9 Butler’s Tips for Impeccable Table Manners

The way you eat and behave at the table is still important, says Nicholas Clayton of The Guild of Professional English Butlers. His guidelines:

from Forbidden Advice
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    1. Let your food cool of its own accord - don't blow on it.

    2. Don't spit unwanted food into your napkin - remove it with your fork and place it on the side of your plate.

    3. Never talk with your mouth full.

    4. Don't hold your knife poised as if ready to sign a cheque, and don't point with any of your cutlery.

    5. A napkin is there to protect your clothes; use it to dab the corners of your mouth but never to polish your teeth.

    6. Never cut bread or bread rolls. Break the bread with your fingers and butter a small piece at a time. Breakfast toast is the only exception.

    7. Be careful not to insult your host by adding salt before you have tasted your food.

    8. When you've finished eating, place your knife and fork or spoon and fork together, vertically. Leave your plate where it is - never push it away from you.

    9. Don't get drunk; you'll look absurd.

    Your Comments

    • Bibliophilist

      Salt. Get rid of the ‘adding salt’ altogether. Learn to enjoy food without all the added salt. The overabundance of salt is NOT good for your body.

    • Bibliophilist

      The napkin. I always ask for two – one to guard my clothes, the other to dab the corners of the mouth or take care of spills etc that may occur.

    • Carolina_D

      Wait. I’m not sure how to remove food from my mouth with a fork. It could be painful. (Usually you don’t realize how bad it tastes until you’ve chewed it once or twice.)  I know it’s ‘bad form’ to spit chewed food into a linen napkin, but sometimes there’s no alternative. (I am 50-something and have probably spit something out less than 5 times in my (adult) life. Once it was a bad clam and once it was something with FAR too much chili peppers. When a food is offensive one only thinks about getting it out of one’s mouth ASAP!) So, I’m not taking THIS rule seriously. If I offend someone, well I do apologize if I do this.

      • Bibliophilist

        I find gently and discretely discarding food into a napkin much better that maneuvering a fork in my mouth to place it on the side of the plate. Just remember to not use that napkin for anything again during the meal!