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Manners-dining out vs home. Are they different for you?

I started thinking about this when reading the "Restaurant rewards well-behaved children" thread. I keep reading and hearing about "restaurant manners" and wonder where this came from. Why are there different expectations when dining out?

I posted the following in that thread, which is how I am raising my child and how I was raised myself. My husband, from another area of the US was also raised the same.

<<I find the key is not to teach "restaurant manners" but manners overall. Why does the fact you are in public change how you should behave?

We have the same expectations at home as we do for eating at friends, a family/casual place or a high end place. Manners are manners.

There are some dining/social etiquettes that are different depending on where we are eating ie: which fork or spoon to use, where to place your napkin upon leaving the table, holding someones chair, etc but proper manners/being polite/being safe is SOP for our family.>>

Have we become a society where manners, being polite and being safe while dining only matter in public?

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  1. They are the same, for the most part. When it is just my husband and I, and upon mutual agreement, we sometimes Kindle at the table.
    But yes, it's usually conversation, no hats, stay at the table until everyone is finished, no belching/farting (well, we try, anyway), chew with one's mouth closed, please and thank-you.
    When our children were here, we ate at the table.
    Our children displayed the same manners at home or in a restaurant, they knew what was expected of them and complied. I don't recall any restaurant disasters or unruly behavior. If we were out with them and they were cranky or over tired, we didn't take them to a restaurant. We'd hit a drive through if going right home was not an option.

    6 Replies
      1. re: wyogal

        Kindle, you read a book? That reminds me of the time I was in a nice restaurant and a hubby and wife were on their cell phones for the entire lunch.

        1. re: James Cristinian

          at home, mutual consent, just the two of us, not often. I would never do that in a restaurant.

          1. re: James Cristinian

            I read books when eating alone, and often with my brother or my late father when having lunch. But then, we're a family of readers. Dinner is always for conversation, and normal table manners (don't lick the plate, don't eat the mashed potatoes with your hands, use your knife and fork, say please and thank you, don't reach across people, etc.) are the same at home or in a restaurant.
            NO cell phones, ever, though!

          2. re: wyogal

            Your post reminded me of an online friend and his wife who joined us at our vacation rental cottage one summer. I made lunch and we all, including our 13 y.o. sat down to eat. When my daughter asked to be excused, the wife got a look of total disbelief and confusion on her face and said "I cannot remember the last time I heard a child ask to be excused from the table!" Her husband said, "yeah. our boys don't even say excuse me when they fart at the table!."

          3. everyone has a night when takeout pizza on paper plates in front of a movie is the plan.

            Nobody eats at McDonald's with a knife and fork and a linen napkin.

            Being polite and safe is always a requirement, but different locations have different etiquette rules.

            10 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              Those examples are not manners

              If we choose to have a movie night in front of the TV I still expect that proper manners be displayed-no chewing with your mouth open, using a napkin, saying please, thank you, etc.

              At McDonalds I expect they will sit in their seats, not scream or yell, use a napkin, say please, thank you, clean up after themselves, not run around.

              I am teaching my child that:

              <<There are some dining/social etiquettes that are different depending on where we are eating ie: which fork or spoon to use, where to place your napkin upon leaving the table, holding someones chair, etc but proper manners/being polite/being safe is SOP for our family.>>

              1. re: foodieX2

                Each of those examples is a situation in which the rules of etiquette are vastly different from the other situations.

                Basic rules of eating like a human being are the please-thank you-not chewing with your mouth open.

                But..pizza night might be paper towels for napkins and eating pizza with your fingers.

                McDonald's is only somewhat more structured.

                So let's take it a little further.

                Let's go to Applebee's (shudder, but since most people are familiar with it, we'll use it). Knife and fork, napkin, please and thank you, ordering off the menu, tipping properly....

                ...but nowhere near the rules of etiquette necessary at a starred restaurant. (three forks, two spoons, two knives, and multiple glasses just don't happen at McDoodle. It's a different game with different rules)

                Different situations have different rules -- basic consideration of other people is a constant.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  We are saying the same thing. Etiquette is different than manners.

                  I have the same expectations of my children at IHOP or Babbo. At home or at the Queens. At movie night or Thanksgiving. At breakfast and at dinner. You don't get a pass on manners because you are at Crapplebees.

