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 Table Manners

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Table Manners   Sun 08 Dec 2013, 16:37

One of the most popular books from the 16th century was Galateo: The Rules of Polite Behavior (Il Galateo, overo de ‘costume), written by Giovanni della Casa – it would become a bestselling guide to proper etiquette, including how to have proper table manners, dress well and be witty in conversation.


I was interested to read that the rules of behaviour when dining haven't changed much over the intervening years,




  • “It is not polite, while at the table, to scratch your head or somewhere else. A man should also, as much as possible, avoid spitting, but if he must, he should do it discreetly.”
  • “Nor should one gnaw or chew such that you hear the sound or noises, since there is a difference between the eating of men and pigs. We must also be careful not to gobble up our food and occasion a hiccup or some other unpleasant result, as happens with people who hurry and so gasp for air or breathe so heavily that they annoy their companions.”
  • “Also, you myst not do anything to proclaim how greatly you are enjoying the food and wine, for this is the habit of tavern-keepers. To encourage those who are are at the table with you with words such as “Are you not eating this morning,” or “Is there nothing that you like,” or “Taste some of this” in my opinion is not laudable, even though the majority of people do it. Though in doing so they show concern for their guest, very often they are also the very reason why he eats so sparingly, for it will seem to him that he is being observed and so he is embarrassed.”
  • “It is inappropriate, I do believe, to offer something from one’s own plate, unless the person who is presenting it is of a much more exalted rank, whereby the person receiving it will consider this an honor. Between men of equal rank, it will seem the person offering somehow or other holds himself superior to the one receiving, and sometimes the guest may not even like to eat what was offered. Not to mention this shows that the banquet does not have sufficient dishes and that they are not evenly distributed, for one person has too much and another not enough, and this could humiliate the lord of the house. Nevertheless, in this matter we must do what is done,  and not what should be done, for it is better to blunder with others than be good alone. But whatever the case may be, you must not refuse what is brought to you, as it will seem that you either despise or rebuke the man who has brought it.”
  • “Also inappropriate is the habit of putting one’s nose over the glass of wine someone else is drinking or on top of the food others must eat, so as to smell it. Besides, I would not want someone sniff even what he himself has to drink or to eat; the reason is that from his nose could fall those things that men find disgusting, even though this is perhaps unlikely. Nor would I recommend that you offer your glass of wine to someone after you have had your lips to it and sipped, unless it were to someone more intimate than a friend. And even worse should you offer a pear or other fruit from which you have taken a bite. And don’t be looking like you consider the things discussed above trivial and of small moment, for even light blows, if they are many, can kill.”


The Galateo also includes instructions for how to talk. Under a section called The Don’ts of Conversation, Giovanni writes, “in conversation one can sin in many and various ways, starting with choice of subject: it should be neither frivolous nor vile. Listeners will not pay attention or take pleasure in it, but they will scorn the talk and the talker both. Also, one must not pick a theme too subtle or too arcane, for it is exhausting to hear. Instead, one must really diligently select a topic so that no will turn red or feel ashamed. Not should you talk about something dirty, even though it could be pretty amusing to hear, for decent people should try to please others only with respectable subjects.”


When tellings jokes, he adds, “one should not, for the sake of making someone laugh, say obscene words or indulge in such vile or perverse acts as distorting one’s face and eyes or gesticulating like a dope, for no one should debase himself in order to amuse others. This is the habit not of a gentleman but of slapstick actors and professional buffoons. So don’t imitate that vulgar, plebeian language of Dioneo: ‘Monna Aldruda, come, lift up your tail.’ Nor act like a lunatic or a numbskull, but if possible say at the proper time something clever and new, something no one else has thought of,  or else keep quiet.”

http://www.medievalists.net/2013/11/28/renaissance-table-manners/
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Sun 08 Dec 2013, 16:47

Most interesting, Id. Much of your post should be sent to all TV producers... TV is after all, a guest in our homes. And as you remark much of the above is still applicable.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Sun 08 Dec 2013, 17:21

Particularly the habit of puting one's nose over the wine and food, when from his nose could fall something that men (and women for that matter) find disgusting.

