For this Epicurean Concept we bring you a dining etiquette tip from Joanna’s days at finishing school. No I’m not playing an epic, online version of The Circle Game. This is a visual clue like making a L with your left hand (if you can’t separate your right and left hands… which shouldn’t still be practiced past age 5 people). With this little trick you can avoid a common table faux pas.
The picture above represents that b is for bread and d is for drinks. I learned this little trick while in Hanoi this past weekend. Four of us sat down to eat at a very compact table. I had a wine glass and a water glass and I wasn’t sure which was which as others would take a drink and set their glasses down in different areas. Also I accidentally used my neighbor’s bread dish as my own, throwing the whole table off.
Joanna lifted up her hands and showed me b is for bread and d is for drinks. Easy peasy, Japanesy. My drink was on my right hand side and I should have used the bread plate on my left, not on my right. In this case, classic dining etiquette serves not to make the eating experience stuffy, but instead according to James G Lewis:
…the point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable… The idea is that if there are standards that people abide by, then you can have confidence that you are behaving “appropriately.” It takes the guesswork out of public behavior.
I like the phrasing of that. Proper etiquette takes the guess work out of public behavior. Having this simple little rule keeps us from having to stop dinner while everyone decides which glass is theirs or their neighbors. Done.
Maybe this is elementary for most of you guys out there, but I grew up eating most of my meals wrapped in some type of paper or on a stick of some sort