Food

Dinner Etiquette

Dinner Etiquette

Dinner Etiquette

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!), so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting a popular post from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on April 11, 2012…

I’ve always been fascinated by etiquette, including which fork to use and where to put your napkin when you leave the table. Of course, it doesn’t really matter, but it can make you feel more confident. So, here’s a handy guide to eating dinner, illustrated by the fantastic Gemma Correll

If you’re a guest at a dinner party (pictured above), wait to start eating until the host takes his or her first bite (unless they absolutely insist that you start).

Dinner Etiquette

A funny tip that my grandparents used to tell us: The way to sit in your chair is to pretend a cat is in front of you, a mouse is behind.

Dinner Etiquette

Your wine and water glasses are to the RIGHT of your plate. Your bread plate is to the LEFT of your plate. If you remember that, you’ll never drink someone’s water or eat their bread again! (A genius tip from readers: To remember the order of the place setting, think “BMW” — for bread, then meal, then water.)

Dinner Etiquette

Surprisingly, salt and pepper should be passed together, even if someone asks only for one. They’re considered “married!”

Dinner Etiquette

Never intercept a pass. For example, don’t snag a roll out of the bread basket when it’s on the way to someone else. (You’ll just have to ask them to pass the basket right back!)

Dinner EtiquetteDinner Etiquette

Always taste your food before putting on salt and pepper. It’s considered rude to assume the food is under-seasoned before tasting it.

Dinner Etiquette

Once you’ve picked up a utensil, it should never touch the table again. You want your utensils to rest fully on the edge of your plate. (“No oars!” gasp the experts.)

Dinner Etiquette

When you are finished with your meal, your knife and fork should be placed on your plate diagonally from upper left to lower right (11 to 5 if you imagine your plate as a clock face). This is a secret code to the waiter (or host) that you’re finished.

Dinner Etiquette

If you go to the restroom — or if you’re getting up at the end of the meal — just put your napkin to the left of your plate, loosely folded.

Yay, that’s it! Bon appetit!

P.S. And 8 etiquette tips for drinking wine

(Illustrations by the amazing Gemma Correll for Cup of Jo)

  1. Abigail says...

    As a career server, I just want to note that the elbows off the table rule is about the person serving you. While you are enjoying the food and the company, do whatever you want with your elbows. But when someone is attempting to serve your food to you or remove a dirty plate, it’s best to remove those elbows just for an instant so that the server can quickly do their job without being a distraction or causing a mess.

  2. cb says...

    Would love to see an updated version of this post with information about meal etiquette in different cultures!! I find it totally fascinating the different traditions that have evolved around sharing food together.

  3. Rebecca Raith says...

    Hi everyone,
    It’s nice to observe manners at the table and usua!ly it’s OK if yours aren’t perfect. But to me, the top violation is blowing your nose at the table. I see this a lot and can’t believe it….

  4. Chrissy says...

    I am a first generation American and was not aware of the 11-to-5 o’clock knife-and-fork rule until I saw this cartoon. It was fortunate timing because last night I attended a fancy work dinner. I noticed everyone abided by this rule! I’ve attended many work-related fancy meals, and I felt kind of embarrassed for all the times I didn’t follow this unspoken custom. Who knows what else I’m currently doing wrong! (White people! That’s who! Haha)

    • kim says...

      Hahaha! Not necessarily….I’m a white people and I didn’t know this rule, either! :D I’m looking forward to scrolling the comments to see what else is incorrect.

  5. Alli says...

    I was taught that if you’re getting up to go to the restroom but coming back, the napkin should be folded and placed on your chair. Folding the napkin and leaving it on the table signals you are done and not coming back.

    • e says...

      me too!

    • e says...

      I was taught this as well!

    • Erin says...

      Same! Plus who wants to look at a dirty napkin, no matter how nicely it’s folded? If I put a used napkin on the table, how is that different than using the tablecloth to wipe my mouth? It also drives me crazy when people put their napkin on the table when finished eating but still lingering at the table. It stays in your lap the WHOLE time you’re at the table!

  6. Margaret says...

    One of my pet peeves is when the first person served at a restaurant begins eating before everyone else is served. It’s no coincidence that I don’t return to restaurants that can not manage to serve everyone at a table within a narrow timespan.