Connoisseurs on and off the telly should take note. Smile
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Sun 08 Dec 2013, 19:38

Therese,

I wanted to ask you about a discussion point with many of my culinary friends. I learned it from a Jewish man born in Liège, childhood in Antwerp and living near Brussels, a man who knew all the tricks of good table manners, a man for whom I had great esteem as a person too.

Well, he said that the right manner to take food with a fork was with the fork upside down. Most of my culinary friends said that it didn't matter.
But yes nowadays with the WWW the world is at your feet...after a quick research I found it myself:
http://www.cookingandtips.com/recipes/etiquette/europe_table_etquet.htm

Kind regards from your Belgian friend, Paul.

PS. Hope that the weather is still "good" on your Greek island. And I read today that 2014 will view Greece out of recession again. I hope that finally there will be again a future for this "battered" country.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 15:49

Hi Paul,

Yes, that is how I was taught to use a fork, upside down. I can still remember getting into trouble as a child for piling my fork (right side up) with food and shoving it into my mouth.   It is very difficult to eat peas with an upside down fork though..... Smile  

The weather is not so good, it being winter we've had many storms and I think snow is expected by Friday also. Thankyou for your kind wishes, but we heard the same predictions, that we'll be out of recession, in 2012 and 2013 so we aren't holding our breath over the newest one.

All the best, T.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 17:11

Sorry Paul but your site has a very strange idea of how to manipulate cutlery unless, when it refers to 'European', it means some benighted continental back water. *Place one's knife and fork side by side on the plate while taking a sip of wine*, I'd have got a swift crack on the knuckles for that in my house and in dear Downton the footman would whip your plate away in quick time assuming you'd finished. As for eating potatoes from the curved side of a fork, you might as well eat them off your knife and then lick it. I'm rather taken by the knife being held *in anticipation* though. In anticipation of stabbing the cook if the meat is over cooked perhaps?

Snow ID? Gosh, it was 15C here today and I'm horribly confused as to what to wear.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 20:26

Ferval,

hmm, poor human being as I am, I was so happy to find on the site, that I was right about the fork upside down that I didn't read the rest.

And yes, Continentals from the European peninsula are a "race" apart...even Americans (I mean those from the US) can't be compared with them...or it as to be Americans, who resemble Germans or Dutchmen... Twisted Evil ...note: I have nothing said about the British isles...because I can't position them very well... Wink

BTW: Ferval, have a look to "Early nationalism" if you have time.
http://historum.com/general-history/64570-early-nationalism-10.html

Kind regards and with esteem for high level discussions we had in the time,

Paul.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 23:22

"I eat my peas with honey
I've done so all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife"

Never understood WHY you should have eat peas from the convex side of the fork.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Mon 09 Dec 2013, 23:28

We eat almost all our food just with a concave fork.  When I was a child it was all eaten with a knife and fork used upside down, but I think the normal form now is what I think of as a European style or perhaps American.  At any rate it works fine, though peas still roll off, and we don't have mushy peas in NZ (though I often mash mine a little. Butter or cream with peas does no harm.)
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Tue 10 Dec 2013, 03:26

I can think of a lot of harm butter or cream would do Caro, mainly around the middle or in my case it would be all around the backside.

But mushy peas are made with dried split peas I think, not fresh.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Table Manners   Tue 10 Dec 2013, 08:49

"Fresh" garden peas only really became a feature of aspiring middle/upper class cuisine once canning and bottling was developed in the early/mid ninteenth century, and so how to correctly deal with them only became an issue then. Victorian manuals of manners state that it was permissable to eat peas, but only peas, using the fork as a scoop, or even, quel horreur, to use the blade of one's knife. The truely upper class way was with a dedicated pea spoon. Pea spoons, for those wealthy enough to afford both the spoons and the peas, (before 19th century most peas grown were the big marrowfat type and were intended to be dried for winter use), had been around since late Tudor times when small garden peas were only eaten as a rare expensive special seasonal treat. Elizabeth I was rather partial to a bowl of fresh peas with cream ... but even she could only get them when they were in season, ie about for about two weeks in the summer.
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