The Bread ‘N’ Butter of Food Etiquette
If there’s one thing I know essentially nothing about – it’s food and table etiquette. While I’m not a total slob at the table or anything, I’m also no Emily Post. If you’re not familiar with Emily Post, she’s an American author who was famous for writing about etiquette. Here’s just a small sampling of something she wrote from Chapter 1 of her book Etiquette:
Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be. A knowledge of etiquette is of course essential to one’s decent behavior, just as clothing is essential to one’s decent appearance; and precisely as one wears the latter without being self-conscious of having on shoes and perhaps gloves, one who has good manners is equally unself-conscious in the observance of etiquette, the precepts of which must be so thoroughly absorbed as to make their observance a matter of instinct rather than of conscious obedience.
That’s some pretty high-brow stuff, huh? Definitely not principles I’ve lived by thus far.
But I did come across an interesting article by Lisa Grotts on the Huffington Post about bread and butter etiquette. Who knew that something as simple and classic as bread and butter had a set of rules? When I’m at a restaurant and that bread basket is brought to the table – watch out – because I’m going straight for it! You’ve got to get to the good pieces before everyone else!
But in theory, if I wanted to have a shred of decorum at the dinner table I might follow some of these rules:
• As with all food at the table, bread baskets are always passed to the right. If you are the host, pass the basket to the right but first offer it to the person on your direct left so he or she does not have to wait until the basket goes all around the table. For larger groups, there should be more than one basket on the table.
• If a basket is passed, take only one roll at a time. You can always have seconds! (I’m good here!)
• If you are served bread, place it on your bread plate, which is the small plate to the left of your dinner plate. If butter is passed, place one pat on your bread plate. If the butter is in foil, remove the foil, fold it, and place to the side of your bread plate.
• The golden rule of eating bread is to break off a small piece, hold it in your fingers (not your palm), and butter it one bite at a time, using a butter knife if one is lying on your bread plate. Never butter an entire roll all at once! (Just got to say that I can’t imagine not buttering my entire roll or slice of bread!)
• Bread may be dipped (or sopped) in gravy or soup, but be careful not to drip the liquid on your plate or clothes. (I might need work on the not making a giant mess all over myself part!)
If you love bread as much as I do, try making your very own homemade bread recipes: