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Life as a Scot in California

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Dining Etiquette

Posted by berkeleyscot on January 14, 2008

I found this article, entitled “Pupils learn which cutlery to use,” on the BBC News website. It brought back unpleasant memories and feelings of failure and inadequacy for me. But it’s not about me, because I doubt I’ll ever be in an interview/dining test situation. It seems a step backwards and excludes those who, physically, cannot meet the standards.

I actually do KNOW how to use a forknknife, but I’m physically unable to do so. This does not make me ill mannered or badly brought up.

I used to dread professional dining situations, because, if these standards of etiquette were to be rigorously applied, I was done for. None of the rules applied to me and exceptions to the rules were never mentioned. But I was often in professional dining situations and I just had to make up my own rules and ignore being ‘judged,’ by those who were forknknife sticklers. I would ask that the kitchen staff cut up my food before bringing it to me and that all utensils I wouldn’t be using be removed, so that I wasn’t cluttered.

I don’t know why so much emphasis is put on the test of dining etiquette. A hearty appetite and the curiosity to experiment with unfamiliar cuisines are surely more cheerful, as long you don’t hold a conversation with your mouth full.

Last week I had lunch with a dear friend at a Thai restaurant and she saw that I was having difficulty cutting my fishcakes. I was happy to accept her offer to help and we enjoyed our meal with no more fuss.

Don’t judge me on ‘how’ I eat, but on how heartily and gratefully I clean my plate – with a wee bit of help.

As for the waltz, I’ll leave that to the Beatles’ “Henry the Horse.”

Bon Appetit! 


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