Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Eating Etiquette, Part I

I hereby begin a four part series from the same Social Manual for Seminarians by Rev. Thomas Case and Rev. Leo Gainor, O.P, that I have quoted from previously. This time on eating. It's long, but definitely worth it.


Table Manners

When eating, the idea is to do it neatly, quietly, and all but incidentally. If anything bothers you about table manners, put the question to these three tests. If the technique (1) makes a mess, (2) makes a noise, (3) calls attention to the fact that you are determined to stuff yourself, it’s bad manners.

A fourth general "don't" assumes equal importance: don’t be prissy. Don’t cock your little finger or pat-pat your pursed mouth daintily with your napkin.

The way you eat is a matter of habit. If your unconscious eating habits are unattractive even your best friend (or closest classmate) won’t tell you.

But you can tell; watch yourself for these signs of the four scourges of the dining table. But also read carefully for the correct eating habits.

Here art the four scourges: (1) the Slob; (2) the Racketeer; (3) the Pig; (4) the Priss. Each will be described in detail.

Four Horrible Examples

I. The Slob

He ties his napkin around his neck or tucks it into his vest. The napkin belongs on your lap during a meal, as stated in the preceding chapter.

Do not permit overseas students or pretentious epicureans to impress you by citing how the napkin is used in London, Paris, and Rome. The simple and inflexible rule for you in the U. S. A. is the napkin on your lap!

He leaves a sample of every course on the rim of his drinking glass. He sins on two counts; he drinks when his mouth is not empty, and he neglects to use his napkin before using the glass.

He makes every mouthful a full course meal in miniature (and not so miniature at that). In stead, of course, he should take small bites, chewing and swallowing each bite before he takes the next.

He should keep separate foods separate on his plate, if that’s the way they were intended. Sauces and gravies may be poured directly onto the food for which they were intended, but jellies, condiments, and all other accessories should be put on the plate in virgin state, only then to be spread on the bread or forked onto meat in bite-sized portions.

He forms a bridge from table to plate with his knife and fork when they are not in use — with handles on cloth, working ends propped on plate. Beware of this fault! As stated before (in the preceding chapter) nothing will betray your lack of social grace so quickly as this faux pas. Place your knife and fork flat on the plate when they are not on active duty.

He spits out anything he doesn't like. (You don't have to eat the inedible, of course, and if you must remove something from your mouth, first be sure that it bears no resemblance to regurgitated food, then grasp and remove it with your fingers — that's the quickest way. Correctly you could take it out with the same spoon or fork it went in on, but this maneuver is too acrobatic for grace in most instances, and it runs dangerously close to spitting. Actually you can cut it out bones and stones before they get into your mouth. And you can manfully swallow something that offends your palate.)

He breaks saltines into his soup! As a rule if a cracker is meant to go into the soup, it is meant to go in whole. But put oyster crackers first on your butter plate or on the cloth, then drop them into your soup, whole, a few at a time. Croutons are spooned directly into the soup. Saltines are place on your butter plate and are munched between spoonfuls of soup.

Remember, never break saltines into the soup. No other table fault will catalogue your cultural status quicker than this one breach of convention. If you have already acquired this gauche trait "break it" at once before it "turn state evidence" on you!

He eats messy things with his fingers. The best way to decide when to pick food up with your fingers is to decide in advance whether you can do it neatly. Picnics are something else again, of course, and some foods like lobsters are messy whatever your modus operandi, but with neatness as your guide you can't go far wrong. This neatness guide works both ways: it's neater to pick up an ear of corn than to watch it skitter across the plate as you try to cut it; it is neater to leave the hard stalk of asparagus if you can't cut it with a fork as you did the tips. And if an approach by hand seems indicated, as with a sandwich or a piece of fresh fruit, it is neater to cut it into manageable sections before you pick it up.

He puts soiled silver on the table. He spoons coffee from cup into mouth, or leaves the spoon in the cup. He does the dishwashing or silver plishing at the table. If the implement is really not clean, ignore it as you would a hair in your soup. (In a restaurant, of course, you may ask for another fork or send the soup back.)

He puts his mouth into the food instead of the food into his mouth. You hsouldn't meet your food even halfway. You bring it up to your erect head' you don't duck down to meet it coming up. He shoves spaghetti into his mouth with loose ends dangling instead of rolling it on his fork.

He talks with his mouth full; gesticulates and point with his eating tools; blows on his food, instead of waiting quitely for it to cool enough to eat; he dunks his toast or rolls into his coffee.

He cleans his teeth at table — with toothipick or fingernail; by sucking at them or by running his tongue around his teeth, with grimaces.

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