Etiquette Refresher: Knives + Forks

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Good table manners are a necessity for everyone and there are some simple rules to remember when using cutlery.  In this post we review the simple do’s and don’t when using a knife and fork in Australia.

A knife should not be held like a pencil, rather it should be held with the end of the handle touching the centre of the palm of your hand.  Your thumb should extend down one side of the handle with the index finger pointing down the back but never touching the actual blade.  Your other three fingers should curl naturally around.

When a fork is used without a knife the tines (prongs) should always point upwards.  The fork should be held near the top of the handle, resting on the middle finger and supported by the outer fingers.  Left-handed people hold it in their left hand, while right-handed people should transfer it from the left side of their plate to their right hand.

Australian’s have adopted the British system of only using both the knife and fork together for the main course.  The knife, only required when cutting.  When used together, the knife cuts the food and is used to push the food onto the prongs of the fork, not onto the scooped side.

When resting cutlery between conversation, the knife and fork should be crossed on the plate with the fork over the knife and the prongs pointing down. When finished eating, place the knife and fork together with the prongs of the fork facing upwards and the blade of the knife facing the fork.

Related Posts:
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Dining Out Etiquette
My top 5 secrets to weight control

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Dining Out Etiquette

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Dining out should always be a pleasant experience, be it a intimate dinner for two or a party with friends and family.  When dining out, it is expected that you, as the guest behave in a manner which is in keeping with the sort of restaurant you are visiting.  Be it a casual brunch on a weekend to a formal dinner there are a handful of guidelines which can ensure your dining experience is an enjoyable one.

Make a reservation.

It is the host’s duty to call ahead of time to arrange a reservation.  This avoids unnecessary queuing as popular restaurants may be pre-booked for days in advance.   The time of booking is also an opportunity to check in advance and advise of any special dietary requirements of your guests.

Ensure you arrive in a timely manner at your reservation.  In the words of Ita Buttrose it is “unforgivable” to reserve a table and not turn up.  Always ensure you cancel a booking even if it is at the last minute.

Some restaurants may not take reservations.  In this case, be sure you arrive ahead of time to ensure you are at the top of the waiting list and may be seated before the arrival of your guests.

Arrival

Upon your arrival at the restaurant, wait for the maitre d’ to escort you to your table.  Some restarants may offer to take your coat or umbrella before being seated.  At a table with a banquette, women are traditionally seated on the banquette, the men on chairs opposite them.  Once seated, you’ll probably be offered pre-dinner drinks.  It is perfectly acceptable to politely decline until once you have perused the drinks menu further.

Ordering

Styles of menus various enormously, from  fancy handwritten menus that change daily to elaborate printed menus which feature a Table d’hôte or fixed price menu with limited choice.  In contrast, other restaurants may have a À la carte menu, which simply means that each dish has a stated price and the dishes can be ordered in any combination desired.

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The basic rule of ordering from a menu is to ask the waiter about any dish you do not understand.  Asking what a particular dish contains does not make you look stupid as there is no point in ordering what you do not recognize!  Any waiter will know what is on offer or at least be able to find out.

Complaints

What if something is wrong with the food you ordered?  The dish is not cooked, the food is cold or the salad tastes nasty!  Whatever your complaint be sure to quietly explain your issue to the waiter.  Any reputable restaurant will be obliging and willing to resolve the problem and replace the dish.

The Bill

When the meal draws to a close, attract the attention of a waiter and request the bill.  Don’t forget to discreetly check the bill for errors. Signal the waiter when the payment is ready for collection.

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