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How to Eat

HG Entertains

How to Eat

Eat with Ease

With so much conversation going on these days about what to eat, there’s surprisingly little talk about how to eat.  As a result, there’s been a dearth of knowledge shared across cultures and generations about how one should behave at the table.  Adding insult to injury, a lack of awareness about how to eat means many are being judged by their table manners without even realizing it.  We believe there’s an argument for avoiding subtle table manner violations.  At its core, knowing how to eat is about respect and common courtesy.  It’s also an important business tool.  But most significantly, understanding dining protocol makes time spent with others around a table more enjoyable.  So join us by starting up your own conversation about how to eat, and don’t forget the little ones.  Good habits are formed early in life and you’ll steer them towards greater confidence and social ease.  As the saying goes, Manners Maketh Man.

Sweet Refresher


If you’re not sure why there’s both a spoon and fork at the top of your plate, know that they were placed there for a reason.  The dessert spoon and dessert fork are intended for dishes that include both solids and liquids, such as cake and ice cream, or pie with whipped cream.  Always eat with the spoon, and use the fork – tines down - to help push the food onto your spoon. No fingers necessary.

European or American?


Are you using your knife and fork properly? These two presiding styles considered appropriate.

American Style 


The American style involves cutting your food by holding the knife in your right hand and your fork in the left hand with the fork tines holding the food to the plate. You then lay your knife across the plate and change your fork from your left to your right hand to eat, fork tines facing up. This American style came to the United States with British colonists and took hold. Ironically, American etiquette expert Emily Post was not fan and found it counterintuitive.

European Style


The European or Continental style is the same as the American style in that you cut your meat by holding your knife in your right hand while securing your food with your fork in your left hand. But, your fork remains in your left hand, tines facing down, and the knife in your right hand.

Conversation Starters

Good conversation is as central to a successful dinner party as is good food, wine and flowers, yet it’s an area that often gets the least planning.  A little forethought can go a long way next time you host or attend a dinner, and there can only be upside.  You may be rescuing an introvert from social anxiety, preventing a narcissist from talking about him or herself all evening, or at best, stimulating conversations that lead to the most memorable gatherings. After all, the point is to make connections, so consider these tools to make the most of your next party:

Ask questions. If you ever suffer from performance anxiety in social settings, the fastest way out is to ask questions.  People love to talk about themselves and by asking questions you eliminate the pressure to hold the conversation.

Compliment your host.  If the food is delicious, say so.  You’ll not only please the person who made it, it’s an opportunity to start a whole new conversation around a topic some of us never tire of:  food.

Ask open-ended questions.  Try to avoid talking too much about yourself or your companion.  Less self-centered topics will lead to more interesting conversation and avoid the dialogue turning one-sided.  You may find your children fascinating, but does your companion?  Questions such as “if you could invite anyone in the world to be here tonight, who would it be” can open up an entire evening’s worth of fun and engaging dialogue.

Don’t be afraid of a little debate. Religion and politics have sadly become out of style at dinner parties, but a good debate can and should spark engagement, thought and learning.  Just be wary of polarizing your party and know when to move on if anyone becomes uncomfortable.

No-Fail Hostess Gifts

Looking for a gift to bring to your next dinner party? Here are some suggestions “trending” right now at Hopson Grace.