Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Pass the gravy and a COVID-19 test, please | Family

Thanksgiving offers plenty of opportunities to showcase a sumptuous meal, an imaginative table, and our best table manners. This year, due to the long pandemic break, many friends and family are gathering for the first time.

Collecting is difficult as COVID-19 numbers rise, but some reunions and traditions will not stop. I encourage hosts and guests to have a conversation about expectations and limits. Hosts have the right to require guests to be vaccinated or tested negative. Guests have the right to know the status of the people they will be dining with. There’s no denying that this is an awkward topic to talk about when issuing an invitation, but in the COVID-19 era it’s a topic of daily conversation so we’re adjusting.

First, clarify this so that your invitees can make alternative arrangements if necessary. Second, you need to be respectful, yet firm, in your demeanor. A phone call is advisable for sensitive matters like this. You can say, “This may sound awkward or personal, but this year we are proceeding very carefully and only invite vaccinated or COVID-tested guests.”

They could include wearing masks, social distancing, or alfresco dining. Details are important as guests may find the occasion too strict or too relaxed.

If you find that you and an invited guest have different circumstances or opinions, don’t compromise, just be empathetic. Both parties can respond with, “It looks like we’ll have to find another time and way to meet. I am so disappointed that we are still getting through this difficult time. ”Another possibility:“ I’m sorry. This is the choice we make for the health of our family and I want you to be safe too. “

Follow Zoom invites, order flowers and cakes, or call on Thanksgiving night or day.

For many, another quiet vacation is imminent for one reason or another, and your compassion can smooth out something that feels like a minor offense.

For those who will be sharing the personal feast, this is the year to break out the china and table scenery for a photo shoot. There have been so few opportunities to meet and there is a sense of occasion this year.

And I firmly believe that a nice table makes food taste better.

Once you’re seated for your lavish feast, use this basic food culture refresher and pass the manners along with salt and pepper:

  • Decorative arrangements should be low enough not to block people’s faces. Several small ones that stretch the entire length of the table offer something pretty for all guests.

The place setting is the area in front of you reserved for your placemat, plates, cutlery, glasses and napkins.

Forks are set on the left side of your place setting (with rare exceptions); Knife and spoon on the right. The utensils are placed in the order of the aisles, so work from the outside in. The fork is connected to a knife and they are used together to cut a bite.

  • For desserts, fork and spoon are often used together (e.g. cake and ice cream) and placed horizontally on top of the place setting, spoon over fork, with the fork handle to the left and the spoon handle to the right so that they can be pulled into position when the time comes will. You can also set them up after you’ve cleared dinner.

The napkin is placed in your lap the moment you sit and remains there until you leave. If you apologize during or after dinner, place the napkin loosely folded on the left of your place setting. The napkin also covers your face when you sneeze and dab a runny nose, but excuse yourself if you blow your nose or have coughing fits.

Overcrowded tabletop? Make a small “b” with your left hand and a “d” with your right hand and hold your place setting. The “b” stands for the bread plate on your left. The “d” stands for the drinking glass on your right. Now you’ll never pick up your neighbor’s glass again.

  • The bread plate is used for bread and butter, but also serves as a wastepaper basket for fishbones, olive pits, sugar packaging or other small items that have to be taken out of the mouth. Butter is placed on the bread plate with a butter knife or table knife. The knife lies horizontally over the top. Work over your bread plate and break off a bite-sized piece of bread with your hands, which is buttered piece by piece or alternatively dipped in olive oil. Toast and cookies can be buttered at once.
  • Wherever cutlery is used, there are two types of food in the world: American, also known as zigzag (fork prongs up), is used exclusively in the United States. Continental, also known as European (forks below), is used around the world. Each is defined by how you hold your fork and eat from it. This is not a class problem or how you were raised; If you don’t hold your utensils properly, you won’t have leverage to efficiently cut your food.
  • The cutting position is the same for both styles. With the fork in your left and knife in your right, place the lower end of the handle in your palm and wrap your fingers around with your index finger running down the back or spine of the fork and knife. With the fork pressed downwards, skewer the food and cut over the prongs with the knife. Cut off a bite-sized piece. Choking is often caused by biting off more than you should be chewing.
  • In the American style – at least for right-handers – the knife is placed horizontally over the plate after the food has been cut and the fork changes into the right hand, like a pencil, the prongs up to eat (hence the zigzag). To rest, place your fork on the plate diagonally at 4 o’clock. To close, bring the knife and fork together side by side at 4 o’clock. For foods that do not need to be cut (e.g. rice, mashed potatoes), you can pick up a bite while holding the fork in your right hand with the prongs facing up.

In the Continental style, the fork stays in the left hand and the knife in the right. Lift the fork up, prongs down, and insert it into your mouth, just like the fork was invented. To rest, the knife and fork are placed in an inverted V on the plate. Finally, they will be brought together at 6 a.m. In every style, on the plate; Knife blades always point inwards, in your direction.

The spoon is held in the right hand like a pencil.

  • With continental food, you can rest both wrists on the edge of the table, cutlery in hand or not, a nice alternative to the forbidden elbows. For Americans, the unused hand lies in your lap.
  • Season your food after trying it.
  • Enjoy a delicious sauce with a bite-sized piece of bread on the end of your fork, not on your fingers.
  • To eat a turkey leg, cut the meat with a knife and fork, then pick it up to finish it – except for a formal dinner.
  • Pass the plates, salt and pepper to the right.

Don’t twist your tines. Enjoy these lessons and you and your guests will thank you at the table year-round.

Bizia Greene is an etiquette expert and owns the Etiquette School of Santa Fe. Share your comments and fears at [email protected] or 505-988-2070.

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