Napkins, “Going Green”, and Manners

Taken from inside Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria...
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In a recent post I talked about using cloth napkins versus paper napkins when we are trying to “go green” in our kitchens. By eliminating disposables we make one small mark in this vast sea of waste and consumption.

Did you know that people did not always use napkins at the table?

At one time, in very early history, people wiped their hands on pieces of bread. Later, they used handkerchiefs, or small pieces of material, to wipe their foreheads when it was hot and to blot their lips at the table. For a period of time, people just wiped their hands on anything that was available – their pants, the back of their hands, or whatever.

Later, during medieval banquets, tables were covered with many elaborate vessels for holding food. A servant would carry a towel for the lord and honored guests to use in wiping their hands.

Forks came into use in the eightenth century by all classes of society. Napkins varied in size from covering the entire front of a person to smaller sizes. Eventually napkins about the size of our present style became part of the table appointment.

Now, when we sit down at the table, the first thing we generally do is open the napkin halfway and place it on our lap. If you have to leave the table during the meal, the napkin is placed on the chair. We never put the used napkin on the table during the meal. And we never use the napkin for anything except to wipe mouth and hands. At the end of the meal, the napkin is loosely placed on the table to the left of the plate.

That’s our little napkin story for today. I hope you have a good day!

Chef Crombie

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Good Table Manners

Table manners are very noticeable in a restaurant or any public eating place. Perhaps you have been around children who were much too noisy at the table. It was hard to enjoy your food.

I had dinner with my 14 year old nephew at a nice restaurant recently. When we were shown to our table, he stood behind his mother’s chair to seat her. He told the waitress “yes, please” and “thank you” when asked a question. I could tell that the waitress was surprised and very impressed. I had the feeling she didn’t hear this very often.

Want to impress the waitress (and your parents and others as well)?

Here are ten table manners as found in Amy Houts’ book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun. Good manners and good table etiquette make a difference to others and hopefully are important to you, too.

1. Come to the table with clean hands.
2. Chew with your mouth closed.
3. Wait until everyone is served before you start to eat if it is a small group.
4. Don’t talk while chewing.
5. Don’t interrupt while others are talking.
6. Ask someone to pass food rather than reaching in front of others for it. Don’t forget “please” and “thank you”.
7. Don’t eat noisily.
8. Use your napkin. Never, ever blow your nose in your napkin!
9. Ask “May I please be excused?” when you want to leave the table.
10. Talk about pleasant subjects while at the table.

Our life styles have become more casual and informal. Table etiquette guidelines, too, have become more relaxed from former times. However, good manners never go out of style. They are based on being considerate of others.