Although most etiquette books seem to be directed at the female reader, S. A. Frost’s Laws and By-Laws of American Society published in 1869 appears to be aimed at men. Judging from the recommendations he makes below, there were some diners who sorely needed his advice if they didn’t want to be branded with “the certain mark of ill-breeding.”
In slightly abridged form, here are 10 big mistakes he identifies that you don’t want to make while at the table in a restaurant.
1. appear to question the quality or freshness of the viands by smelling or fastidiously tasting them.
2. [ever], even with cheese, put your knife into your mouth.
3. play with your knife and fork, fidget with your salt-cellar, balance your spoon on your tumbler, [or] make pills of your bread.
4. smack the lips when eating.
5. eat as if you had good fare for the first time in your life – that is to say, do not eat ravenously.
6. take the bones of fowl or birds up in your fingers to gnaw or suck on them.
7. wipe your finger tips, if soiled, upon your tongue or the table-cloth.
8. take a long, deep breath after you finish eating, as if the exercise had fatigued you.
9. suck your teeth, or pass your tongue round the outside of your gums.
10. illustrate your remarks by plans drawn upon the table-cloth with your nail, or butt of your knife, fork and spoon.
© Jan Whitaker, 2010