Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Place Setting

Once you are seated, a bewildering display of stuff will undoubtedly confront you. What faces you is an organized table, not a malicious rebus designed to befuddle you. Think of a place setting as a chart—a chart that will guide you safely through the meal.
First, look at the silverware, also known as flatware. Start at the outside and move inward as the courses arrive. Accordingly, you can usually tell the number of courses to be served by taking a good look at the flatware. (At a very formal dinner, however, the server might replace the flatware before serving each course.)
You’ll probably see the following arrangement:
  • Knives and spoons are on the right.
  • Forks and napkins are on the left.
  • Glassware/crystal is on the right.
  • Side plates, such as a salad plate or bread-and-butter plate, are on the left. Now you are master of the universe, Arthur of the Round Table. As each course comes and goes, you will remain relaxed and confident. And, having solved the place-setting rebus, the basic rules of dealing with silverware are easy to master:
  • After you pick up a piece of silverware, it never touches the tabletop again.
  • You do not “tip” or lean silverware against your plate. Instead, place the knife and fork right on the plate when you’re not using them. Make sure that the blade of the knife always faces you.
  • Spoons used for coffee or tea belong on the saucer beside the cup.

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