                  1. re: ritabwh

                    Actually in most fancy restaurants these days, rather than sit down to a table set with an elaborate assortment of cutlery, the waitstaff tends to bring the specific pieces for each course, serially, and only gives each customer the pieces intended for what he/she ordered. So, unless you think that it's appropriate to use the knife for eating peas, you are not that likely to select the wrong implement. But, there are challenges aplenty in banquet settings, where the place settings are laid in advance for all of the courses.

                    On "advanced" etiquette rules, how about finger bowls? I've seen situations where guests have mistaken them for a water glass and sipped from them!

                      1. re: masha

                        Ive seen a finger bowl sipped with a spoon when mistaken as soup....

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of one of the great hostesses in one of the great cities, who, when she saw a guest at her dinner table sip from his finger bowl, immediately sipped from her own, and soon the entire dining party was sipping from their finger bowls.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              And there's the one, when a guest broke a delicate tea cup, the hostess threw hers on the floor and broke it also, then said friends were more important than teacups.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                I heard that one, too, except it was a wineglass.

                  2. I don't have children yet, but in terms of actual behavioral manners, I don't think there should be any difference as to what kind you use, no matter where you are at. Sure, if it's just two adults who casually dine together at home, it's different, but once kids are in the mix you have to up the game a bit so they learn the right way.

                    1. Is it bad that I read the title to this post and immediately thought "uh, yea!" I eat most meals alone so perhaps that's why but there is much utensil licking, plate wiping with bread with the occasional finger swipe. However, if I'm hosting or people are eating with meal of course not, my manners are similar to a restaurant unless it's just me and SO and then it's more eating-alone style.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        but yet somehow I'm guessing that you are capable of impeccable table manners **when the situation requires it**.

                        In the meantime, put your feet up on the coffee table, rest that paper plate on your tummy, and enjoy your dinner. ;)

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Yup, when I need manners they are quite good I must admit, but at home my debutante coach would be appauled. I worked a pretty long night yesterday so had some lovely ankle swelling and dinner was eaten on the couch, feet elevated on 3 pillows on the table with bowl nicely tucked into the nice cradle space between, laptop on legs. It sounds complicated, but was quite comfortable.

                      2. Good God! Yes!

                        My OH (Other half) had a right go at me the other day as I licked the plate. As tempting as it is, I don't think I will be doing that in any restaurant. When I am eating something tasty, I want to make sure I get every last bit LOL

                        I remember as children, my sisters and I were being disgusting at the dinner table once. My Mum threatened us with not going on holiday unless we got rid of our bad manners and didn't let her down in public. Cue all three of us eating like pigs in an effort to "get rid of our bad manners".

                        I do tend to behave in restaurants - use the correct piece of cutlery and so on. However, I am a bit of a rebel and would love one day to eat somewhere really posh and tuck the napkin into my shirt collar and lick the plate.

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: PhilipS

                          Glad I'm not married to you! ;-)

                          Seriously, don't you find that to be disrespecful to your dining companion(s)?

                          1. re: sandylc

                            Sandy, I know someone who will use his fingers to extract every last bit of something he likes from his plate, where others might use a piece of bread. He has licked the plate clean, too. All of this in restaurants, mind you.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                Hope he washed his hands after using the loo

                                1. re: PhilipS

                                  Believe it or not, he's actually very particular about his personal cleanliness. At least two showers a day.

                            1. re: PhilipS

                              Ha! My mom always claimed because we needed good manners because "you never know when the queen will invite you to dinner". I was always puzzled as to why the queen might invite me anywhere since it didn't seem likely we'd become friends, but by the time I realized Mom was full of it, the manners part had become automatic. Now I get to relax and be a bit more lax around my husband. Not Mom, though. God forbid you cut a roll with a knife... she'll murder you.

                              1. re: Hobbert

                                <God forbid you cut a roll with a knife…she'll murder you.>>

                                With my mom is was buttering more than just your small bite of roll. LOL

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  Ugh that too! She had some roll issues. Perhaps a childhood roll trauma?

                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                    LMAO. Maybe someone tried to shut her up by stuffing one in her mouth.

