A Guide to Good Table Manners
The general rule: Start from the outside and work your way in toward the plate as the meal progresses. Usually the big fork is for the entrée; the big spoon, for the soup. Any utensils placed horizontally above your plate are meant for dessert. “With different textural elements on one plate―puddles, solids―one utensil won’t necessarily serve all well,” says Alan Richman, a contributing writer for GQ. “I tend to grab what is functional.” When in doubt, “the host and hostess should be your guides,” says Dupree. “Use whatever they are using.” At a restaurant, everyone at the table might be stumped. William Grimes, former restaurant critic for the New York Times, once encountered “a strange device that looked like a medical plunger mechanism.” (He later learned that it was meant for handling a single stalk of asparagus.) “If you can’t tell what something is for, then it isn’t much of a tool, and it’s fine not to use it,” he says.