable in this context? Getting up and doing your dish?

                                                          I've always believed in context-sensitivity: being attuned to one's surroundings and adjusting behavior to meet the demands/idiosyncrasies of these surroundings. Following your argument, if talking is not something you do while dining, and this is acceptable in your context, why wouldn't the reverse be acceptable in others?

                                                          1. re: jeni1002

                                                            I did not say it's not acceptable in other context. My original question was what should *I* do if I were to follow this rule of not leaving the table until everyone is finished, and I'm only saying that "converse" is not one of *my* options. I usually get up and fiddle around in the kitchen (we eat in there) until my parents are done.

                                                          2. re: Teep

                                                            This is very important - I facilitate at international seminars, where part of the training is having the participants form cooking teams - this could be a subject in itself. I noticed that not only East Asians but also South-of-Saharan Africans don't converse while dining - unless they have spent some time in the West. Unlike Europeans, people from the Americas (North, Central and South) and several other groups.

                                                            1. re: lagatta

                                                              when i was in ukraine back in the early 90s, there was a group of us (americans) sharing a meal with a host group of ukrainians. we were laughing and having a good time and trying to converse with the host group when one of the ukrainians leaned over to me very quietly and said, "here in ukraine, we do not talk while we are eating. we wait 'til we are finished"

                                                              1. re: fudisgud

                                                                People in the Ukraine enjoy their meals quietly. It's a feast for all the senses -- undistracted. I prefer light conversation while dining. I despise loud tables!

                                                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                  I recall this memory while I was an exchange student in Ukraine & I actually enjoyed it. Food is a blessing to them, as it truly is.

                                                                  1. re: JayVaBeach

                                                                    i think that's lovely - i just wish someone had told it to us before we sat down to eat because we were so horribly embarrassed!

                                                                2. re: fudisgud

                                                                  Wow, I'm Ukrainian but I've never encountered that. Yes, when children sit down to eat their parents usually tell them to not talk with their mouths full, but it doesn't apply when you have guests over. In fact, we always had lively conversations at the table when people came over for dinner (which was often ;-)) Spontaneous singing was also quite the norm.

                                                              2. re: Teep

                                                                Gosh, I never even thought about that, Teep. I don't know then. If that's the case maybe leaving the table is a good idea.....

                                                            2. re: Teep

                                                              My guess is that you eat fast because you live fast. Probably a stressed lunch hour with other things to do besides eat. Busy breakfast, if you have time for one at all. Why not intentionally try to slow down at family meals and take time to savor your food. AND your dad! In today's world, it's one of life's greatest lusuries.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Also because my dad has fewer teeth than I do!

                                                              2. re: Teep

                                                                Whatever it is, do not sing! See earlier replies on what is likely to happen, should you do so. [Grin]


                                                          3. re: diablo

                                                            I too was required to ask to be excused from the table. I think this is a great rule for children. One my hubby was obviously not taught and it irks me to no end when he departs the table once he is finished eating. Especially since it is only the two of us. He can't seem to understand why it bothers me. If I'm going to take the time after I've worked all day to cook a meal, I want to sit and enjoy the meal and prefer not to do so by myself. It's very disrespectful IMO.

                                                            1. re: ebmalon

                                                              I'm guessing your hubby's a grown-up? Why not have one of those adult conversations? Seems like a fairly easy case to make.

                                                              1. re: ebmalon

                                                                I would have a problem being expected to ask to be excused from the table. On the other hand, to me, it's not polite to want to leave the table before everybody is finished eating, and more importantly, while there is conversation to be had.

                                                                1. re: ricepad

                                                                  While I agree in theory about "before everybody is finished eating," Mr Pine eats exceptionally slowly and I eat fast (he'd say exceptionally fast). Add to that the fact that he eats about twice as much as me, so it's a looooong time. I do excuse myself and putter nearby so we can still talk (well, usually), but it's excrutiating to sit and watch for another 20 minutes or more.

