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Cutlery Etiquette – Guide


There are several opportunities in which we are invited to a dinner with our friends, or perhaps with colleagues from work and we enjoy a pleasant time.

However, when we are invited to an important dinner in an elegant restaurant or even a big event like a wedding, we can feel a little bit nervous about not knowing about the "correct" etiquette.

Do not worry! You are not alone in this and we are here for you.

In this article, we are going to focus on cutlery etiquette, which covers the different positions of cutlery, how they should be oriented, before eating, while eating and when finishing the different dishes.

You will see that it is not something complicated, you just have to pay attention and you will be able to behave appropriately and elegantly at mealtime.

So keep reading and learn more about the importance of cutlery etiquette, and do not let a few simple rules make you nervous when it comes to mealtime at an important event!



Cutlery Etiquette




What is the correct way to use cutlery?

Sometimes when we are sitting in front of a casual or formal table, looking at all those utensils, plates, and glasses, without knowing exactly what and how we should use them, we can feel uncomfortable and even overwhelmed.

Do not worry because it does not have to be always like that. With some basic tips, you will learn the correct way to use cutlery at the table.

Just follow these simple guidelines! With practice, it will become second nature.

  • Use first the cutlery lying outside: Some meals consist of more than one dish. In that case, the cutlery will be placed in the order that it should be used. This will make it easier for you to recognize the types of cutlery. Forks are placed on the left side (first the salad fork, then the dinner fork), knives and spoons on the right side (the knife blades with the cutting side pointing to the center), and the dessert utensils (dessert spoon or fork) are above the plates. There should not be more utensils than the necessaries to use when eating all the courses.
  • The use of knives, forks, and spoons: When eating, you should hold the fork with your left hand and the knife with your right hand. You can cut the meat and eat the food, and then leave the knife and change the fork to the other hand to eat the vegetables. However, it is considered more elegant if you use both utensils all the time.


What is the correct way to leave your knife and fork?

Having good manners at the table includes many things, and one that is important to know is the correct way to leave your knife and fork. As we said before, at casual and formal dining setups it is common to have more than one course.

During each dish, we will be using a different set of utensils, which a waiter will take from the table when we finish eating. The way we leave the utensils on the plate will tell the waiter information about our opinion of the meal.

Let’s take a look at the different ways of leaving the knife and fork:

  • When taking a break from eating, put your knife and fork making an inverted V (continental style) or place the knife diagonally on the top right of the plate and the fork near it with the tines up (American style). The waiter will know that he/she should not remove your plate yet.
  • If you finish your dish, make a cross with your utensils. Place the knife pointing to the left and the fork vertically with the tines up. It means you are ready for the next dish.
  • The correct way to say that you did not enjoy the meal, it placing the fork and knife making an X shape.
  • On the other hand, to say that the meal was excellent, place both utensils parallel.
  • If you want to tell the waiter that you did not like the service, insert the knife into the fork.
  • If you were eating soup, it is okay to leave your spoon in the bowl.


How to use cutlery in a formal dinner?

Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you to show good manners in a formal dinner:

  • As we mentioned before, always use the cutlery on the outside first. The utensils should be placed in the other they will be used.
  • When eating with a knife and fork, the knife should be used only for cutting meat. If you need to cut other food, you should use your fork.
  • When eating soup, the spoon should be filled 2/3 of its capacity. It will help you to avoid spilling soup and making a mess!
  • Do not use your cutlery for pointing people while talking.
  • If you want to drink from your glass, put down your cutlery first. You can leave it on the edge of your plate.


Cutlery etiquette while eating

Now we are going to show you some additional tips that you should know and learn to feel comfortable at any dining table. Let’s take a look:

  • Follow your host if you still feel a little bit lost, or if you want to make sure that what you are doing is right.
  • When eating soup, keep the bowl on the table and bring the spoon to your mouth. Avoid making a slurping noise!
  • Always put your cutlery on your plate and not directly on the table (if it is dirty).
  • If during the meal you can serve yourself with food, use the spoon and fork intended for that purpose. Never use your cutlery to serve your food.

We know that it is important to learn all these tips. However, do not feel ashamed if you anytime make a mistake! Probably nobody will notice if you do not call their attention.

As long as you remember all these tips and practice, you will feel more and more confident while eating at a formal table.



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