When I sit down for dinner I typically eat my salad first. This is a popular style of dining in America. I was taught to use the fork farthest from my dinner plate to eat my salad. In the book, The Power of Civility, your co-author’s formal place setting illustration suggests the complete opposite. Can you please clarify because I like to stand out-not stick out while dining! Thanks!
Dear Savvy Diner,
In the chapter, “Dining with Civility,” found in the book, The Power of Civility, Co-Author Nonnie Cameron Owens provides a beautiful illustration of the most formal place setting. I use a similar illustration when teaching dining etiquette to my clients because of its insightful presentation of formal dining.
Note that in her illustration found in the book, the salad fork is placed closest to the dinner plate. This means the salad will be served following the entrée, as seen in the photo below.
You are right that in America the salad is typically served before the main meal, in which case the salad fork will be placed farthest left of the plate. Mrs. Owens illustrates a formal meal where fish, rather than salad, will be the diner’s first course that is to be eaten with a fork.
If you look closely at the photo I’ve included in this blog post, are you able to pick out the dessert setting? It’s the fork and spoon setting resting directly above the plate. Is the setting placed correctly? Not quite. The dessert fork is placed correctly on the table, however the handle of the spoon needs to face the bread plate instead of the wine glasses.
The most important rule for navigating a place setting is to always work from the outside in. Remember this and you will always know you are using the right fork -and also the right spoon- during a meal.
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