Eating Etiquette

eatingEating soup

When eating soup, you should hold your spoon in your right hand and tip the bowl away from you, scooping the soup in movements away from yourself. Only fill the spoon ¾ full. The soup spoon should never be put into the mouth, but soup should be sipped from the side of the spoon and not slurped.Bring the spoon to your lips – don’t bend to meet it. If the soup is too hot let it cool in the bowl, do not blow on it.

Eating bread rolls

Take one roll from the bread basket, take as much butter as you will require for the whole roll from the butter dish and put this on the side of your plate.  It is considered vulgar to bite into bread, break off a small piece of the roll or slice of bread – don’t cut it. Butter only the piece of bread you are preparing to eat over your plate. Finish eating that piece before you break off another piece. Place your knife on the bread plate in between bites.

Eating salad

If salad is served with a main course it is best placed on a separate salad plate to prevent any salad dressing mixing with the gravy or sauce. Large pieces of lettuce or other salad greens can be cut with a knife and fork. It is better to fold the lettuce if possible rather than cut the leaves. If you must cut the leaves don’t cut them into smaller pieces all at one time.

Eating a whole fish

Trout is often presented whole with the head attached. Remove the head by placing your knife under the gills, and cutting through the flesh to the other side. When eating a whole fish work down one side of the spine at a time, from head to tail. Never turn the fish over to reach the flesh on the underside – lift the entire bone up and gently ease the flesh out from beneath. Small bones should be removed from the mouth with fingers and placed on the side of the plate. Filleted fish is eaten with a knife and fork.

Eating meat

When eating meat, always cut and eat one small piece at a time avoid sawing the meat to cut it up. You do not need to put your knife on your plate while eating. If you are eating American style, you may put your knife down, switch your fork to your other hand and eat your bite.

Eating puddings

When eating a pudding the spoon is used to cut the food and the fork should be placed in the mouth with the food on. There is some debate when it comes to eating soft puddings such as custard and ice cream. Some etiquette trainers insist that the spoon should not be put in the mouth and others say it is fine to put the spoon in the mouth.

Eating spaghetti

Hold a few strands against the edge of the plate with the end of your fork and twist the fork to wrap the spaghetti around the prongs. When you have a nice neat coil, get as much to your mouth as possible don’t suck or slurp your spaghetti.


Sorbet is served between courses to cleanse the palate; it is eaten with a small spoon and usually served in small chilled glasses.


Any butter, spreads or dips should be transferred from the serving dish to your plate before spreading or eating. With the exception of toast, do not butter your bread all at once. Instead, tear off small pieces and butter them as you eat. Place your knife on the bread plate between bites.

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Good Luck


About the author

Ellen is our Business & Social Etiquette Blogger. You can reach Ellen on: Etiquette and Manners, Facebook, Linked In

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