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13 Rules of Table Manners Most People Haven’t Heard Of

You're probably aware of the main principles of table etiquette and you may be surprised if you come across someone who isn't. There are, however, some non-obvious rules that are worth paying extra attention to. For example, many people are still confused about what they can eat with their hands and when it's best to use cutlery.

Bright Side has made a list of some practical advice that will help you feel calm while you eat and avoid making embarrassing mistakes at the dinner table.

1. Miso soup

Miso soup is usually served in a small deep bowl. You should put it in your palm and drink the liquid with small sips. The chopsticks in the other hand should hold the tofu and other ingredients. After you drink the liquid, you can eat the tofu, mushrooms, and other solid ingredients using a spoon or chopsticks.

2. Bacon

Since crispy bacon can break if you cut it with a knife, it's perfectly acceptable to eat it with your hands. Soft bacon is usually greasy so if you don't want to get your fingers dirty, you can use a fork and a knife.

3. Olives and black olives

When olives are an appetizer, you can use your hands to take them. If olives are an ingredient in a dish (like a salad, for example) then they are eaten with a fork. You can eat an olive in a martini glass after the beverage is drunk by just throwing it into your mouth.

4. Fish steak

Fish steaks are usually made out of salmon or trout. They can be eaten with special cutlery: a fork with 3 prongs and a spatula-like knife. Fish meat is very soft, so it has to be carefully separated with a knife and then brought to the mouth with a fork. The knife can also be used to move the skin and the bones away.

5. Whole fish

Cut the fish in the middle from head to tail without touching the spinal cord. Open the upper layer like a book, holding the meat with a fork. Put the pieces of meat on a free spot on your plate. Use a fork to remove the spinal cord and place it on the plate for bones. You can spritz some lemon on the fish and start eating it with the same fork and knife.

6. Meat on the bone

If you are in a formal setting, like a business lunch, for example, then you should use cutlery to eat meat on the bone. If you are surrounded by friends and family at home or at a barbeque, then it's acceptable to eat it with your hands.

7. Shrimp

  • If it's a dish with shrimp that aren't peeled, you can bring them to your mouth with your hands. After that, the remains should be discarded.
  • If you are eating shrimp skewers as an appetizer, you should soak them in sauce and put them in your mouth straight from the skewer. If the shrimp are too big and you can't fit them in your mouth, you should take bites. In this case, you shouldn't soak a bitten shrimp in the sauce.
  • A shrimp cocktail is served in a high glass or in a deep bowl. The shrimp that are too big are cut into several pieces. If you can't use a knife, use a fork and take bites. You can soak the bitten shrimp in the sauce if the sauce is only for you.
  • Peeled and fried shrimp on a plate are eaten with a fork and a knife.

8. Pizza

If you are at a party, you can take a piece of pizza from the plate with your hands. The same rule extends to any informal environment. But if you are at a business lunch, a cafe, or at a restaurant, then you should cut the pizza with a fork and a knife.

9. Tacos

  • A crispy taco can be picked up with your hands. If you choose the filling yourself, start with the lettuce — it will keep the taco dry longer. Then, you can add rice, cheese, and vegetables. Don't put in too much and hold it over a clean plate. If some of the ingredients fall, then you'll be able to pick it up quickly.
  • If the taco is soft, it should be wrapped. You can put some sauce on the top and eat it with a fork and a knife.

9. Baked potatoes

Baked potatoes are eaten with a fork. A potato can be held with the fingers of one hand while the other hand uses a fork to remove the potato peel. Then, the potato is broken into pieces with your hands and the fork is used to mix the inside of the potato with the other ingredients.

10. Green peas

Green peas are eaten with a fork and a knife. A knife is used to collect peas on the fork before you put them in your mouth. Another option is to use the prongs of the fork. Just don't mash the peas!

11. Avocado

An avocado cut in half is eaten with a small spoon. The pieces of avocado in a salad should be eaten with a fork. Guacamole, just like any pâté, can be put on a piece of bread or a cracker.

12. Cheese

Soft kinds of cheese (such as Camembert and Bree) are eaten with the crust. When it comes to the solid kinds of cheddar, the crust is cut off with a knife while the cheese is held with a fork.

  • In the restaurant, a cheese plate is offered as a dessert and often served with nuts, fruit, and crackers. Soft kinds of cheese are cut into pieces and put on the plate. This cheese can be put on crackers and bread. You can eat this sandwich with your hands.
  • The solid kinds of cheese should be cut into pieces and can be placed on your plate. If you are in a formal environment, you should eat the cheese with a fork. But if you make a sandwich with a cracker or a piece of bread, then it's okay to eat it with your hands.

13. Desserts

  • Eclairs are always eaten with a fork and a knife. You should be very careful when cutting it so that the filling doesn't pour out.
  • Donuts and pastry should be broken with your hands and brought to the mouth in small pieces.
  • Scones with icing are cut in half and eaten with the hands. If the food is too sticky, then you need to use cutlery.

Table manners are not only the rules of how to use cutlery properly. You should also remember the rules of behavior: don't leave your phone on the table; wipe your lips with a napkin before taking a sip from your glass so that the edges stay clean; when standing up, say "Excuse me." It's much more enjoyable to eat with polite people. As Anton Chekhov said, "A good upbringing means not that you won't spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won't notice it when someone else does." These words really do say it all when it comes to table manners.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable while eating? Share your stories with us in the comments!

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