  7. Meghan says...

    I am completely fascinated with the reaction to this article; I’m taken aback at how I can’t stop thinking about the comments, specifically the critiques. First off, I am so appreciative of the different perspectives on this seemingly light-hearted topic. Joy, thank you so much for your comment about growing up in foster care. It was a sobering, but important, idea to reflect on.

    My personal takeaway is that this is a perfect example of how privilege works. For those who are privileged (racial, economic, class, etc.) things like proper table manners are a given. Yes, there might be some refinement here and there and we can discuss exactly how the silverware should be ordered and precisely which side the bread should go on, but at the end of the day it’s not such a big deal, right?

    If you aren’t part of that privileged group, those rules serve to further entrench your feeling of otherness, of inferiority. You aren’t part of our group and we’re going to remind you of that fact in a thousand small ways. It’s even more infuriating because most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

    Quite of few readers have described their anxiety or discomfort at particular social situations where they haven’t fit in, for a variety of reasons. Having such prescriptive (usually unspoken) rules and manners only amplify that shame. Those who have questioned the heavy tone of such responses simply don’t get it. What to you seems trivial, to others is weighty. A disagreement over the appropriateness of elbows on or off the table is symbolic of something much deeper.

    Cup of Jo team, I’m sure you didn’t expect that directions these comments have taken. I, for one, am very grateful to have had the opportunity to consider these heavy thoughts. Although I do agree with Janey, the salt and pepper “marriage” is adorable!

    Even if it is completely heteronormative (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

    • J says...

      I loved this comment

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you Meghan, my thoughts exactly!

    • S says...

      This is a great comment. I knew some of these rules, not all, and that makes sense as I grew up in a somewhat privileged background (privilege with race, not economically). I do wish that these things were taken less seriously to help open society up, but I also think that this is a great post (because let’s be honest some people will always take them seriously).

    • gmkjr says...

      True and elitist, but it also sounds a bit like reverse snobbery to me, Meghan. My grandmother grew up in non-privileged circumstances, but she always believed table manners and “refinement” were important. I think its important to have an idea of what table manners are, but more for traffic cop reasons, so I don’t drink out of my neighbor’s wine glass, but you are correct that people will make judgements about you, based on your table manners, and associated judgements about how well you want to conform your conduct to fit into society, whether professionally or socially.

      Fortunately, table manners are fairly simple to learn, if you choose to make the effort.

      Beyond that, there is also an issue of eating gracefully, which to me means holding and using your silverware so that your motions are not clumsy and your food ends up in your mouth, and not on your clothing. And you minimize waving your arms around while eating. I do not claim any expertise in this area, but it is a pleasure to see someone who does things, including eating, in a graceful way. That means you hold utensils like a pencil, balanced on one finger, guided by others, rather than like a screwdriver, clenched in your fist. There is also a debate about hand-switching, and what it says about your background, meaning whether you hold your fork in your left hand, English-style, and eat off the back, or hold it in your right hand, which I understand is a “European fashion” and is an older style, and is how I was taught to eat in a middle class family in the 1950s. Another rule is about silverware, is that it is generally used from the outside working inward by courses, with the coffee spoon and dessert fork above your plate. Another rule for hostesses is that you never eat with a spoon when a fork could be invented (and sold) for the purpose, which accounts for the existence of ice cream forks and other weird eating utensils.

      The point of etiquette books is that they exist to point out these matters, so that it is easier for people to feel like they fit-in in unfamiliar circumstances. And by the way, my wife reminds me there is no disagreement about resting your forearms or “elbows on the table.” Generally OK at casual affairs, a no-no at a formal dinner. Public broadcasting buffs will recall a scene from a 1990s version of Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey, in which the youthful heroine takes her cue from her friend when faced with a daunting array of silverware while at dinner with her friend’s stuffy, formal family.

  8. Rosie says...

    YES! this is the trick I learned as well and what I have passed onto our daughter.

  9. Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek says...

    The trick we were taught for bread plate/left vs. drinks/right is to touch your pointer finger to your thumb in each hand, holding the other fingers straight. Your left hand makes a “b” (bread) and your right hand makes a “d” (drink)! Easy peasy!

    • Kat says...

      I’m a Navy wife and we all do this as we sit down to fancy military dinners haha!

    • Kate says...

      YES! I often find myself subtly making two “a-ok” hand signals in my lap at crowded dinner settings to double-check :D

  10. Valerie says...

    I’m attributing this to one of Emily Post’s descendants, but it could have been Letitia Baldridge (White House etiquette for JFK). Etiquette and manners, at their core, are about everyone being comfortable and glad to be together. If the host insists you take a bite before they do, do it. If someone puts their elbows on the table while chatting, they’re relaxed (or really engaged). So on and so forth.

