We live in such a fast-food world these days that you may have forgotten your table manners. But pushing food onto your fork with your finger, or reaching over someone’s plate for the salt is not only uncouth, it shows you don’t care what the person you’re dining with thinks of you. So use these tips the next time you’re on a date, at dinner with the boss, meeting your in-laws for a bite, or with your children – so they can see how civilized people break bread. They come from The Finishing Academy in England whose motto is “Teaching Life’s Essentials”.

  • Never pick up a dinner roll and bite it. Break off one piece of bread at a time and butter it individually. Take some butter from the dish and put it on the side of your plate. And no mopping up the spaghetti sauce with your roll. You don’t need to wipe your plate clean with a roll and then shove it in your mouth.
  • Bring the fork to your mouth – do not hunch over and bring your mouth to the fork.
  • If your soup’s almost gone, tip the bowl away from you and scoop up the last bits by scooping your spoon away from you too.
  • According to the Finishing Academy, you may not ask for seconds. Ever. Sorry.
  • Ditto on the hot sauce. If the host felt the dish needed Tabasco, she would have put it on the table.
  • If you can’t get the last bit of food on your fork without using your finger to push it on, you don’t need that last bit of food.
  • And here’s one last one for real gentlemen: A gentleman must offer water to the people on his immediate left and right. Next he should inquire whether anyone in his vicinity needs bread, salt, pepper, or any other condiment on the table. Then, and only then, can he hold his fork, tine side down, and start eating.