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“The Table Manners Polka” from The Best Foot Forward Series: Gratitude Attitude by Mike Soloway. Released: 2013
Manners and a sense of”decorum” are universal. What is acceptable within one culture is totally rude in another. I suppose that is where the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” originated. If you should travel outside of your comfort zone without a sound knowledge of other people’s customs and manners, you are bound to offend, appear to be RUDE and generally will not be invited for a return engagement.
Many “older” cookbooks generally have a chapter on etiquette or “table manners” and the majority of them were published at the turn of the century and into the 1940’s. Somehow, though, apparently etiquette went the way of the dinosaur, at least in more recent cookbooks and in my large collection, I seldom see any mention of such mundane topics in books published in the last 50 or so years. If there is a recently published cookbook, which includes a section on “table manners”, I sincerely hope that #1 rule is: NO CELL PHONES AT THE DINING TABLE, NO MATTER WHERE OR WHEN, PERIOD!
From my collection, I selected a few cookbooks with sections on such esoteric matters. From a marvelous and, I assume, seldom seen cookbook entitled “The Kazakh national cuisine“, published in 2007, the following are extracted from the chapter “Omens, bans and popular notions regarding meals“.
“For sure one should not speak with his mouth full“.
“A child should not eat brains, otherwise he will grow into a very slow and sluggish person”
“One should not say bad things about the food”
“One should not eat out-of-doors, standing, walking or lying”
“A child eating bread crumbs will make rich”
“Adults are prohibited to sit at the table without clothes, with bare torso”
“If a person hiccups, they say, he secretly ate food that he had stolen”
And, lastly, from “The Kazakh national cuisine: “One should not sit down on food and crockery”
From “The Household Library“, published in 1905 come the following bits of etiquette:
“...pouring liquids down the throat as down a pipe….are indulgences conferring no additional pleasure on the eater, but seriously marring the comfort of his neighbors”
“Soup is to be taken without noise from the side of the spoon opposite to that which is dipped in the liquid”
As for lettuce, “It is the worst possible taste to scrutinize each leaf carefully before eating”
“It is never allowable to take up a bone with the fingers, in public or private”
“Never cut your pie with a knife”
“Bread may be used as a pusher, but should not be employed to soak up the gravy on the plate”
(after the meal is over) “The napkins are laid on the table quietly, not folded: the ladies pass out, the men stand until they have gone…”
And, published in 1852, the “Ladies’ Indispensable Assistant…” has a few things to say about table manners.
“Carefully abstain from every act or observation that may cause disgust, such as spitting…”
“Making a noise in chewing, or breathing hard in eating, are both unseemly habits, and ought to be avoided”
“Eat peas with a dessertspoon”
“A man who monopolises a conversation is a bore, no matter how great his knowledge”
In addition, “Never get into a dispute….never lose temper…”
Everyone knows this golden rule: “Never scratch your head, pick your teeth, clean your nails, or worse than all, pick your nose in company”
And, to bring us up to date in 2018….