    If there’s members of the party who are unfamiliar with some of the “rules” that exist to try and keep a dinner running smoothly without people having to debate “whose bread is this?” … then it is, according to the experts, the height of ungracious behavior to act in any way that makes that person feel uncomfortable or less than.

    I hated when my mother bought me etiquette books so that I could more easily pass for refined with the families of wealthier friends, but that thought basically gave me the armor to know that if anyone ever made me feel bad for not knowing a made up rule, that they’re the uncultured party, not me.

    Be kind to others :)

    • emily says...

      I love this Valerie, thank you for contributing. It is nice to understand what’s meant to go where but I completely agree with you- if the people at the table are able to enjoy their shared experience, who gives a darn. I’m an elbow-rester for life and hate to feel self-conscious when I realize I’m engrossed in conversation and I’ve done it yet again.

    • Cynthia Miller says...

      I always think of Atticus Finch in the beginning of “To Kill a Mockingbird” who pours molasses all over his food because that is what his young guest does, and he wants him to feel comfortable.

  11. Jillian says...

    Love this and will remember these as I try to be more mindful while eating and slooooow down.

    Dining out pet peeves-why are waitstaff so eager to take your plate away so quickly and sometimes without asking if you’re finished?!!!
    And when waitperson asks, “how are your first bites?” When did this become a thing. Ugh!

    • Madison M says...

      it’s common protocol to ask how someone’s food is after the first few bites. if something were wrong with the food (e.g., cooked to wrong temperature, bad taste, not what was ordered/expected) — the waitstaff and kitchen should know right away so the issue can be remedied.

    • B. says...

      thanks for this, madison m!

      sincerely,
      your waitstaff who wants to know if your food tastes right. <3

    • kim says...

      But there are so many horror stories about what happens to food sent back to the restaurant kitchen that I would never admit if something were wrong (unless it was a meat item dangerously undercooked). I would find a way to eat around it and hope the server or manager would notice and offer to adjust the bill.

    • Elle says...

      Don’t you find that they always ask how everything tastes RIGHT when your first bite is in your mouth? So all you’re left to do is nod with chipmunk cheeks and awkwardly give a thumbs up? Hahaha gets me every time!

    • Christine says...

      Sometimes the waitstaff is trying to fit in another turn (party) in order to increase revenue.

  12. Chrissy says...

    My favorite hack to make sure you remember what side bread and drinks are is, make the “Ok” sign with both hands. Your left hand will form the letter b (for bread) and your right a d (for drinks). I’m 41, and I still do this in my lap at restaurants all the time and no one is ever the wiser.

  13. CS says...

    I had learned the opposite about salting food: “Salt your food before tasting it, so as to indicate to the host that you believe the meal is already perfectly seasoned (you don’t even need to taste it because you know the chef did it correctly) and therefore the need to pour extra salt is strictly about your pre-existing preferences, not the taste of the food.”

  14. Anna says...

    This seems unnecessarily stressful! Who cares if the salt and pepper are passed together?! I’d hate to be thinking about my etiquette “performance,” or judging others for their performance, rather than all of us enjoying our meal and one another’s company.

    I think good table manners should just be, be a considerate companion in light of the circumstances of the meal, while having grace with those who make gaffes.

    • Lindsay says...

      Anna, in my personal life I agree with you! Give me the elbows on the table and eating on the couch, I want to be comfortable, and create a relaxed atmosphere for guests.
      In work life in fundraising, on the other hand, this was super helpful as I was first starting out (I remember when it was first posted!). Sometimes I have donors (my favorite ones) who are super causal about meal etiquette, but the times I don’t, I’m so grateful to not be stressed about my etiquette. Its even a little entertaining to go home and eat some ice cream out of the container later :)

  15. Katie says...

    I agree with you, Meghan! I did not grow up in a multi-cultural family, but was raised in a small town far from anywhere “fancy” enough to abide by these rules, am currently married to someone from a different cultural background and have lived all over the country and world. I cannot keep it straight. It’s nice to to know…sort of, but I kind of think it’s pretentious and just a way to distinguish between social classes. If a boss is seriously rejecting me based on whether or not I know which bread is mine they aren’t going to like me for many other reasons too. I think it’s fine to think about and try to get “right”, but also ok to ask in the moment.

