There is no situation in which one's good breeding is so much in evidence as at the table. For that reason, mothers should begin to train their children in infancy to correct usage. As soon as a child is able to hold a spoon and fork, he should be taught how to hold them properly, and the training should be continued until the right habit is established.
One should not be seated until the lady of the house is seated, unless especially requested to do so. Children should observe this rule as rigidly as that which requires the removal of the hat on entering the house.

At the Table

On being seated, the napkin is unfolded and laid across the lap. It is more correct to only unfold one-half, that is, open it at the center fold. One is not supposed to require further protection than from the accidental crumb. On no account should it be used as a bib, or be tucked in the dress or waistcoat.
Grape fruit is eaten from an orange spoon. If oysters are served raw, they must not be cut but eaten whole.
Soup must be taken from the side of the spoon, quietly, with no hissing or other sound, nor should the spoon be so full that it drips over. The motion of the spoon in filling it, is away from instead of towards the person; and tilting the plate to secure the last spoonful is bad form.
Crackers are never served with soup: croutons--small squares of bread toasted very hard and brown, or small H. & P. biscuits are passed. These are never put into the soup, but are eaten from the hand. Neither soup nor fish should be offered the second time.
Fish is generally eaten with a fork and a bit of bread, though silver fish knives are in occasional use. The entree which follows the fish should be eaten with the fork only. A mouthful of meat is cut as required; it is never buried in potato or any vegetable and then conveyed to the mouth. Vegetables are no longer served in "birds' bath-tubs," as some wit once called the individual vegetable dishes, but are cooked sufficiently dry to be served on the plate with the meat. All vegetables are eaten with the fork, so also jellies, chutney, etc., served with the meat course.

Using the Fork

The fork laid farthest from the plate is to be used for the first course requiring such a utensil; the others are used in their order. The knife is held in the right hand; by the handle, not the blade. The fork should not be held like a spoon, or a shovel, but more as one would hold a pencil or pen; it is raised laterally to the mouth. The elbow is not to be projected, or crooked outward, in using either knife or fork; that is a very awkward performance. The fork should never be over-burdened. The knife is never lifted to the mouth; it is said that "only members of the legislature eat pie with a knife nowadays." The handle of neither knife or fork may rest on the table nor the former be laid across the edge of the plate.
Tender meat, like the breast of chickens, may be cut with the fork. A bone is never taken in the fingers, the historic anecdote about Queen Victoria to the contrary notwithstanding. The table manners of the twentieth century are not Early Victorian. Olives and celery are correctly laid on the bread-and-butter plate. The former is never dipped in one's salt cellar; a small portion of salt is put on the edge of the plate; both are eaten from the fingers.

Vegetables, Fruits, etc.
Green corn is seldom served on the cob at ceremonious dinners. If it is served, it is to be broken in medium-sized pieces and eaten from the cob, a rather messy process, and one not pretty to observe. The fastidious avoid it. If eaten, the piece is held between the fingers of one hand. To take an unbroken ear in both hands and gnaw the length of it suggests the manners of an animal never named in polite society.
It is correct to take up asparagus by the stalk, and eat it from the fingers, but the newer and more desirable custom is to cut off the edible portion with knife and fork. Lettuce is never cut with a knife; a fork is used, the piece rolled up and conveyed to the mouth.
Hard cheese may be eaten from the fingers; soft cheeses, like Neufchatel, Brie, and the like, are eaten with the fork, or a bit is spread on a morsel of bread and conveyed to the mouth with the fingers.
A soft cake is eaten with a fork. The rule is that whatever can be eaten with a fork shall be so eaten.
Roman punch and sherbets require a spoon. Berries, peaches and cream, custards, preserves, jellies, call for the spoon. Strawberries are often served as a first course in their season. They are then arranged with their hulls and a portion of stem left on, dipped in powdered sugar and eaten from the fingers. A little mound of the sugar is pressed into shape in the center of the small plate and the berries laid around it.
Peaches, pears, and apples are peeled with the fruit knife, cut in quarters or eighths, and eaten from the fingers. Bananas are stripped of the skin, cut in pieces with a fork and eaten from it. Oranges are cut in two across the sections and eaten with an orange spoon. Plums, like olives, are eaten by biting off the pulp without taking the stone in the mouth. Pineapple, unless shredded or cut up, requires both knife and fork; it is usually prepared for more convenient eating. Grapes, which should be washed by letting water from the faucet run over them and laid on a folded towel until the moisture drips off, are eaten from behind the half-closed hand, which receives the skins and seeds, then to be deposited on the plate.
If the small cup of coffee--the demi-tasse--is served, the small after-dinner coffee spoon is necessary. Cream is seldom served with the black coffee--cafe noir--with which a meal concludes, cut loaf sugar is passed.

The Spoon
The spoon must never be left in the cup, no matter what beverage is served. Most of us have seen some absent-minded individual (we will charitably suppose him absent-minded instead of ignorant), stir his coffee round and round and round, creating a miniature whirlpool and very likely slopping it over into the saucer; then, prisoning the spoon with a finger, drink half the cup's contents at a gulp. To do this is positively vulgar. Stir the coffee or tea very slightly, just enough to stir the cream and sugar with it, then drink in sips. To take either from the teaspoon is bad form. Bread is broken, not cut, and only a small portion buttered at a time. Do not play with bread crumbs or spoon, etc., during the progress of a meal.
Leave knife and fork on the plate, handles side by side, when it is passed for a second helping, and at a conclusion of a course, or the meal, lay them in the same position, points of the fork upward.

Finger Bowls

When finger bowls are brought, the tips of the fingers are dipped in the bowl and dried on the napkin. Men may lift the moistened fingers to the lips; women seldom do this, but wipe the lips with the napkin. At any function the napkin is not folded, but laid at the side of the plate at the conclusion of the repast. If a guest for a day or so, or for more than one meal, note what your hostess does with her napkin and follow her. If a guest at only one meal, never fold the napkin. Be careful not to throw it down so carelessly that it is stained with coffee, fruit, or fruit juices; your hostess will thank you for your consideration.
Be ready to rise when your hostess rises; you do not push your chair into place; simply rise and leave it. Rise on the side of your chair so you will not have to go around it in following your hostess to the drawing room.

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