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Table Manners

Bread and Butter Etiquette

Bread is most often placed on the table in a basket that everyone shares.

  • If the bread is placed in front of you, feel free to pick up the basket and offer it to the person on your right.
  • If the loaf is not cut, cut a few pieces, offer them to the person to your left, and then pass the basket to your right.
  • Do not touch the loaf with your fingers, instead use the clothe in the bread basket as a buffer to steady the bread as you slice it.
  • Place the bread and butter on your butter plate - yours is on your left - then break off a bite sized piece of bread, put a little butter on it, and eat it.
  • Don't butter the whole piece of bread and then take bites from it.
  • Don't hold your bread in one hand and a drink in the other, and
  • Don't take the last piece of bread without first offering it to others.
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In some restaurants, olive oil is served with bread. Dip your bite-sized pieces of bread in the oil and eat.

Because butter is produced in rectangle form, and the butter knife is made with a dull blade to slice butter and a pointed tip to transfer cubes of butter to the plate.


Resting Utensils

Soiled utensils are laid on the plate or bowl they are provided with (not on the table). Never rest a utensil half on a plate and half on the table. The rules are different when using chopsticks.

Soup Spoons.

  • Soup Bowl. If soup or dessert is served in a deep bowl, cup, or stemmed bowl set on another plate, place your utensil(s) on this underplate when you finish. If the underplate is too small to balance the spoon, the spoon is laid in the bowl.
  • Soup Plate. If the soup is served in a soup plate (a shallow, wide bowl), leave the spoon in the bowl.

- , Editor, Etiquette Scholar

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