  16. Rachel says...

    Is that blowing on your soup spoon?

  17. Rosie says...

    The one I can’t get over people not knowing is that drinks go on the right. To me that is beyond basic and yet I have seen people pick up my water glass or cup of coffee. How do you not know that? Every table is set that way in every restaurant. Every time I’ve seen a table set on TV or at a friends house it is on the right. How do people not get this?

    • Maureen says...

      Growing up Indian we are with our hands. I didn’t learn how to use some utensils until high school I remember trying eat pasta in public for the first time and feeling so out of my element. So don’t assume that everyone has the same upbringing as others.

    • AE says...

      People are preoccupied with other things, are from cultures or backgrounds different from yours, are taught to savor [literally] the important things like…the food and company. I think of a million more reasons why someone would not know or care about this and a million reasons to suspend judgment on this of all things.

    • Kristn says...

      I am aware of this rule, but don’t always follow it. I’m left-handed and have to adapt every single day. Can’t I just have my glass on the left side so I don’t need to reach over my plate to enjoy a drink?

    • Jess J says...

      I’m left-handed so I often move my glass to the left side when not in a formal eating setting :)

    • Kathleen says...

      I wonder if it has to do with their dominant hand? I am left handed and pick up my drinking glass with my left hand naturally (so even if starts on the right, it probably ends up on the left). I actually set the table for my family with the water on the left hand side although this post made me think perhaps I should start doing it on the right if that is the standard everywhere else!

    • A says...

      Hi Rosie! I grew up in India and at home we mostly eat with our hands, so the glass always goes on the left because it’s assumed that your right hand will have rice or something on it. I found it really strange the first time I saw glasses on the right, but it totally makes sense if you are eating with utensils :)

    • Rosie says...

      Cultural differences make so much sense, but all instances I’m thinking of occurred with white people who grew up in the US or Canada. I’m ambidextrous so I am more conscious of what side I do things with. Can I use my fork and knife both ways, yes, but I do one more than the other so it can be clumsy if I switch for some reason.

    • CS says...

      So fascinating to read the comments. I think they reflect how the world is changing. The etiquette rules are nice, but I think they just don’t need to be followed as rigidly as before. People are more relaxed about things now… which I think is good because these guidelines are actually kind of discriminatory against left-handed people! Lol! It’s interesting because we respect people’s sexual orientation and identity, and their race and culture (which is fantastic!), but if one uses one’s dominant hand, as a leftie, one is being “rude”. Which is kind of ridiculous because your dominant hand is literally one of the most integral things about you and how your brain and body work. So: I like etiquette rules creating order for us all (So we can all set the table in a consistent way), but approached with a relaxed, non-judgmental, and flexible attitude (so once you are enjoying the meal, you can move the glass wherever you need to!) :)

  18. Kate says...

    I love this and am big into table manners, having grown up with a strict mum. It was even stricter at our English grandparents’ place (for example; shoes must always be worn at the dining table, including breakfast!). Even now I cringe a bit inside when my partner uses the communal butter knife to put butter from the dish directly onto his bread, instead of putting a pat of butter on the side of his plate and then using his own knife to do the buttering…

    • Rosie says...

      What about when someone used a dirty dinner knife to take butter from the communal butter dish? It makes me so uncomfortable!

    • Jenny says...

      I see your pain and I’ll raise you: my sister’s partner will use the communal butter knife / mustard spoon to spread whatever he’s taking and will then lick the utensil before returning it. There. Are. No. Words.

  19. Calli says...

    I was taught to remember the location of bread and glassware by touching my thumb to my index finger on each hand – the left hand makes a B (bread), and your right hand makes a D (drink).

    • Diane says...

      I just learned this at a dinner party Friday night! so clever.

    • Sarah Issaelkhoury says...

      Came here to say it and it was already here :D this is also an “aha” tidbit that makes other dinner party guests laugh and feel more comfortable.

    • Sarah says...

      I still do this from time to time—it is so helpful!

  20. tiger says...

    big important question here: when do you put your napkin on your lap? The minute you sit down? After ordering and somewhere before the food comes? When the food comes?

    • Rosie says...

      As soon as you sit down.

  21. Ann says...

    I’ve eaten at some fancy sit down dinners and no one ever knows which bread plate is there’s. So what?! Eat how you like to eat and don’t fing worry about it! Just Enjoy your food!

    • Memory Dalton says...

