Savoir-vivre – do you know how to serve food properly?

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Correct table setting and serving at parties shows that you are respectful to your guests. Nobody wants to make a social blunder or do something tactless. Appropriate savoir-vivre in our times seems to be an exaggeration, but it is not. Invited guests often pay attention to it and want to observe the etiquette. On the other hand, even at casual meetings in our apartment it is worth using savoir-vivre tips, because they are extremely practical.

Setting the table

We are talking here not only about the tablecloth, but also about the plates. The table setting depends on the occasion. The tablecloth used for an everyday dinner may be of a different color than white. Almost any color is allowed. There is no rule about it. On the other hand, for ceremonial parties, a white table setting should be used. The dishes on the table do not have to be porcelain, but it is good if they are of a light color. They should be arranged according to the set of dishes. The plates should not be stacked on top of each other but changed according to the type of dish served. An exception to the rule is the base plate, on which other dishes may be placed. This is a decorative gadget, for larger celebrations. The place settings for each person are arranged so that they have at least 60 cm of space

Cutlery and its arrangement

Cutlery is placed on both sides of the tableware depending on the order of dishes served. For example: for a three-course dinner, use a soup spoon, a knife and fork for the main course, a dessert fork, a dessert spoon, a wine glass, a water glass, and a napkin

Always place the knife on the right side with the blade pointing to the left. On the other side of the plate should be the fork with its belly down. The soup spoon is placed to the right of the knife. The cutlery must be arranged symmetrically and the distance between them and the edge of the table should be equal. Dessert is eaten last, so a cake spoon or a dessert fork is placed above the plate. The fork handle should be on the left side and the teaspoon handle on the right

Glasses, i.e. wine or water glasses, should be placed on the right side, above the knife, next to the dessert setting. The napkins must be placed in the center of the place setting or above the plate

Order of serving

The order in which dishes are served is as important as how they are served. Below is a savoir-vivre serving list:

  1. Cold starters.
  2. Hot starters.
  3. Soups.
  4. Fish and meat dishes.
  5. Cheese.
  6. Desserts.
  7. Fruits.
  8. Coffee and tea

Not all dishes listed are a must. Some can be omitted. Please note that coffee and tea are recommended to be served in a different room than the main courses

Behavior at the table

Behavior at the table is quite a specific topic. If we are talking about family celebrations, it should not be a big problem. Relatives can sit next to each other as they are comfortable. On the other hand, in case of an elegant party, the matter is different. The hosts should sit at two opposite ends of the table, and the invited guests should sit next to them. If there is no difference in the number of guests, women and men should sit alternately

Basic rules at the table

  1. Sit straight at the table, do not turn around and do not shuffle your chair
  2. Keep your hands on the table and not under it
  3. Do not rest your elbows on the table. If your hands are free, keep them on the table top or put your left hand on the edge of the table
  4. Do not play with the cutlery
  5. Do not wring your hands or drum your fingers on the table top
  6. Keep your legs under the table tightly. We don’t put one leg over the other or cross them.
  7. We do not stomp our feet to the music
  8. Do not take off your shoes.

The signal to end the meal is always given by the hosts. When leaving the table, we say ‘thank you’, and when leaving during the meal, we say ‘excuse me’. We never announce the reason for our temporary departure.

Main photo: Francisco De Legarreta C./

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