                                                                2. re: ebmalon

                                                                  Yes, that was part of the drill, though I cannot recall my father abiding by it. Heck, we felt fortunate that he dined with us, and was not out fishing, or at the 19th hole on the golf course.

                                                                  Even at my advanced age, I "excuse" myself, when leaving the table.

                                                                  Now, I am often blind-sided, when a young lady at our table, just pops up, and disappears. Normally, I will stand, or attempt to do so. Still, it seems that they come and go, and with great speed and often stealth.

                                                                  We do not need to know where they are going, but it IS nice, when they make a little announcement , that they ARE leaving, even if they plan to return.

                                                                  Just my observations,


                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    Those young ladies just aren't what they used to be, huh? '-)

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      Well, some are, but then some are not...


                                                                  2. re: ebmalon

                                                                    my ex did the same thing. i'd have him over for dinner. he'd scarf his food down, then would go lay or sit on my couch. i cried what the hell... and he gave me the lameass excuse he was tired. yeah, well, maybe i'm tired from cooking you a great meal. the least you could do is sit with me. i'm not eating my broccoli by the individual flower or floret.

                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                      emme, please remember to add "cooking strike" to your repertoire. ;-)).

                                                                3. re: whs

                                                                  We had to ask if we could leave the table but it didn't necessarily have to be phrased just like that. Sometimes we'd say "Can I get up?"

                                                                  1. re: PDeveaux

                                                                    Should I have phrased it thusly, the reply would likely have been, "of course you CAN, but until permission to be excused has been given, you MAY not."

                                                                    Semantics, yes, but I would have gotten the message.


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Semantics I wish more people would follow, Bill.

                                                                      We always got a similar answer if we asked "Hey Mom, can I do this/make that/call this person?" Her response was always "I don't know - can you?"

                                                                      Perhaps that's where the game "Mother, May I?" came into being. :-)

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        This rule bothers me, I teach Spanish and for teaching the to be able verb for so long and not teaching the to permit verb, I always default to "can I/can you" hmmmph!

                                                                  2. re: whs

                                                                    Me, too. We were generally allowed to be excused, because my dad is a painfully slow eater, and my mother couldn't justify making us all sit at the table for ages while he finished. Also, after all the kids had been excused, they got caught up on each other's day. But sometimes I see friends' children get up and just leave the table without asking, and I'm always shocked.

                                                                  3. I too was taught to eat with one hand on my lap -- generally the left. So imagine my surprise when I went to Paris as part of an informal student exchange my grandparents had arranged and the madame of the house firmly grasped my hand in my lap and placed it on the tabletop, at the edge. She told me that in France it was impolite to have one's hand on one's lap and that it belonged resting on the table at the fleshy part right below the wrist and definitely not at the elbow.

                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Fuser

                                                                      no talking with food in your mouth; using the fork correctly (i.e. not gripping it in a fist and "stabbing" food); using a knife to cut food rather than sawing at it with the side of your fork (still a pet peeve of mine) and definitely no elbows, as has been mentioned!

                                                                      I too lived for a time with a French family - the thing with keeping the other hand on the table just below the wrist was explained to me as a way (obviously historical!) of showing your fellow diners you weren't about to draw your sword or a knife at them from under the table...

                                                                      1. re: briedemeaux

                                                                        oh yeah. That reminds me of the first time I went out to eat with my husband. He grabbed his fork around the the handle in his fist. I looked at him and said, "No farmer's clutch on your fork." It immediately broke him of that habit. (And he married me anyway, go figure :-) We used the same admonition on the kids as they grew up and "no farmer's clutch" has become a family etiquette standby.
                                                                        I would say my No. 1 peeve is people eating with their mouths open. I find it absolutely disgusting and completely lose my appetite. It's everything I can do to just not flee the table.

                                                                        1. re: Fuser

                                                                          Fuser, so sorry you just missed the long ex-thread about that topic. Deemed too "chatty". Farmer's clutch makes me think of that American Gothic couple by Grant Wood -- at the table with the vittles!

                                                                          1. re: Fuser

                                                                            My sister grips her fork around the handle. It looks as if she's afraid her steak is going to run off the plate and she has to hold it down. She likes it rare, but not that rare. She also cuts it up in pieces before she eats. Drives me crazy, I can't believe we were raised by the same people.

                                                                            1. re: janeann11

                                                                              The other admonition for the kids was "no dog-bowling," referring to the habit of putting one's head about two inches from the bowl and slurping the food up that way.

                                                                              1. re: Fuser

                                                                                Dog-bowling!!! That's sooo funny! Those people usually have about 10 other bad manners too. God save me from dog-bowlers! That will be the new term in our house. Thanks for the laugh.

                                                                                1. re: Fuser

                                                                                  That is good, amusing and funny.

                                                                                  How about 'FHB' gently called out as we sit down.

                                                                                  'Family Hold Back'

                                                                                  Four hungry sons do need to be reminded when guests are present .

                                                                                  1. re: Naguere

                                                                                    Dog-bowling and FHB: I love how CH expands my vocabulary :)

                                                                              2. re: Fuser

                                                                                This is exactly what we were taught - apparently its considered lazy and rude to have you hand on your lap - both your arms and hands should be at attention with the fleshy part resting your arm to the table. We were taught no nose blowing at the table, no yawning, no saying I am stuffed, but satisfied, no hats, no books, NO LIP SLAPPING or eating with your mouth full. And to this day If I see anybody slapping lips I give them the death stare. No making sounds with your fork or knife on your plate - nor when you stir something - you had to avoid the sides in order to be silent. The worst was we had to eat everything and my mom grew up on a farm in chile and there were just things that my brothers and I wouldnt eat. My grandfather on my dad's side put nails on the table so that my dad and his siblings couldnt put their elbows up- because the worse thing was having our elbows on the table I guess. My dad is a softee we never had anything like that - but I am glad my parents were strict with us - there is no where I go now where I dont feel comfortable or dont know what do do. My husband grew up in Rural Illinois and his upbringing wasnt too different.

                                                                                1. re: Ljubitca

                                                                                  Haaa! So funny. "give them the death stare"... I love it! I totally do the same. And you reminded me of yet another rule... no scraping your teeth on your eating utensils. Again, to this day if someone is sliding their teeth on their fork I cringe!

                                                                                  "No Hats"... another good one!

                                                                                  1. re: Ljubitca

                                                                                    To add, no blowing on any food to cool it. Soup could be stirred, as you describe, to dissipate the heat, but no blowing. Closest that I come is smelling the food to make sure that I get all of the aromas. Smelling of any food was considered poor manners, in my youth. Still, I want to take in all aspects of the dish, from the sight, to the smell, to the taste. My mother would probably turn over in her grave, but I have good justification for this particular infraction.


                                                                                    1. re: Ljubitca

                                                                                      When my father was young at the dinner table and put his elbows on the table, my grandmother, his mother, lifted his arm and banged his elbow on the table. He never did that again and used that story to teach my brothers and me a manners lesson. I have used it with my kids and now with my grandkids.

                                                                                  2. re: briedemeaux

                                                                                    When I first saw this clip I gasped because I thought to myself ... 'How un-ladylike to grasp a fork that way'. To Jessica's credit she sat there and ate with some degree of elegance, but her fan [Holly] displayed that 'Farmer's clutch' grip that was very unbecoming.

                                                                                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                      Oh my gosh.
                                                                                      We didn't have strict rules at the table growing up. People often comment on my eating and how "polite" and lady like I am, but it's nothing I learned, mostly just common sense and perhaps things I picked up watching TV or something.

                                                                                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                        She was in the hospital, give her a break! (as annoyingly pointed out by rachel ray several times)

                                                                                      2. re: Fuser

                                                                                        That was my feeling exactly when corrected. After 40 years of having this ingrained, it has been tough to break. I still find my left hand slipping below the table. Old habits...