Just like evolution, eating habits have evolved throughout the years. Table manners as we know it were first introduced in fifteenth and sixteenth century. Not only was having table manners a big deal, but having wine tasting etiquette, toasting etiquette as well as etiquette topics was seen as a must have if you want to be considered ‘educated’. I bet you didn’t know that. In short, to have these manners, you had to be an elite member of society.
So, in this day and age, do manners still matter? Yes, quite largely so. When dining, it’s important to practice pleasant eating habits. This creates an aura of control and thoughtfulness for those around you and it surely puts you in the next guest list of that social event you’ve been waiting to be invited to. Also, your kids mimic your actions and so if you behave the right way, they will too.
In this article, we’re going to give you a few basic tips on the do’s and don’ts of dining.
- Place the napkin on your lap to avoid food staining your clothes. We all want to avoid that intense washing to come if this so happens.
- When using cutlery, always remember to start with the outside, going inwards accordingly.
- Fingers came before forks, knives and spoons and so if the situation allows, don’t be shy to use them. Especially for meals that require them like our famous Ugali. You scoop it up with your fingers and make tiny balls and dip in your choice of beans, beef stew or the yummy mchicha wa nazi. Yum!
- Chew with your mouth closed. Trust me, no one wants to see or hear what goes on in there when you’re devouring that amazing piece of chicken.
- Cut your food in small portions to avoid a heavy set of food in your mouth. (This will save you from choking)
- The bread rolls: make a habit of breaking them into smaller pieces then butter it. Do not butter the entire roll.
- Keep your smartphone away from the table to give those around you your undivided attention. This shows them their importance to you. Once you’re done eating and are off the table, you can then check your phone. To make things more interesting, everyone around the table can place their phones in front of them and whoever reaches for it first is on dishes duty!
- Don’t rush to eat your food. Unless it’s a live octopus, it’s not going anywhere so take your time but don’t be the one left behind.
- Instead of trying to reach for something that is not close to you, ask for it to be passed. Spills can be avoided this way.
- No slouching nor placing your elbows on the table. Unless of course you are engaging in a conversation between meals. Then it’s alright for your elbows to play a part.
- Don’t talk about things that will make people lose their appetite. Put some thought into what you’re going to say without offending anyone.
- Avoid drinking or sipping while chewing unless you’re choking. Wait until you have swallowed your food to take that sip.
- No slurping!
- Spaghetti, spaghetti, spaghetti can be a bit messy! Cut into smaller elegant bite size and scoop it up with your fork, easier to handle!
- I know you’re excited for that meal, but it’s important to remember to wait until everyone is served to begin eating.
- Don’t pick your teeth at the table. If you’re having a hard time and you REALLY need to pick your teeth, you can either excuse yourself from the table or cover your arm over the other when using a toothpick.
- Always use words like ‘thank you’ or ‘excuse me’.
- Just because you’ve finished your food, doesn’t mean you get to leave the table. Unless on an emergency or kitchen duty, engage in conversations and be present.
- When at home or in a social gathering and finished with the meal, offer your help in clearing the table. This shows appreciation and care. Besides that, you’ll be remembered for your effort.
There you go! You can now use these simple guidelines for an acceptable dining experience. Of course, if you’re not used to this, you may not get all of them the first time round but make it a habit to practice. Always remember, table manners, matter!