Follow etiquette for formal lunches, dinners

Dining etiquettes were never meant to take away from the joy of eating. However, what most people forget is that if done right, not only do you dine with elegance, but also enjoy the food a lot as it simplifies the whole regime.

Respond to the invite with a clear yes or no, and always taste the food before adding salt and pepper when you go for a luncheon, says an expert.

Sheena Agarwaal, director, Urbanista Image Consultancy, has put together some etiquettes that are good to know and follow the next time you are out for a luncheon or a formal dinner.

* Respond to the invite with a clear yes or no. It paints a wrong image if you are seen cancelling at the last moment.

* Dress for the event. Always ask the host if there is a particular dress code to be followed.

* Always wait to be seated. Allow the waiter to show you the table. Enter the chair from the left and exit the right.

* As a host, invite the guests to order by clearly asking the waiter to take their orders first.

* Never place your handbag or cell phones on the table. Place the handbag on the side of the chair or below the table.

* Always pass the salt and pepper together, even if only one is asked for. In general, if items are not being passed to a specific person, pass food from left to right. Taste the food before adding salt and pepper.

* Food is served on the left, except for beverages, and empty plates are removed from the right.

* Soup must be taken with the soupspoon and crackers eaten with the fingers.

* Remove fish bones, fruit seeds, inedible materials with your fingers and place these on the side of the plate as inconspicuously as possible.

* Wipe your mouth with the corner of your napkin before drinking.

* Large-stemmed glasses are held with the thumb and the first two fingers at the base of the bowl. Small stemmed glasses are held by the stems.

* Ordinary coughing is done behind the hand without excuse. If you have a coughing fit, leave the table.

* Spills -- small quantities of spilled foods may be picked up immediately and without comment and returned to the plate where they belong. Larger spills - ask for help from wait staff.

* To use a finger bowl, dip the tips of the fingers of one hand at a time and dry them on your napkin, which is held in your lap. You may touch your moistened fingers on your lips, but don't moisten the napkin for this purpose.

* Coffee cups are held with handle between your thumb and fingers. Do not hook a finger through the handle.

* When finished eating, lay the knife and fork close together with the fork on the left, knife on the right with cutting edge facing the fork.

Source: IANS