                                    My mom definitely had issues with the etiquette of bread/roll eating and with soup manners. NO SLURPING! Bring the spoon to your mouth not your mouth to spoon! The spoon moves away from you!

                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                      Ha. Maybe we should start a group therapy session- Children of Manners Nazis.

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        I reinforced those soup rules, too, but not with much fanfare, just as a point of information. Well, except for wall shaking slurps, anyhoo.

                                2. re: PhilipS

                                  <My OH (Other half) had a right go at me the other day as I licked the plate. As tempting as it is, I don't think I will be doing that in any restaurant.>

                                  I remember eating a meal at a diner w/ my sis and she said to me "That was so good, I want to lick the plate!" I hope I told her to go ahead as she probably would have gotten a cheer from the wait staff - it was that kind of place (Ed Debevic's - old school diner). That's a serious compliment.

                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                    that's why they invented bread for heavens sake. and yes, check Ms. Manners, Emily Post, whatever. If you do it neatly, 'sopping up' gravy and sauce with your bread is completely acceptable.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      in restaurants in Europe, they'll tear off a small piece of bread and spear it with a fork -- then you can mop sauce with the bread neatly and subtly.

                                      In private homes, however, the bread is held in the fingers to get every last drop of sauce.

                                3. In terms of dining manners/etiquette, I like to hope that I'm the same companion whether I'm home or at a Michelin starred restaurant.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. Then again, I know a couple who's 8 year old son has atrocious table manners both at home and in public. If I had displayed any of these bad manners at home, I wouldn't have eaten that meal. These days, the older folks in the group who know better just smile indulgantly. As a non-parent, it drives me crazy, but also as a non-parent, it's not my place to say anything. I just try not to see chewed food, etc.

                                    1. There is a subtopic here that will probably draw some ire. My husband was not taught table manners growing up. He was willing to learn them from me when we were dating, as he is a smart guy and realized he needed to know these things.

                                      Fast forward 25+ years, and manners still are not a natural thing for him - it's more of a PITA "I have to remember all of these rules" thing for him; he also considers restaurant manners to be different than home manners, and is thus nervous about "making mistakes" when eating out. This is frustrating for both of us.

                                      Parents are irresponsible if they do not teach manners from day one. Not to do so is crippling their child for life.

                                      57 Replies
                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        Do you consider your husband "crippled for life"? I agree, the basics are a good thing- close your mouth to chew, no bodily noises, that sort of thing but I can't bring myself to care if someone puts their elbows on the table or uses their fingers to snag a tasty morsel. It's interesting to see what others consider basic good manners.

                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                          He brought up the point at the restaurant that he feels nervous when eating out. He should be able to relax and enjoy the experience, not be worried about where to put his used knife and how to hold his fork.

                                          This despite the fact that we have been eating together in very nice restaurants for 30 years. He knows good manners, but they don't come automatically and it reduces his enjoyment of eating out.

                                          He's not sure about the concept of the same manners at home as eating out - I just asked him.

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            That makes sense. I feel the same way on the rare occasion i have the good fortune to eat at fine dining restaurants. I enjoy myself but with the specter of "oh crap, is this the right fork?" looming in my head. I have to say then, I agree with you. Basic manners are a skill just as doing laundry, cooking, etc. I just don't like people getting into a tizzy about elbows on the table type stuff. Stifling. (Not you specifically, just in general.)

                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                              I don't understand the elbows thing, either.

                                              There is good sense behind things such as which untensil to use. It doesn't take much to learn it. It just makes things go in a more organized fashion for everyone. Have you ever been at a table for a meal and the person to your left used your bread plate rather than their own? It messes everything up. The people on either side of you are usiing both bread plates on either side of you and you are screwed - no bread plate for you! Therefore, everyone should learn which bread plate is always theirs, and this isn't difficult to learn at all!

                                              Things like chewing without displaying the contents of one's mouth are just obvious and shouldn't require instruction.

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                Yep, the bread plate stealing is annoying. I avoid bread plate functions as much as possible. Unless someone else is paying. Then I just do what they do :)

                                                1. re: Hobbert

                                                  I was taught a way to remember which is your bread plate that you will never forget, and that you can teach to everyone else at the table so that they will never forget.

