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Dinner Etiquette

Last night, I presented in the Etiquette Dinner for about 90 graduate students at SU. While it is important to know the basics like the appropriate ways of drinking soup, using folks and knives, passing items on the table, and etc., I believe that showing respect to the host/hostess is the foremost important etiquette. In many cases, showing respect means going with the flow. Here are some examples:  

  • When I eat with my India friends in an India restaurant, even though silverwares are provided, I will eat with my hands if all my Indian friends want to do that.  
  • I am not a Christian. If I am eating with my Christian friends and they want to make a meal blessing by holding my hands on the dining table, I will hold their hands, but I usually just listen to what they say.
  • When everyone at the table uses hands on chicken wings and ribs, I will do the same.
  • When I eat with my Korean friends in a traditional Korean restaurant, if they choose to sit on the floor, I will not object their choice by moving to a regular table with chairs.

What does showing respect or going with the flow mean to you? Can you provide some specific examples?  

Again, the key of dinner etiquette is “doing the right things” so that everyone feels comfortable at the table. It is good to know the standards of dinner etiquette. It is also important to observe others’ preferences and possibly follow the lead of the host/hostess. What do you think?

References:
The picture was downloaded from a webpage of University of Wisconsin River Falls.

Comments

  1. Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. By that definition, it's essentially social rules to follow appropriately adapted to the social situation you would be in. Everyone knows that it's polite to say "please" and "thank you" when asking and receiving. Likewise, I agree that it is proper etiquette and polite to follow the customs and traditions of your host/hostess while dining.

    In most cultures, it is seen as terribly offensive and disrespectful to not follow said traditions. For instance, in India shoes must always be removed when entering a home in which you've been invited for a meal. It's also considered incredibly offensive, and dirty, to eat with your left hand even if you are left hand dominant. And in very traditional homes, meals are served separately for certain people. It's customary for all the men to be served by the women first, followed by children, and lastly the women will eat.

    While I was in India when I was 16yrs old I had to abide by that customary practice in my father's very traditional side of the family. Though I was extremely hungry, due to my age and being considered a woman rather than a child, I was among the last to eat and was very upset by this, but I followed it out of respect for my aunt and uncle whose home I was in, as well as my father whose brother it was.

    Dining etiquette that unfortunately can not completely be taught. Someone can be shown how to hold a fork properly and to not reach over another person's meal but their social interactions and way of showing respect is something they must learn and pick up on their own. If someone adamantly does not want to eat with their hands, or sit on the floor, or pray before eating, they won't and though it is disrespectful and not polite, it is their choice. Similar to the saying, "You can take a camel to water, but you can not make it drink" people can be told proper etiquette but you can not force them to be polite. It is something they must do.


    -Brinda Sankrith-

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  2. Thank you very much for your input, Brinda. I know better the next time when I travel to India.

    I also agree with you that a good host/hostess should also accommodate the preferences of his/her guests. Etiquette works in both ways.

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  3. Etiquette plays a huge role in the hospitality industry, but a role that is often over looked or ignored. It seems as though many people see the surface of etiquette; chewing with their mouths closed and keeping their elbows off the table, but delving past the surface seems to be lacking.

    In all aspects of like, the idea of going with the flow is very important. People are not always going to do things your way and your way is not always going to be seen as the correct of most appropriate way.

    Overall, in hospitality, comfort and respect are very important values. Hospitality is all about providing comfort to our customers, who are our guests. If we do not show guests our utmost respect, they will not see the atmosphere we are creating as a comfortable one.

    Before coming to Syracuse, I had never met anyone who kept Kosher before. I can honestly admit that I had no idea what keeping Kosher actually entailed until a few months ago. With many of my friends being Jewish, some of them keeping Kosher all year and others just through the holidays, I have been able to learn more about this. Now, when going out to eat or recommending restaurants, I am able to do so allowing everyone to get a meal they are able to eat.

    When in a crowd, it is very important to follow what they find comfortable and customary. Not only is this a way to show respect to a host or hostess, but it is a great way to learn about something that you might not already be familiar with.

    ---Krissie Oja

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