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manners MATTER More Table Talk BY KAREN LA CORTE T hank you for all your positive feedback on my articles! My last article had epic responses from you readers. In our fast-paced lifestyle, it’s good to know that basic manners still hold an important place for you. Last issue I wrote about Basic Table Settings. There are many variations to the examples that I gave depending on formality and space on your table. Along with a proper table setting, there are two styles of eating. The Europeans eat their food with the left hand. The fork is in the left hand and the knife in the right, a piece of food such as meat is cut and placed in the mouth without changing the fork from its upside-down position. This is also called the Continental Style. The American Style suggests that you place the knife on the right edge of your plate with blades facing in, after the food is cut, then transferring the fork to the right hand, fork tines up in the process. In either style, cut your food into only ONE bite-sized piece at a time. Left-handed folks should use the knife and fork in a way that is most comfortable for them. Once used, your utensils, including the handles, should not touch the table again. Always rest forks, knives, and spoons on the side of your plate or in the bowl. Resting Position Karen La Corte is an etiquette and manners expert trained and certi- fied by the Emily Post Institute in Vermont. She has been teaching eti- quette and manners to children and adults for over thirty years. She is also a certified image and fashion consultant. Karen is happy to answer any personal etiquette or image questions you may have by emailing her at Kids often ask me what to do with your utensils if you should leave the table at a restau- rant. This is most important if you don’t want the waiter to assume you are finished with your meal, therefore removing your plate. One young man said, “Mrs. LaCorte, should I take my fork with me to the bath- room?” I was always taught to place my fork upside down at an angle. A more formal resting position is to place your utensils in a V pattern on your plate if you need to be excused. Fork tines down if eating Continental Style, fork tines up if eating American Style. Fork would be placed to the left of the plate, knife to the right with the sharp edge facing in. Once again in a V pattern. Another variation to the Resting Position is that your fork and knife can be crossed like an X. Finished Position When the course is finished, rest your fork, tines up or down, and knife, blade in, with the handles resting at five o’clock, and tips pointing to ten o’clock on your plate. If eating only with a fork, 88 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017 place the fork tines up, diagonally on the plate in the manner I just mentioned. Foods You Can Eat With Your Fingers Appetizers, Artichokes (use your knife and fork when you get to the heart), Asparagus (unless covered in sauce), Bacon (very crisp), Bread, Cookies, Corn on the cobb, Potato chips, French fries, Hamburger sandwiches (please halve or quarter), Canapes, Crudité’s, Olives, Pickles, Nuts, Deviled Eggs, Cheese and crackers, Shrimp with a tail, Cakes (such as petit fours), small fruits and berries on the stem (strawberries with the hulls on) (cherries with stems, or grapes in bunches), other fruits – apples & pears are quartered first, apricot, peach or plum expelling pit in cupped hand then putting the pit on your plate, Sushi, Chicken wings, Pizza. If you are in a restaurant or a formal situation, you need to use your discretion with finger food. A lamb lollipop is great to eat with your fingers as a passed appetizer, but would certainly be eaten with a fork and knife as an entrée. When you leave the table, napkins are placed, crumpled, on the left side of the plate. If you are leaving the table temporarily, the napkin may be placed to the left of the plate loosely folded or placed on your chair. A very popular question I get from women is where to put your purse. Never put your purse on the table (or gloves, sunglasses, etc.) Your purse should be placed on your lap, a spare chair, or on the floor. A light lipstick repair may be done at the table, but all major repairs should be done in the privacy of the powder room. Coats, wraps and shawls can be checked in with the maître d, given to the waiter to hang, or taken to the table with you and placed on a free chair or the back of yours. This manner of eating is only a suggestion. It is nice to know if you are dining out in a fine restaurant for business or a social occasion. No matter which style of eating you prefer, just be consistent. So, what is your style? American or Continental?