                                                  Hold both your hands out in front of you, palms down. Curl the tip of your pointer finger down to hit the tip of your thumb. Miraculously, your hands will be making a "b" (left hand) and a "d" (right hand). Bread is on the left, drink is on the right.

                                                  I learned this from someone 20 years younger than me. He was wise.

                                                    1. re: 512window

                                                      For an adult who is unclear on these rules, this may be a good mnemonic technique. I learned these rules as a child, as did my son, because we always sat down to a properly set table with glasses to the right, just above the dinner knife, and auxiliary plates (typically for salad) to the left. And, soon as we were old enough were in charge of setting the table, so it became second nature -- sort of like the difference between learning a first language, which one speaks instinctively, and a second language where one has to memorize the rules for conjugating irregular verbs, etc.

                                                      Which brings me back to the OP's question: while certain rules of etiquette depend on context (e.,g., when is fried chicken finger food), the more one integrates basic table manners into a child's everyday upbringing, the fewer "rules" he or she will need to remember as an adult. For us, that meant napkins (paper for everyday) were always on the lap, no one starts eating until everyone has sat down, the table was always set properly, please and thank you were of course part of the vocabulary (as they were everywhere in our home), etc.

                                                      1. re: masha

                                                        I was taught that fried chicken on the bone is always a finger food, and therefore should never be served (or ordered) in a setting where eating with fingers is not OK.

                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    I would ask the person that used my bread plate to please pass me theirs.

                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                      I disagree. I spent years around children and have my own. Kids start learning to chew and eat with their mouths open. Its is not inherent that we eat with our mouths closed.

                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                        Not necessarily. If they can breathe adequately through their nose, then, as I recall from feeding my 3, they are not chewing with their mouths open.
                                                        I had a different experience than yours.

                                                        1. re: wyogal

                                                          which makes the world a wonderful place!

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            True. I don't recall that situation with mine, either.

                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                              As a kid I was always told off for eating with my mouth open. No-one thought to check whether I could breathe through my nose - I couldn't. It wasn't until I was 25 that I realised I needed surgery - I had just assumed I was always congested.

                                                              1. re: Peg

                                                                Yes, a sure indicator! Glad you got it figured out! I had sinus surgery a few years ago, and discovered I had a deviated septum. They fixed that on their way out. Also got a bit of a nose job done while at it, too!

                                                                1. re: Peg

                                                                  related, but OT:
                                                                  when my kid was 3 or 4, it seemed like "sometimes" she'd listen to me and "sometimes" not.
                                                                  when i had her checked out at the pediatrician, the dr. said that because of chronic ear infections her hearing was impaired, this meant that sometimes she could make out my words and sometimes it probably sounded to her like i was talking underwater.

                                                                  after she had ear surgery, the situation was completely remedied. also, her rate of language development took off.

                                                                  i'm so glad that i did not take the advice of other parents who advised me to treat it like an obedience problem.

                                                              2. re: foodieX2

                                                                I didn't say they are born knowing it - I said that people can figure it out on their own through socialization, as opposed to needing actual instruction on which fork to use.

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  My mother always told me to watch the host or my dining companions if I ever found myself in a position on not knowing what to do when I moved overseas by myself as a teen. While actual instruction is a plus (I often set a formal table for holidays, parties, etc so my son can practice in real terms) I think you can learn just by observing. Will it take longer and risk embarrassment? Sure. Of course this approach assumes that you are aware enough about social mores in general.

                                                              3. re: sandylc

                                                                The bread plate makes me laugh! At the ballpark, there are cup holders fixed to the back of the row in front of you and not everyone is aware of the "to your right" rule for glasses (or I guess in this case, vessels). I tend to go all timid mouse in crowd situations, and just hang on to my beer like we did in the olden days.

                                                                1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                  God I hate those sports park cup holders. They are always sticky and I question how often they are cleaned. And without fail someone knocks one over when trying to get by or drags their winter coat or scarf thru a beer.

                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                    Not to mention the pony tail on the fan in front of you!

                                                          2. re: Hobbert

                                                            I'd completely forgotten the "no elbows on the table" rule - it's just so second nature and I can't remember the last time I even saw that. Chewing with your mouth closed is something that even some adults need to learn, though.

                                                            1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                              I think the "no-elbows" rule was begun in the 60s-70s to prevent the "dangle and shovel" method of refueling used by teenagers of that era.

