In preparing for a class I'm teaching, I came across some interesting facts and details:
- Forks were first used in Tuscany in the 11th century, but were condemned by clergy because food was a gift from God and only His creation could touch it.
- Knives have been around since the Stone Age and became a big etiquette problem in 17th century as men would use the ends of their knives to pick their teeth at the table. According to legend, Duc de Richelieu had the points filed off the table knives in his home.
When you blow your nose or cough, turn round so that nothing falls on the table.
Refrain from falling upon the dish like a swine while eating, snorting disgustingly, and smacking lips.
Turn away when spitting lest your saliva fall on someone.
Do not move back and forth in your chair. Whoever does that gives the impression of constantly breaking or trying to break wind.
And finally, let me share some words of wisdom that George Washington wrote in his rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.
1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
11th Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
12th Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.
16th Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.
53d Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.
54th Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well if your Stokings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.
98th Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.
99th Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after Drinking wipe your Lips breath not then or Ever with too Great a Noise, for its uncivil.