Go Ahead, Push Your Food Around

Later this week, I will share some of our escapades from what I’m calling Holly Jolly Adventure 2010 — a weekend excursion to the Twin Cities in the midst of a blizzard — but since I’m pressed for time today, here’s another excerpt from “Emily Post Mealtime Etiquette” circa 1963. This comes from a section titled “Miscellaneous Do’s and Don’ts.”

Do feel free to use a pusher (?) to help get those last few bites of food onto your fork. This may be a piece of bread or cracker, or it may be the blade of your knife. If you use your knife as your pusher, hold it in your left hand as you would in your right for cutting. Never use fingers as a pusher.

Do try to eat all the food on your plate. To do so helps to compliment the hostess; to fail to do so might be inconsiderate of her feelings and wasteful of food as well. But do not scrape the plate to get the very last bit.

Do tell your hostess the meal was wonderful, if you have thoroughly enjoyed it. Avoid being overly effusive; it might embarrass her. But feel sure that she will be pleased to hear a genuine compliment.

Don’t ever wipe off tableware in anyone’s home. This is the worst kind of an insult and is simply inexcusable, regardless of the circumstances. If a piece of silver is so bad you simply cannot bear to use it, be “awkward” and drop it on the floor as if by accident so that it will have to be replaced.

Don’t stir foods together on your plate, or have foods floating in gravy or other sauces.

Don’t announce that you are through when you have finished with the course. Such an announcement is not a cute trick with children and should not be encouraged. Children, as well as adults, should know that placing silverware across the center of the plate is indication enough that you have finished and that your plate may be removed.