It is the way we conduct ourselves at the dinner table that leaves a lasting impression on those around us, especially at social gatherings.
What is the right posture that one needs to have while at the table?
One should sit in an upright posture while at the dinner table and not hunch or lean over the table. Remember also to not rest the elbows on the table or place the purse/mobile on the dinner table; as it is considered inappropriate.
Where does one put one's napkin?
As one sits down at the table remember to pick up the napkin placed in front and lay it upon the lap and use it as needed. Remember to always use the napkin after taking a bite. If one leave's the table for a few moments during the meal, place the napkin on the chair. At the end of the meal, leave the napkin semi-folded at the left side of the plate.
Does one begin to eat the food as soon as it is served?
One should start eating when the food is served to all members and the host or hostess, settles down and picks up their fork to eat. It is very essential to keep pace with the party while eating.
How does one drink the soup?
Drink the soup taking the spoon away from you, then towards you and sip from the side. When you have finished the soup, always place the spoon in the saucer under the soup bowl and not in the bowl itself.
Can one eat with one's hands during a formal dinner?
At formal dinners most items of food is not eaten with fingers. There are exceptions, like bite size portions of meat or something small like peanuts that can be eaten with fingers. Meat with bones in them, like chicken legs/wings, can be picked up and eaten but something large like a chicken breast with the bone should be eaten with a fork and knife/spoon.
Is it considered correct to make conversation while at the table?
It is recommended to make polite conversation, without discussing anything controversial like religion, politics, sex etc. Conversation is usually made with the people sitting beside you and with the ones across you only if the table is small, say at a table of four.
Can one load different kinds of dishes on the plate?
Preferably one should not take helpings of more than two / three dishes at a time along with the breads/rice. It is really not necessary to taste each and every dish, but one must finish everything on the plate.
Which fork and knife to use?
The forks and the knives to be used are different for different kinds of cuisines/dishes and as per the course and the kind of food served. It needs special training to understand the difference between a meal knife and a fish knife; hence it is better to trust the host to have laid them out appropriately. Start with the outer most cutlery and work your way inwards as the courses are served. The table is set with the forks on the left side and the spoons and knives on the right side. For instance, the fork for the salad would be kept at the extreme left, while the soup spoon will be kept at the extreme right. In the same way, the spoon and fork for the dessert would be kept closest to the plate.