                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                Maybe the 1660's or 1670's...... it predates 1960's or "70s.

                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                  That sounds interesting....do tell...

                                                                  I know it was the big thing that was emphasized during discussions about manners in that era!

                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                    I just googled it... one response was that in the middle ages, people needed to prove that they were healthy, being able to sit up without assistance. Another idea was that in those days, people were seated closely together and elbow on the table would land in someone else's food.
                                                                    Another source says in 1530, a Frenchman wrote that elbows/arms should be at one's side.
                                                                    Some also say that it was "low brow," in that one should not give the appearance of being like a peasant, hungry.
                                                                    But then, other sources say that Queen Victoria put her elbows on the table.

                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                      Humans are fascinating, aren't we?

                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                        Yes, and culinary history is especially fascinating! In the middle ages, it was popular to dress cooked fowl with feathers and such to make it look as lifelike as possible, and served with blood red sauces to mimic, well, blood.

                                                              2. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                We had a chant: "Daddy, Daddy, if you're able, get your elbows off the table!"

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  Ours was:

                                                                  Susie Susie , sweet and able
                                                                  Get your elbows off the table!
                                                                  If you do it anymore
                                                                  We will throw you out the door!

                                                            2. re: sandylc

                                                              There is a whole spectrum in play here, though, too. I consider myself decently versed in table manners since childhood and am 100% comfortable in the finest of fine dining circumstances without much thought. If anything, I am the one who notices "issues". But yet as an adult I was once out to eat with a BF (at a sports bar kind of place) who absolutely FREAKED OUT that I was partaking of the occasional discreet finger lick while eating BBQ ribs. He was embarrassed, shocked and pissed. Wow. That such a thing would be an affront to manners was not even part of my consciousness at that point, so I was equally shocked. Obviously he had been raised with table manners that absolutely excluded such things. OTOH, he was way more out of his element in a fine dining situation than I.

                                                              1. re: splatgirl

                                                                but you were eating the ribs with your fingers, right?


                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  yes, which I guess means ordering ribs was my first offense. Or are there people for whom finger foods don't exist?

                                                                  Wait...I can answer that. I have a friend who was raised with the kind of table "manners" that led her to eat even potato chips with a knife and fork. From what I understand, she'd still be doing that if not for her husband insisting she needed to chill a little.

                                                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                                                    there was a barbecue place in London that struggled because a lot of the clients insisted on trying to eat ribs with a knife and fork.

                                                                    Sounds like the Seinfeld episode where they were eating candy bars with a knife and fork!

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Yea, this friend is European. I have never encountered that kind of extreme otherwise. FWIW, she also grew up in an upper class --housekeepers, plural, cooks, plural, and nannies, also plural, kind of home--which I have also never encountered otherwise :)

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Struggled because customers ate their ribs with a knife and fork? I always eat my ribs with a knife and fork. It's way easier than eating them by hand. Admittedly, I am the daughter of European immigrants who also eats her pizza with a knife and fork, but, still. It's not like it's hard to eat ribs with your flatware instead of by hand.

                                                                        1. re: wapfcat

                                                                          it's also not like it's rude to eat ribs with your fingers in a barbecue joint.

                                                                          IIRC, the restaurant started telling people that it's okay to eat ribs with your fingers.

                                                                          It wasn't very long ago that people ate cheeseburgers (burger, cheese, bun) with a knife and fork in the UK.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            I recall that, when McD came to the UK, a couple of friends went and were horrified that there was no cutlery. We'd previously visited America and knew that there wouldnt be.

                                                                            That said, I would never order a really big burger in a takeaway place, as it just doesnt feel right to be eating such a thing without knife & fork.

                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                              I remember being close to mortified when my UK customer proudly took me to a TGI Friday (it's American!) and I *almost* picked up my burger with my hands before twigging on that everyone else at the table had cutlery.

                                                                              Eating a burger with a knife and fork is as bizarre to Americans as eating it with your hands to you.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Yes, indeed, in a "proper" restaurant, most folk would use cutlery to eat a burger. Or a pizza

                                                                                By the by, what do the French do?