      Thank you for this! I like to think that at a great dinner party, no one is concerned about propers so much as just enjoying themselves. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, you just have to remember which side the wine BOTTLE is on :D

    • Denise Blust says...

      Oh, thank you for this! Reading these comments, I feel like I’m in the middle of a Miss Manners column. Good manners also includes giving the benefit of the doubt, and not judging harshly based on an innocent mistake. Of course it’s nice to be aware and try, but sometimes you make a mistake. I’m left handed, so if I’m distracted, I’m going to reach with that hand. And then I will apologize and laugh and offer the glass on my right, because d’oh!

  22. Emily says...

    “is there any bread LEFT” is also a good memory tool.

    (also, i was taught to put my napkin on my chair when going to the restroom and that the napkin only goes on the table when you’re finished…)

  23. Janey says...

    Salt and pepper are married! Adorable! Cutest drawings :)

  24. steph says...

    I don’t think I got through ONE dinner growing up without my Dad saying “Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, get your elbows off the table.” No idea where he got this one (my name’s not Mabel fyi) but it definitely stuck. I NEVER prop an elbow on the table while eating (or at least without thinking about Mabel).

    • Elizabeth Bumpers says...

      I always heard this rhyme end with, “This is not a horse’s stable!”

  25. Nancy says...

    BMW is also a helpful mnemonic for remembering the order of bridges over the East River. Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for over 15 years and I still use it regularly.

  26. Stef says...

    Have conflicting feelings about this post. Very interesting to read but etiquette rules for who? For those looking to fit in with upper-middle, upper white class society? I went to a small, private liberal arts school with lots of wealthy students (thank you scholarships). I felt very uncomfortable when dining out with friend’s families because it seemed like everyone knew these rules that I didn’t know about due to my background. This post reminded me of that. But I guess that is the reality that if you want to fit in with a certain sector of U.S. society, you gotta follow certain “rules.”

    • Fiona says...

      I totally agree. I’m confused at the narrow-ness of this post. I find myself asking, who is this story written for and who’s voices are left out? A much more interesting post would be a collection of diverse dinner etiquette “rules” from around the world!

    • Temi says...

      It’s just a light hearted post. You don’t have to follow any “rules.” Do you. Let the others who want to master these tips also do them. Win-win!

    • Zoe says...

      I agree with this. I remember being embarrassed when setting the table at my in-laws’ because I didn’t know where the knife and fork went—we used chopsticks at home.

    • Katie says...

      The post didn’t bother me, it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously and even says when it comes to the “rules” you can take ’em or leave ’em, but I’m disappointed at the tone of some of the comments. My new favorite etiquette rule is to not judge other people on whether or not they know and abide by the table manner “rules”. Its a weird thing to feel superior about.

    • agnes says...

      You can be loved and admired even if you don’t master these rules! if you know them, maybe you will feel more confortable and enjoy the company instead of worrying about which glass you should use. The same goes with clothing and language…

    • Atta says...

      Re: For who? For those looking to fit in with upper-middle, upper white class society?

      Yes. If you live in the US, we live in a society where our power structures promote WASP values, it is extremely valuable to know the accepted etiquette rules of that group. As you mentioned, you felt uncomfortable socializing in this group due to social norms (etiquette) that you were not aware of. This is truly no different than going to Thailand and knowing that the etiquette says to hold your spoon in your right hand and the fork in your left and not to eat with your fork or ask for chopsticks.

      To your point – is western etiquette skewed in racially and economically inequitable ways? Absolutely. Does that mean it isn’t a valuable social lubricant? Absolutely not.

      Also, no one is imposing these etiquette rules on groups that wouldn’t normally socialize in that way. For example, I would not expect to follow these rules if I was visiting an Indian household, or a dinner party with my friend-group.

      Though, I agree with Fiona, this post would have been way more interesting with a broader focus of etiquette around the world.

    • HH says...

