“It is only the unknown that tends to shake our poise.”
Well lucky for you motherfuckers, we have Amy V to help us through any and all invitations to be a Guest at Formal Meals.
First and foremost, you must be prepared to pay sufficient attention to those servants paid to be attending you and the other guests. Remember, usually a butler and male servants! Waitresses are only allowed at formal luncheons!
Anyway, be aware of plates being presented to you, always from the left. When dishes are removed, it will be from the right. Except for the butter dish. It is not elaborated upon as to what happens to the butter dish. I guess it just stays there? That’s cool. Butter should always be present.
If it is a particularly crowded table, you may need to move aside, just slightly, either left or right.
The main point is to be vigilant. I assume to cut down on the likelihood of accidents and spills. But what happens if something unseemly does happen? Don’t you worry, Amy V has us covered there, too!
Starting off small, if there are just some crumbs or bits of bread, no biggie, the servants will take care of those after everyone has left the table.
If you should happen to see any semi-liquid, such as jelly or sauce, feel free to -quietly now!- remove it with a convenient utensil and place it on the side of your plate.
If anything is spilled while it’s being served, the servant takes care of it.
If, Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid, an entire drink is spilled, a servant may need to either remove the place setting and set down a fresh napkin, or replace the mat with a new one.
But No. Matter. What! Everyone, guests and hostess, absolutely MUST NOT make a big deal out of anything. Even if your great-great-grandmothers lace tablecloth from the old country is accidentally set on fire,
“the accident should be minimized as much as possible.”
And please don’t attempt to assist the servers in any manner. And certainly don’t talk to them! Maybe, MAYBE, a quiet “good evening” or something, but only if it’s the first time you’ve seen them that day, but also only if you’ve been a frequent guest.
It’s pretty complicated, best to just ignore them completely, really.
Even back in the day, when one could smoke in doctor’s offices and on planes, it was considered rude to smoke at a formal table. Do not expect an ashtray to be provided. That is, as long as
“the hostess takes pride in her cuisine.”
Eat ‘Em Up! No, Wait…
Don’t care for your grandma’s green bean casserole? Too bad. You’re going to take a little bit of everything, and at least make some pretense at eating it.
But good news! You don’t have to eat it all! You must always leave a little so as not to appear gluttonous. Bad news if you love that good good sweet potato casserole, though. You have to leave that one.last.bite. It’s going to sit there, mocking you, until a servant takes it away.
But fortunately, there is a way to signal you’re finished with your plate. I shared this diagram yesterday
But holy shit there is a lot that goes into this whole ritual. I’m just going to extensively quote, here.
“When a plate of food has been finished or the diner has had all he wishes, he places the fork and knife (but only if he has used one or both) on the right side of the plate, sharp side of the blade facing in, the fork tines up, to the left of the knife. They should be so placed as not to slide off as the plate is being removed. Dessert spoon and fork are placed on the empty plate, as they were when the plate was presented, that is, fork on the left, spoon on the right with tines of the fork up and facing, with the bowl of the spoon slightly toward the center of the plate, and securely enough so they won’t fall off when the servant picks up the plate. No used silver is ever placed on the table or left in a cup. A soup spoon is left in a large soup plate. An iced tea spoon is left in the glass if no service plate is beneath. Unused silver at the place is left on the table, to be removed to a tray by the servant before the dessert course.”
You got all that? Good.
Bt-dubs, there is a much more complicated diagram going around the interweb, particularly on Pinterest, but from my research, it really seems to be a bit of bullshit. Just stick with ol’ Amy V.
Coffee! Cigars! Booze!
Don’t forget y’all, after dinner means the parting of the sexes. At least in the dining room. The men are welcome to stay around the table, but the women must leave. And much judgement shall be thrown upon those who try to mix this up.
“For one Lothario to make off after the ladies is considered bad conduct.”
For real, don’t be a creeper, my dude.
“And in equally poor taste is the young lady who leaves the gentlemen with a reluctant backwards glance.”
“Needless to say, if the gentlemen move on to the library for coffee no lady allows herself to be persuaded to join them. Historically, the stories that are sometimes told at these stag moments after dinner are unfit for shell-like ears…”
Shell-like is another word for virginal, I assume.
And just how do you know what these conversations are like, anyway, Amy V?
“…and, at any rate the other ladies would frigidly resent such a defection.”
Ugh. Of course they would.
“As insurance, perhaps, against any such encroachments on masculine preserves, the doors were locked upon the gentlemen after dinner in the early nineteenth century, and it is said many never did eventually “join the ladies.””
Did…did they kill them? This chapter ends rather ominously.
Be on your best behavior, y’all, holy shit.
But for reals, have a great Thanksgiving, everyone! Well, Americans who are celebrating, at least. Have a great Thursday to everyone else, perhaps with some extra awesome food? Idk.