Side Dish: Are you a good dinner guest?

Are you a bad dinner guest? 1

Manners may cost nothing, but how many of these did you know?

  1. At a formal occasion, sit down first and wait for the hostess to unfold her own napkin and place it on her lap. If you leave the table temporarily during the dinner, place it on the chair. NEVER use it as a tissue, but that goes without saying, you filthy animals.
  2. When eating bread always place it on the side plate to your left. Break the bread with your hands and never the knife. You must also take a modest knob of butter and place it on your side plate before passing on the dish. Only butter a small chunk of bread at a time, never a whole or half slice.
  3. Soup should be spooned away from your body. Tilt the bowl away from you as you skim the surface and take a spoon. Daintily sip from the side of the spoon with minimal slurping. Remember not to blow on hot food or drink, simply allow it to cool and take a little at a time.
  4. Ask for things to be passed, never lean or reach over another guest. Equally, if you see someone after a particular item, lend him or her a hand. Always pass the salt and pepper together. Taste your food before you salt it. It is insulting to the host if you presume it lacks seasoning.
  5. When stirring a cup of tea or coffee, never touch the sides of your cup with the spoon to avoid the clattering din. Do not leave your teaspoon inside the cup, place it on your saucer facing the same direction as the handle of your cup instead.
  6. Are you familiar with the correct cutlery positions?
  7. Take your time while you eat. Do not cut up more than three bites at a time and take frequent breaks. Do not take a sip of beverage while your mouth is full of food. Pace yourself with alcohol by frequently taking sips of water. Over drinking is considered terribly uncouth… But let’s just ignore that one, shall we?
  8. It is common courtesy to eat what the host has prepared despite personal preferences as the hard work and tender feelings of the chef are more important. If you have any genuine dietary requirements, you must inform the host well in advance. The host is not obligated to provide anything else for you outside his or her menu on short notice.
  9. Conversation on the following topics should be avoided: sex, politics, and value of personal property, medical conditions, age, religion and income or gossip. But where is the fun in that?! Let’s just ignore that one too.
  10. There should be no phones, computers, tablets or any other kind of portable electronic device at the dinner table. This includes showing pictures on a device of holidays, brats, ugly pets. Nine times out of ten, the other guests DO NOT CARE. Let’s talk about sex, politics, and gossip instead, okay? Food is to be eaten and not tweeted… unless you’re a blogger.



Did you pass? God knows we didn’t. Perhaps it would be best to sip tea in silence and try your best to avoid such outrageous faux pas.

Off to finishing school with you scallywags,


*Adapted from an original article by Kate Tighe for Delicious Magazine.

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Hello! We are Ginseng & Thyme, two friends and work colleagues from Manchester with a passionate affinity for food, drink and lifestyle. Here’s our food story, what’s yours? Twitter: @ginsengandthyme Instagram: @ginsengandthyme

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