Formal dining survival tips
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 4:25 p.m.
Our casual dining lifestyles can make a formal dining experience filled with awkward moments. And etiquette and manners are important in international business entertaining.
Let's start with a place setting: two forks to the left of the plate; a knife and two spoons to the right. Above the forks is the bread plate; a butter knife may be lying across its upper edge. Far left is the salad fork (shorter handle and tines). The closest fork is for entrée/main courses.
To the right of the plate is the entrée knife, used for salad/main course. To the right of it is a teaspoon for a variety of selections; and to the far right is the soup spoon, with its round-shaped bowl. The fork and spoon above the plate are for desserts.
A general rule is to use the utensils from the outside in. Glasses stand in a row — from left to right for water, red wine and white wine.
Other implements provided by the staff will include steak knives and utensils for snails, crab, etc. When you lay down utensils, put them entirely on the plate. If you want to rest/speak, put your fork, with the knife crossing it (an X position), in the middle of the plate. If you are finished, place the knife and fork on the rim of the plate, next to each other, diagonally, from the "5" position to 10 o'clock.
Note: American-style eating has the fork changed from one hand to the other after cutting food, while continental style has both utensils in hands and no switching.
If you order wine, the bottle is normally presented for approval. Then it's opened, and the cork given to you. About one ounce of wine will be poured for tasting, and if you like it, the rest of the glasses will be filled, ending with yours.
Dining no-nos include talking while eating, chewing with your mouth open, answering phone calls, blowing your nose with your napkin, or applying cosmetics.
Our fast-food society has made some people forget to say "please" when ordering. They also may be unfamiliar with dishes and terms for upscale cuisine. Here is a brief guide.
Au jus: (pronounced oh-joo) means with its natural juices
Béarnaise: egg-yolk sauce with tarragon
Bisque: thick, creamy soup
Caviar: fish eggs
Chateaubriand: center cut of beef tenderloin
Coulis ("coolee") is a sweet/savory sauce
Etouffée: stew normally served over rice
Gazpacho: cold vegetable soup
Hollandaise: egg-yolk sauce with lemon juice
Jerk seasoning: native to Jamaica, can be spicy
Langoustines: small lobsters
Mornay: cheese sauce
Mousses: desserts that are light and airy
Polenta: a dish made of boiled cornmeal
Prawns: generally large shrimp
Proscuitto: dry, cured ham
Ratatouille: not the Disney rat, but a dish of tomatoes and vegetables
Tartare (as in steak tartare) means raw
Truffles: can be chocolate confections or the haute cuisine fungi that costs about $200 an ounce
Vichychoisse: chilled potato soup
Claudine Dervaes has more than 33 years of experience in the travel industry. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.