Tab Guide to etiquette: formal dining
How to make it seem like you know when to eat asparagus with your hand.
Ever felt like your fellow diners were judging you whilst you ate? Never known how to use the vichyssoise fork to eat soup? Then read this brief article on dining manners.
DO tuck in the lady to your right.
DON’T tuck into her though – save the eating out for if your creme brulee is 5-pennied.
DO put your napkin (it’s not a serviette) on your lap. This is also a good tip for when you visit your usual strip club – it will save you so much money on dry cleaning glitter out of your clothes. Put your napkin on your chair if you must be excused from the table, and on the table at the end.
DON’T use your mobile telephone. Taking selfies, which really don’t improve on the original architecture, or ignoring your guests to look at your phone is just downright cell-fish (sorry that that’s an American pun).
DO fill up your wine glass, but only a third for red, and half for white. Fill up your glasses as if you’re making an EDL utopia – more of the white than the colour.
DO hold your wine glass by the stem to avoid heating it. After the NUS’s issues recently, let’s try avoid any more antistemitism.
DO use your left hand to break and eat your bread piece-by-piece. This saves your right hand to be free for shaking hands, holding your wine glass, or borrowing a memento from your time at formal.
DON’T put your dirty knife in the butter each time you would like more. If you put crumbs in the butter you’re an utter wAnchor. Flora lot of people it is obvious that you should put some butter on your plate when offered, and quite frankly, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better taught in schools these days. I hope no one feels offended, or margarinised by my puns.
DON’T lift your bread off the plate as you butter it. You’re not a magician, so please keep the levitation acts to the minimum. Those who do magically levitate their bread off the plate should follow up with a disappearing act, and fuck off.
DO hold your cutlery correctly. Your knife shouldn’t be held like a pen and the tines of the fork should go down – just like I do, ladies (N.B., also The Tab’s 2nd most eligible bachelor).
DO start with the cutlery furthest from the plate, and work your way inwards with each course. Unless you’re at an Adonian dinner, it’s best not to start with the innermost cutlery and come out.
DON’T put your soup spoon in your mouth. You should push it away from you through the soup, bring it to your mouth, and tilt the soup in. Whilst it may be tempting to show off you sexual prowess and how you can fit that big spoon in your mouth, don’t.
DO correctly place your cutlery down on the plate when you have finished dining. They should rest at the bottom, like a quality pair of anal beads.
DON’T put salt all over your food, especially before tasting. You should put a small amount on the side of your plate and have some with each mouthful. Salt is a lot like family; best taken in small quantities, and left on the side the rest of the time.
DO pass the port to the left. The port always goes to the left. If you pass it back to the right, you might as well stand up and say “Daddy didn’t pay for my education, but yours did with his taxes”.
DON’T cut the tip off the cheese. Cut wedges out of round cheeses, and slices off of wedge-shaped cheeses. You don’t have to listen to me though – it’s just a tip.
DO say thank you if you are served. Ignoring the fact that manners cost nothing and show appreciation. You should never upset the people who serve your food unless you like the taste of bodily fluids.
DO tear off a bunch of grapes and put them on your plate. We’d all be very grapeful if you didn’t grope the grape bunch each time you wanted one, and simply took a bunch of them for your plate.
DON’T refer to your pudding as a “dessert”. The sweet course after the main course is called “pudding”, and the fruit course after that, “dessert”. Use both the fork and spoon above the place setting to eat your pudding. Some people will disagree but it’s about time we start pudding them in their place.
As the year’s formals come to a close and May Ball dining begins, go out an enjoy your new manners.