TableSmarts: Mastering modern table manners

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Ever wondered what the reasoning is behind why we’re discouraged to put our elbows on the table? Or where all the cutlery is suppose to go and what each piece is actually meant for? If these questions have been plaguing you for sometime, perhaps you should consider taking part in a dining etiquette course.

Vancity Buzz was invited to participate in the TableSmarts Everyday Dining for Adults to polish our table manners and familiarize ourselves with the dos and don’ts of dining.

Led by Sunita Padda, the TableSmarts Everyday Dining for Adults course runs through the ABC’s of table manners. Topics include, how to approach and exit the table in a polite fashion, placing an order with the waiter, navigating place settings, napkin-uses, rules for eating bread and soup, correct handling of utensils, passing food at the table, appropriate behaviour at the table, and dealing with unwanted food.

Those who are intrigued by these “rules” of dining but are a little apprehensive about succumbing themselves to a course, have nothing to fear. The two-hour class is composed of friendly instruction (nothing like those stiff, whip cracking finishing schools you often see portrayed in films), group discussions, and hands-on practice during a three-course lunch at Vancouver’s Terminal City Club.

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In addition to practical guidance Padda, who is a B.C. certified educator and trained in dining etiquette by Patricia Napier-Fitzgerald of The Etiquette School of New York, and by Tamiko Zablith in The Art of The Table at the world renowned Minding Manners School in London, drops in some fascinating tidbits of dining history throughout the course.

Padda’s class is great for anyone who wants to present a more polished self at a business lunch with clients per se or those who simply wish to attain a better grasp of dining etiquette. There’s also a Fine Dining course for adults and an Everyday Dining course for kids too.

We asked Padda if she could jot down her top five dining rules we should all be following. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. Place your napkin on your lap before you take your first sip of water, as it signals the beginning of your meal.
  2. When someone asks for the salt or pepper – consider the two “married” and always pass them together. This way they stay together and people don’t have to ask for the salt and pepper individually when they need both.
  3.  It is courteous to keep your mouth closed during chewing and to avoid making noises such as slurping.
  4.  Never stretch across the table for a dish or condiment, for example. Politely ask for someone to pass it to you.
  5.  Do not blow on your soup to cool it down. In our Everyday Dining classes, we practice the “edge” technique where you learn to enjoy your soup without looking rushed or eager.

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Jess Fleming Jess is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Originally from Sydney, she obsesses over where to eat and drink and writes about adventures near and far.
@Jesstours

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