I had been wanting to write a post about table manners or more so about the lack of table manners and why it can be so irritating. I wanted it fun and light and somewhat buzz-feedy. I was going to make a listicle of all those annoying traits. I posted on Twitter and Facebook asking folks to tell me what table habits make them itch and want to scream. The resulting answers were interesting not only for the fact that I may be guilty of one or two of the offences in question.
It was a fascinating conversation as it got quite heated up and some of the debates made me rethink my position, which is never a bad thing.
There were two distinct types of things that people do while eating that seem to drive others mad. One is the sounds that are made. You’re talking the loud chewers, knives scratched against plates and forks against teeth. And then you have the visuals: the open mouths, the knives lickers (I’m one and I’m proud), the fingers in the plate, the knife being held like a pen (that one made people so angry) and so on and so forth.
Some of the things that were annoying others had honestly never registered with me. It’s never occured to me to even look at how people hold their knives for instance. Sure, I’m too busy licking my own to worry about the rest of you!
Up till then, the arguments were going back and forth and it was all good fun and then someone up came up with an angle that I hadn’t thought about. Which is that not every one is able to hold a knife and fork “the proper way” and may chew in a different way simply because of a disease, condition or handicap they may have. Suddenly, I wasn’t laughing quite as hard. Another blogger mentioned that the thread had really worried her as her little boy has a condition that means he does eat a bit differently. What did people tearing shreds of imperfect knife holding techniques mean for her son?
Yes, it is easy and sometimes a good laugh to make fun of others. I think we all have that “mean girls “streak in us. But I now have had to question myself and my motives. Why am I bothered by the way others eat in front of me? Why do I even look or take notice? Why do I get to judge them and not look at my own way of eating? I feel it says a lot more about me than it does about the person in front of me.
Overall, I am mainly a very sensitive soul and the thought of making anyone uncomfortable really doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve thought a lot about this since then and every time I get annoyed by someone eating a bit loudly or chewing with their mouth open, I ask myself a question: “Are they enjoying their food?”. If the answer is yes, then I’d better question why I’m more bothered by what’s going on over their plates than over mine. And do you know what? Since I’ve started doing that, I’m noticing how people eat a lot less and I’m the happier for it.
Still, I would love to understand why it is that we get so bogged down by table manners, which after all should be small irritants. The thread people responded to got fairly heated up which tells me that it clearly touched a nerve.
But, food is to be enjoyed. Sharing a meal is a pleasure or should be and unless someone is being an arse, then I’m happy to overlook whatever different way they may mill into their food. After all, I lick my knife and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
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I don’t tend to question other people’s manners because more often than not I’m far too worried about my own manners being rude 😂
I never learned proper table etiquette and rarely ate at a table growing up so I can be clueless sometimes. Plus culturally where I grew up and where I live now are pretty different.
With that said though I totally see where your mind and heart was at when you initially thought of the post, bar exceptions like diseases or illnesses, some people have terrible manners! But it’s just hard to know who’s suffering from what but don’t beat yourself up. You’re always so mindful I’d hate for you to feel down over this xxx
Ama / Albatroz & Co.
Ama, you’re always so kind. To be honest I’m delighted as I feel I’ve learned something.
I like that you realised that there is no need to be bogged down, to me you should eat the way you like maybe because I am from Mexico , we have so many diferentes foods that can be eaten with your hands, tortillas o tostada, another cultures like Indian food they eat it with their hands, I just think is a bit sad that people automatically think that we don’t have an education per se o we weren’t tough manners, it’s just a different perspective and we love our food
It is a bit sad. I agree!
Excellent piece, very thoughtful and thought provoking. I am so glad you mentioned these issues as I am rather obsessive about table manners but this opened my eyes.
I am happier at the table since I’ve started thinking of all this!
The open mouth chewer.
The soup sucker.
The talking with the mouth full.
The gesturer with the cutlery.
These are in the unforgivable category.
I will forgive using the wrong knife to cut the cheese but using a dessert spoon to eat the soup is just laughable.
Anything I do is acceptable, of course.