The Man's Guide to Formal Dining
If you went to the Prom, then you're not a stranger to formal dining. How well you comported yourself in front of your date, on the other hand, is a totally different thing. It takes more than knowing the difference between a fork and a spoon to impress. Read on and bring a more polished you to the table.
1. Just like when you've managed to sweet talk a woman into coming home with you and are slowly unpeeling the layers of fabric between you, when it comes to the spoons and forks laid out on either side of your stacked plates remember this simple rule: work from the outside, in.
2. The piece of white cloth on top of your place setting is called a napkin. However, unlike the usual disposable kinds you are given at the local food court, this napkin is never used to wipe one's mouth. No. In the polite society you are currently dining with, the napkin is used to gently dab at the mouth. When not in use, place your napkin across your lap and away from your companions' eyes, lest the stain from your lobster bisque offend. When you are done with the meal, fold your napkin and place on the left side.
3. Bread and butter are often provided at the start of each meal. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make a sandwich! Take a piece of bread and place it on your bread dish (that would be the smallest plate in front of you). Tear the bread into smaller pieces. Then using your bread knife (that would be the flat knife with no serrated edges and a blunted, almost round tip), smear some butter onto your tiny bit of bread. Then eat.
4. Your bowl is not a cup. Your bowl is not a mug. Do not pick it up off the table and bring it to your lips. Use your soup spoon to get your soup from Point A (bowl) to Point B (your mouth) by moving, once again, from the outside, in. Having said this, I don't think we need to point out that using a straw is also frowned upon.
5. As with your bread, when your entrée (fancy word for ulam) arrives, take your knife and your fork and cut off a small piece before delivering the goods to your gaping maw. Chew. Swallow. Repeat the process. Do not pre-cut all your meat for expediency. You are a grown man, not a toddler.
6. For advanced formal dining, here's another tip: always spear your meat with your fork tines pointing downwards and bring said meat to your mouth in the same manner. You will not be using your spoon at any given time.
7. How to signal that you're done eating? Place your knife and fork side by side at an 11 o'clock position. Not quite done? Then place your utensils in a crossed position.
8) When in doubt, look around. Someone at the table - usually the host - has been to this formal rodeo. Follow their example.