Shape it Up

My Plate, My Rules


Etiquette can be defined as the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

There is a whole world of rules or acceptable ways of carrying out one self when faced with different situations.

The society by default expects you to adapt and behave as such or you would be termed as uncultured, clumsy or uncouth.

There is etiquette for;

  • Writing emails
  • How to behave at a wedding, funeral and parties
  • Office etiquette
  • Phone etiquette
  • Business etiquette
  • Social etiquette

Have you ever thought of how you would carry yourself in a situation where you have been invited to dinner or you are at a restaurant for an important occasion? Are you sophisticated enough to handle the situation or will you struggle to fit in?  Will you get confused when the waiter makes the presentation of the types of soups available for an appetizer or black out when the main course is presented to you?

I am reminded of a time we held a lubricant workshop in a 3 star hotel in Kisumu for all the mechanics and distributors of our lubricants in the area. When meal time arrived and everyone had been ushered in to the eating area, there was laughter from various corners as spoons, forks and what not  dropped from the table as a  few individuals struggled to work the cutlery that was presented to surmount the arduous task that was  before them(at least that’s how it felt, like a battle). I overhead someone advice the other ‘tumia tu mkono’.It was hilarious.

Remember you never know who might be watching you; it might be your next boss or business partner or your next big account or spouse, whichever way you want to slice it, there’s an image you will project knowingly or unknowingly. Believe you me there are people who really take such things seriously and you might miss an opportunity if and when you fall short.

Dining Rules

Table manners were designed to keep people from scarfing food down like animals, so learn them before you eat with others. Most people are not even aware of what manners they should be keeping in mind and that is the main reason why they are unable to act in a proper manner. There is a distinct difference between those people who have good table manners and those who do not.

No matter how educated you are, if your manners are not good, then sadly no one will be able to respect you.

Here are some essential dining etiquette rules that you should follow:

  • Turn off your cell phone before sitting down. It is rude to talk on your phone or text while in the company of others.
  • Never talk when you have food in your mouth. That’s just gross. Even if someone asks you a question, wait until you swallow before answering.
  • Taste your food before you add salt, pepper, or other seasoning. Doing otherwise may be insulting to the host or hostess. If you are dining with a prospective employer, the person may perceive you as someone who acts without knowing the facts.
  • Don’t cut all your food before you begin eating. Cut one or two bites at a time.
  • Never blow on your food. If it is hot, wait a few minutes for it to cool off. Scoop your soup away from you.
  • Some foods are meant to be eaten with your fingers. Follow the lead of the host or hostess. If in a restaurant, do research before.
  • If you are drinking from a stemmed glass, hold it by the stem.
  • Break your bread into bite-sized pieces and butter only one bite at a time.
  • Try at least one or two bites of everything on your plate, unless you are allergic to it.
  • Compliment the hostess if you like the food, but don’t voice your opinion if you don’t.
  • Use your utensils for eating, not gesturing.
  • Keep your elbows off the table. Rest the hand you are not using in your lap.
  • Eat slowly and pace yourself to finish at the same approximate time as the host or hostess.
  • Avoid burping or making other rude sounds at the table.
  • If you spill something at a restaurant, signal one of the servers to help. If you spill something at a private dinner party in someone’s home, pick it up and blot the spill. Offer to have it professionally cleaned if necessary.
  • When you finish eating, leave your utensils on your plate or in your bowl.
  • Never use a toothpick or dental floss at the table.
  • You may reapply your lipstick, but don’t freshen the rest of your makeup at the table.

Sometimes when you find yourself in such situations, keep it simple, eat the food that you know and if you have the appetite for adventure ,ask the waiter what the food item is, and what the ingredients are, lest you eat something that you are allergic to and we say locally..ziku rarukie!