      Hi all. These “rules” are worth knowing in professional life. Less useful (or even relevant) to every-day life. However, as a graduate student and later, in my career, there have been many times when I had to go to a sit-down dinner at my university. Fortunately for me, my school (a public university, not a fancy college) offered free formal dinners for any student who was interested in learning and practicing formal dining etiquette. Do I remember all of it? No. But I do remember the placement of my fork and knife when I’m finished eating as a considerate signal to the waitstaff; I do remember to put my napkin immediately in my lap; I do remember the bread left tip; and I do remember that salt and pepper are “married” although I’ve never managed to pass them together in one hand and have never seen anyone at any of these dinners actually do that. Does any of this matter in everyday life? No. But learning those simple things has saved me embarrassment at formal meals. But typically, everyone at those meals looks at each other with embarrassment–is that your glass or mine?, we always say, laughing. Consider CoJ’s post as helpful information if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. If someone doesn’t hire you because you didn’t pass the salt and pepper together, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway. But if they rule you out because you huffily pour your drink in your neighbor’s lap in protest at the “marriage” of salt and pepper… well, they are within their rights. Treat everyone with respect and kindness and graciousness and you will succeed with the people who are worth succeeding with.

  27. Jennifer says...

    Chinese American here, and yes to everything when we eat Western foods! But here’s one more – in Chinese (and many other Asian cultures, I think), you never leave chopsticks crossed or stuck in your food. Both are symbolic of death. When I see really stylized shoots of Asian cuisines with chopsticks sticking out of a bowl of rice, I go all wiggy inside! In my family, we always rest chopsticks neatly parallel across our bowl or plate.

    • Jeanne says...

      I just heard my mom’s voice in your comment. “Don’t plant your chopsticks! It will give you bad luck.” They aren’t supposed to be sticking out of food because they resemble incense at a funeral or altar. Also the eldest are served first. Happy Lunar New Year! (That comes with another host of etiquette rules that I’m always seeming to mess up!)

    • Kaitlin J. says...

      Jennifer- thank you so much for mentioning this. Absolutely fascinating, and very glad to know this tip in regards to chopsticks!

  28. Meghan says...

    Personally, etiquette has always made me very uncomfortable, probably because it’s so culture-specific. The rules illustrated here are completely Euro-centric. That’s not a bad thing, but I think it’s worth pointing out that these rules only apply to a small minority of people in the world.

    I was raised in a multi-cultural, multi-racial household and I remember being so frustrated when I was little and my friends’ parents would lecture me on the correct way to eat, or behave at dinner, the implication being that my parents hadn’t done a good job of teaching me how to act. I did know the rules; they were just different. I knew to always serve the eldest person at the table first. I knew never to ask for someone to pass a plate or bowl of food to me because it is rude to interrupt someone else’s meal. Just because someone doesn’t know your rules, doesn’t mean they don’t have etiquette.

    • s says...

      Here here!

    • Molly says...

      YES!

    • Rosie says...

      It may be culturally specific, but I don’t go to other countries and expect to be served the way I am in the United States. You have to adapt by paying attention to what other people are doing, how they hold cutlery, what they say. I don’t think it’s a great idea to say well F etiquette when it could make a big difference at a job interview or when you meet the family of someone important to you. All those little things say something about you before anyone has gotten to know you. They don’t necessarily know you were raised elsewhere. They just see that you’re breaking social norms of this country and that calls things into question.

    • AE says...

      @ Rosie…your statement is ignorant, at best. The USA is not a monolith. How you eat in this country, is very different from how other natives to this country eat. Your comment makes me sad– it’s a strange mash-up of “If you don’t like it…leave” and the tired/racist, “speak English in America!” You may want to reconsider….

    • Meghan says...

      I see your point, Rosie, except you are making the assumption that “American” etiquette is Western/European etiquette. This negates the fact that the United States has always included people of different cultures and customs. Just because someone eats with chopsticks and a bowl or with their hands while sitting on the floor doesn’t make them any less American than someone who eats with a knife and fork.

    • SG says...

      Hey Rosie, I don’t think she was saying F etiquette at all. She was saying that etiquette is culturally specific and your implying that the US has only ONE Euro-centric culture is actually the more limiting belief here. We have cultures from every country on the planet. You may want to re-examine your own beliefs and think about why you are reacting so strongly to someone simply stating that there there is more than one type of cultural etiquette to follow. And for the record, I completely agree with Meghan. I feel like many of these etiquette rules were created to specifically make those who were not born into the upper classes feel out of place. Some of us who were raised in the lower to middle class who were able to pave their own way to the middle-upper class are no lesser beings than those were were born and bred with these rules.

    • Joy says...

      I was raised without much information on etiquette (being in foster care etc.). It would have been so helpful had I realised myself this when I was a child. I always thought that (after I was once called out on my manners) that my manners revealed my background and let everyone know I was ‘bad news’. After that I was never able to enjoy a meal with people that I did not know without overanalysing every small part of my table manners.