                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                  Can't speak to all French, but I know in my family of Belgians it's knives and forks (if one were even to order pizza or burgers, which I've yet to see-- it just occurred to me that there's never really been a good enough place to warrant a visit). Still, it certainly was the case with a relative who struggled at the Ethiopian place, where he couldn't eat with his hands, no matter how acceptable in that setting.

                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                    My mother is like this in regards to Ethiopian food - she'll eat sandwiches or pizza with her hands, but something about eating an Ethiopian meal only with her hands earns it the ultimate veto. In my mom's case I really don't think it's a "manners" thing, but rather a personal comfort issue.

                                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                                      Must admit, it freaked me out having to be "hands on" at the Ethiopian restaurant, even though I knew beforehand that's how it would be.

                                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                                        i remember watching a tv show in japan back in the late 1960s, where they showed how to eat a banana on a plate, using a knife and fork.

                                                                                      2. re: Harters

                                                                                        Burgers are hands-on. Pizza at a sit-down place is frequently knife and fork, but only because the crust is so paper-thin that it's almost impossible to eat any other way.

                                                                                        Buying a slice of pizza for takeaway is fingers.

                                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    In central Texas you pretty much have no choice but use your fingers. The food is served on butcher paper with bread and crackers,a plastic knife, maybe sauce or not, no plates, with sides. It's all about beef brisket, pork ribs and coarsely ground sausage.


                                                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                      I can see having to make do with only a plastic knife for the meat, but no fork or spoon for the sides?

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not:-) The reason I asked is because if the sides come with a fork then there's no reason to have to eat with your fingers like he said. Ribs are one thing. Slices of brisket and hunks of sausage are something else entirely. For me anyways.

                                                                                          1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                            wow - that's a lot of thought to put into something that was just an answer.

                                                                                        2. re: miss_belle

                                                                                          I don't know how people eat the sides, because I don't eat them, except maybe a piece of cheese. My guess is people use the knife to guide the food onto the copious amounts of white bread and crackers offered with the meal. Some places do break down and offer a fork

                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                            Canadian TV show: Red Green. When asked to list the main food groups, they say, "Meat and salt."

                                                                                  3. re: splatgirl

                                                                                    I'm pretty sure that even old etiquette tomes addressed the use of fingers for bacon and maybe even asparagus spears as perfectly acceptable. But I admit that finger licking at a meal kind of bugs me, I don't enjoy witnessing it.

                                                                            2. I'm afraid we hardly ever tip the server at home. And yet we always get seated at the chef's table, right in the kitchen! Go figure.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. My mother's adage was "Eat at home like you would eat at the king's palace -- the you can eat at the king's palace as you would at home".

                                                                                1. This thread will eventually beg the question, "Why do manners even exist?"

                                                                                  I think the answer must be something like this: To show respect for the food and for your fellow diners.

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                    +1 on that. My fellow diner is almost invariably my companion in life. I show respect at the dinner table, the restaurant table and everywhere else.

                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                        With all this being said - can someone please help me to teach my DH to quit dragging his teeth along the tines of his fork?

                                                                                        I swear, I'll be eating rightby him, I'll do what he's doing-just to show how irritating, bad mannered, & how it's making my skin crawl. But no, hasn't worked for years. Oh, he'll get the hint for about 5 minutes, then it's back to dragging. Ugh.

                                                                                        Other than having myself committed, any ideas? lol!

                                                                                        1. re: chloebell

                                                                                          Sounds like a habit he can't break. That would drive me crazy too.

                                                                                          1. re: chloebell

                                                                                            It sounds like you should just check yourself in for a soma holiday, and check him into Diner's Rehab. :-)

                                                                                            1. re: chloebell

                                                                                              start taking valium before every joint meal.
                                                                                              better living through chemistry

                                                                                        2. re: sandylc

                                                                                          Because there is pleasure in the art of ceremony.

                                                                                          Missing this is why I hate screw top wines, regardless of their deliciousness or convenience.

                                                                                        3. The only difference I can think of is while dining away from home(no matter where) I've always placed my napkin on my lap. But at home I never ever do. Not sure why..

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                            Oh, I've always hated the napkin on the lap bit. Not that I fidget but I like to move around a bit as I eat at home. Sometimes I like to cross my legs or shift them to one side on the seat and the napkin just gets in the way. Maybe that's why it's considered good manners to place a napkin on the lap -- to prevent shifting around in chair.

