How To Eat Anywhere (With Anyone)

We all know how important dining etiquette is, but most of us (maybe not even the most refined amongst us) don’t know all of the proper dining manners there is. We look at the cutlery on the table and we wonder in what order to use them, or which knife is for what course.. or whether one is a soup spoon or not. All these are very confusing, and we don’t even know sometimes if the napkin is there for us to use or merely placed there for display. Laughable, but it’s true for the majority of us. Dining etiquette is an integral part of social etiquette, and it is a big part of how we portray ourselves in social interactions and settings. One probably needs to attend professional dining etiquette to even start thinking of twirling spaghetti around a fork.

My post today is not targeted at fine dining or eating in a restaurant; that we can leave it to the etiquette masters to share their expertise, probably at prices suited to classy dining classes. I am focussing instead on a simpler idea, and that is how to eat anywhere. Etiquette may not be half as important as enjoying the food or indulging in the ambience, but it sure goes a long way (unfortunately) in leaving an impression on others. To be considered unrefined or brutish definitely is not on any of our game plans.

Below are some simple guidelines (definitely very far from being exhaustive) that will see you through eating at a coffee shop, a hawker centre, or a cosy home cooked meal with your next date. Very general, I am not even vaguely good at this thing but I think these are useful observations that people have talked and shared with me about. We take note of things along the way and here’s a short, unfinished list that I am waiting eagerly to expand with input from as many people as possible.

  1. Do not chew with your mouth open
  2. Avoid letting the food in your mouth show
  3. Do not put onto your spoon more food than your mouth can take in, or more than your spoon can contain
  4. Abstain from lifting your cutlery while talking or including them in your gestures; leave them on the table or pointed at your plate / bowl
  5. Try not to have food all over the plate; instead keep them either nicely segregated into different items, or keep them together at a main part of the plate so that the plate looks neat rather than messy
  6. Leave cutlery at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock if not in use halfway through a meal
  7. Leave cutlery side by side at either left or right side of the plate when finished with the course

Please correct me if any of the above points are wrong or can be improved, and I would be thankful if there is reader input wherever possible to grow and better the list. I really hope to make a list that truly will allow us to eat anywhere with anyone. Cheers to our next dinner!

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