Traditional Dining Etiquette is Dead

In Dining Etiquette, featured, Social Etiquette by system review

Traditional dining etiquette is dead, according to Alice Zaslavsky in the SMH so here she says what to do (or not) instead.

Photo: ILLUSTRATION: DREW AITKEN

So here according to Alice Zaslavsky are the new do’s and don’ts of dining:

  • Do aim to arrive on time. If you’re running late, let your dining companions know. 
  • Don’t worry so much if your companions are tardy. I say this as someone who is always late but worth the wait. I like to think that lateness is a sign of optimism, not rudeness. 
  • Do send a photo or PDF of the menu to stragglers while you wait, so they can percolate while running late. 
  • Do treat waitstaff courteously. They’re your hosts for the evening, and you’re in their house. 
  • Do leave bags and jackets on a chair or under the table – not on the table. 
  • Do consider leaving your phone in said bag or jacket, too. If you’re afflicted with nomophobia (that’s a fear of being without your phone!) leave it screen-down, and on airplane mode. That way, you can take pictures if you’re that way inclined, then pop it away again. 
  • Do discuss splitting the bill at the top of the meal to make the end more streamlined. Old-school etiquette dictates that whoever initiates the meal pays the bill, but that is far less common nowadays. 
  • Do tip, if you can afford it. 10 per cent is standard, 15 per cent is generous. 
  • Do use your cutlery from outside in – but don’t have a cow if someone else doesn’t. 
  • Do fill up others’ water glasses when you fill your own. 
  • Do feel free to keep your cutlery and plates if you’d prefer to keep mopping up bits and bobs. 
  • Don’t season a dish before you’ve tasted it
  • Don’t start eating cold dishes until everyone has theirs – but hot dishes can be hoed into as soon as they drop. 
  • Don’t dig your cutlery into communal plates – unless it’s family. 
  • Don’t reach over your companions to grab something. Ask the person closest to it to pass it – unless it’s family! 
  • Don’t let the dregs stay on a share plate because you’re worried you’ve taken too much. Offer it to your companions first, then declare it your own. 
  • Do try to avoid elbows on the table, but don’t let it take up too much of your bandwidth. This rule is now more about functional digestion – because sitting like that makes you slouch, and kinks your kishkes. 
  • Do eat with your hands when the opportunity arises. Most cultures prefer the right hand as the moppy hand. I must say, there’s nothing more pleasurable to me than retrieving salad leaf by leaf with my fingers – just be sure to pop it onto your plate from the communal one first. 
  • And finally, dolighten up, in general. Dining should be a place of comfort and frivolity, not one-upmanship and status-signalling. I’m reminded of when the late Queen Elizabeth II chose to hug then-first lady Michelle Obama back, rather than recoiling from a touch that was “not protocol”. In doing so, she exhibited more class and grace than if she’d stuck to the done thing. Yas Kween.