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, June 05, 2008

Eating Etiquette, Part IV

This is the final installment of 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. The previous posts can be found here: Part I, Part II and Part III.


Table Manners

IV. The Priss

He purses his lips when he eats - in exaggerated "refinement." He couldn't look less pleased if he were eating cyanice or castor oil.

He leaves a little of everything on his plate, in terror of appearing greedy. What a waste! If he doesn't intend to eat it, he shouldn't take it.

He daintily curves his little finger when using his cup - an affected gesture of "grace." His stagecraft is a "dead giveaway" of his interior motivation.

He is always saying that he doesn't like or "can't eat" certain foods. If he is not blessed with a catholic taste, or a genuine enjoyment of all foods strange and familiar, he should pretend that he is. The very least he can do is keep quiet about his allergies and his prejudices.

He is a hesitant, obvious copycat, making everybody else as nervous as he over which fork to use. It is not that important! If you can do it unobtrusively, it is all very well to watch your hostess or more knowledgeable guests to see how they handle certain unfamiliar dishes. But if your concentration on the fine points of etiquette is going to make you an inattentive conversationalist, shrug off your worries. It might help you to know that silver is placed on the table in the order of its use, the fork farthest from your plate, on the outside, being meant for the first fork food, the one on the inside for the last. If you are served both fork and spoon for dessert you may use both (spoon for the ice cream, say, and fork for the meringue), or you may use the fork to hold the dessert steady while you cut and eat it with the spoon, or you may simply use whichever seems more appropriate. The butter plate and glasses on your right are for you; your salad, unless served as a separate course, is on your left. But no one worth knowing will care if you use a fork when a spoon was intended, and if you don't get flustered and apologetic, no one will even notice.

He is afraied to use a knife on his salad because he's heard it's not proper. If there is a salad knife at his place, he can be sure that it is not only proper but expected. And if he can't manage the salad neatly with his fork alone, it's better to use his dinner knife than to emulate a rabbit, with lettuce hanging out of his mouth.

He transfers his fork from left hand to right after he has cut his meat, even though it is more natural for him to eat with tines-down fork in his left hand. Either way of eating is "correct." So whether you learned to eat by the Continental or the crisscross method there's no point in changing your style to fit whatever the current fashion happens to be.

In Retrospect

The comments and regulations in this and the preceding chapter on table manners cover the normal situations that may arise in the seminary refectory. You will not remember all of them by one reading any better than you will master the rubrics for the subdeacon in one session. [sic. But, coming from one who has spent time learning the subdeacon's role: oh how true.]

If you are convinced of the importance of good table manners you will do the same thing as you do with your sacristy rituals - you will read this guidebook over and over; you will consult it when in doubt; you will be so familiar with its contents that good table manners become second nature, force of habit, to you.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

The good Deacon is always a master of demonstrating his class.

Thank-you, Deacon, for the great series!

Take care, -Jeremy

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