                                                                                            But at restaurants I generally put a napkin on my lap as soon as I'm seated unless it's a very casual place where they have tiny paper ones. I've seen people put it on their laps but I don't really understand it at that point. It just falls off from the slightest movement.

                                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                              I hate the napkin in the lap, it does little good there. I would much prefer to tuck it into my collar like a bib but am bound by convention not to do so in public.

                                                                                            2. re: miss_belle

                                                                                              I much prefer to tuck a napkin under the edge of the plate facing me. That way I can wipe my fingers and it catches drips. In a nice place I'll behave and put it in my lap.

                                                                                            3. I am single. When left to my own devices I am a drunk, slovenly degenerate. I will eat food with my hands. Morsels that migrate to the table or floor are still perfectly edible. Ill squirt hot sauce over nearly everything. My fingers get licked clean. Napkins are only required if my hands become so dirty/slick that I can't pick up my beverage. Dirty plates and empty beverage containers pile up and may not be tended to until the next day.

                                                                                              Around my family and a few close friends I am only marginally better: simply a drunk degenerate. Food that falls to the table or floor does not get consumed, and dishes regularly get cleaned and put away. I use the proper utensils, a napkin and lick my fingers subtly.

                                                                                              Dining out or as a guest at someone else's house I am merely drunk, and I always practice the rules of etiquette appropriate to the situation. There's nothing wrong with using my hands at the local pizza parlor, but I've always used exemplary etiquette when dining at Alinea, Per Se, EMP and the like.

                                                                                              Attire is a part of etiquette, IMHO. I have no problem wearing pajamas and eating on the coffee table at home. Jeans and a polo are acceptable for family meals and most casual restaurants. Slacks and a button down or nice sweater are required for most hosted events and restaurants just below "fine-dining." Fine-dining requires a jacket.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                  Single? I thought you had 4 girlfriends?

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                    Truth. But I'm always looking for a 5th. As far as I'm concerned, I'm single probably until my union is certified by a priest, but I probably would stop saying I'm single once I have a ring on my finger. The ring is kind of a give away that you aren't really single.

                                                                                                  2. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                    for once MonMauler and I are in complete agreement.

                                                                                                    1. It`s sad but many families do not eat together and that does not help to build on social skills. We ate together in a tiny kitchen, around a crowded table and we needed our manners when we were kids. It was always nice to get positive feedback from our family friends that my son was behaving himself at their house as a guest, that's when you know the effort was worth it.

                                                                                                      1. It`s sad but many families do not eat together and that does not help to build on social skills. We ate together in a tiny kitchen, around a crowded table and we needed our manners when we were kids. It was always nice to get positive feedback from our family friends that my son was behaving himself at their house as a guest, that's when you know the effort was worth it.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                          Its also more difficult when we give our kids 20 minutes to snarf their lunch with plastic utensils in a school cafeteria.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            Agreed, kids are on a tight schedule these days.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                              I agree. I am thankful that my sons lunch time at his school is what they call "family style". Assigned seating, one to two adults per table, platters of food. Proper manners required but its still casual. Even so time is limited.

                                                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              Yes, agree. While there are some interesting conversations (according to my sons), manners are pretty much absent. At the high school, 4 lunch periods per day, 20 minutes each, including time you spend in line buying lunch (my son brings lunch from home to get the extra 6-8 minutes).

                                                                                                          2. My late Filipino father in law and his old ancient Filipino "cronies" would all take their plates ( at our outdoor parties/receptions/pig roasts) of rice and food and in a group together crouch/hunch down on the ground and eat their food...with chopsticks...their fingers and lots of whiskey.They smacked their lips slurped and talked loud laughed and had a lot of fun.You could have knocked me over with a feather the first time I saw him do that.This was my ram rod straight posture.... proud as a peacock.... dapper... handsome ....well dressed old school father in law whom I was used to expecting me to dress myself and my two kiddies up so he could take us to his favorite Basque restaurant.....steak house etc. for lunches and dinners.The kids were expected to act like polite adults in there with him (so was I ).So to summarize there were no manners when "the old homeboys" were all squatting around and cutting loose. But the rest of us
                                                                                                            (especially the younger Filipino males) respected them and their traditions everytime they did it.

                                                                                                            1. For me, not so much. For my sons, teens, yes. They're ok at home and we dine together most nights. But they're better in restaurants or when dining at friends' homes.

                                                                                                              1. In general, I agree with a lot of people - however, where "restaurant manners" come into play most (I find) is that at least in my family we could be called to the dinner table when food was ready (or to set the table/other active chores). And then after eating, my parents were fairly lax about being able to leave the table.

                                                                                                                Where this greatly differs in a restaurant is the request of asking a child to sit at a table perhaps for a far longer period of time than usual. Because the nature of sitting prior to receiving the menu, after ordering, eating, sitting while everyone else finishes their meal (not even to mention the possibility of courses), waiting to pay the check, and then leave can make a number of children at different times restless which displays itself in a variety of "adult unfriendly" ways.

                                                                                                                I don't know anyone growing up who had a period of time of sitting at the dinner table and talking prior to food being served.

                                                                                                                1. I often remind my children to use their "good restaurant manners" or "good shabbat manners", which really are the same manners they are expected to use at home, all of the time - just a reminder that they are especially necessary at the present location and any slips that would be allowed to pass at a home or on a regular day with a reminder will not be allowed to slide in this case.

                                                                                                                  Just for reference, they are 3 and 5 years old (the 3 month old has attrocious manners at this point, but he doesn't eat at the table.)

                                                                                                                  1. We expected good manners no matter what, but there must have been differences, because I remember using the "restaurant manners" reminder phrase when she was little.

                                                                                                                    That might have meant that she, too, was expected to have her napkin on her lap at all times, or to keep her voice modulated even if the room were noisy, unlike home. So yes, there are some differences, but that in no way suggests that manners are only for public places.

                                                                                                                    1. I wasn't taught good manners as a kid. My dad only cared that we didn't interrupt him, and my mom grew up with six siblings, so she couldn't really bring herself to get worked up about manners.

                                                                                                                      I finally learned manners in college by eating out with my friends, as they all had rather good manners. That said, it's hard to learn exactly what to do in a restaurant from eating only at home, as my meals at home (or in a dorm) have always been family or buffet style.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: celesul

                                                                                                                        I strongly suggest that you either do an internet search or get a book. Manners are one of those things that no one notices when they are good, but EVERYONE notices when they are bad. Good manners are a necessary life skill.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                          I learned table manners from example. The thought that I would ever disappoint/disrespect my mother by acting like an idiot at the table or anywhere else never occurred to me.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                            Yeah, I think that was my mother's main goal - for us not to embarrass her - maternal instincts were/are not her strong suit.

                                                                                                                      2. As I read this, I'm taking up bits of left over bbq sauce off my plate with my finger, and eating them. Nobody else is home.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                          Well then, why are you using your finger? Just pick it up and LICK!

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                            The finger provides smaller quantities, which is how I like it. When I was a kid and my mom wasn't looking, I would do the same thing w/ the leftover bbq sauce in the little containers from McDonald's. I guess that goes to show that kids will do whatever they want when their parents aren't looking :)

                                                                                                                        2. I don't know whether this is still current but in the Argentina of my girlhood fresh fruit served at the table was eaten with a knife and fork. The peach or orange or pear was held to the plate with a fork and peeled with a knife held in the other hand. NOTHING served on dishes at a table was eaten with the hands except for bread and when we were served the midday meal at school this rule was taught, learned, and enforced. Certainly not a piece of meat such as chicken, lamb chops, or spare ribs. A dinner table is not a picnic.

                                                                                                                          1. Politeness does not change when we are eating at home.

                                                                                                                            But having no kids, there are some things we don't see as necessary when eating at home:

                                                                                                                            -not necessary to eat at the dining table, we usually only do that when eating a multi-course meal that took some care to prepare
                                                                                                                            -not even necessary to set up individual plates and serve from serving bowl. (often we would make a noodle soup and take the pot to living room and eat straight from the pot)
                                                                                                                            -not necessary to observe certain "proper" use of utensils which we view as formalities. We use hands much more freely. And I will lick sauce off my knife if I feel like it.

                                                                                                                            So I think politeness and formality maybe have some significant difference. Politeness is essential but formality not as much.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply