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  Office Etiquette - dining etiquette

- Meghana Biwalkar

We are all aware of certain table manners and the dos and don’ts of social dinning, but some foods like oysters and bacon leave us puzzled or sometimes embarrassed. But, with this food guide we are sure you will sail through such occasions and appreciate the food!

1. Seafood: Indulging in seafood at a formal dinner can be very tricky. Some commonly served sea food dishes are:
- Whole fish: Begin by cutting off the head. Next, slice the centre of the back and lift it to turn on the side. Then, remove the spine and bones. Finally, cut the flesh into in small pieces and enjoy your meal.
- Oysters and Clams: Here, you can use your hands. How? Hold the shell in one hand and open with the other. Now, reach out for the meat with a help of a fork.
- Crab: There can’t be trickier and tasty food than crab. To enjoy this delicacy at a formal occasion, start by removing the legs and suck the meat out of them. Next, break open the back with the help of tongs and remove the meat with a small fork. If you are served with soft shell crabs, then just eat the whole thing with the help of fork and knife.
- Lobsters: Here, again start with the claws and use the fork to remove the meat. Next, move to the tail, which you can remove by using your hands. After this, break open the body in half (lengthwise) and use the fork to enjoy rest of the meat.

2. Meats: Yes, the simple rule to eat meat is to use a fork and a knife. But, what do you do when you are served with a tricky preparation of meats like bacon or ribs. Well, just follow the simple rule. If it’s medium or well done use the fork and knife, but, if it’s crispy in case of Bacon, feel free to use your fingers.

3. Noodles and Spaghetti: To avoid the sudden fall from the fork, eat the spaghetti or noodles by winding it up on your fork. The portion of the food on your fork should be eaten in one bite. It is impolite to eat half your noodles and allow the other half to fall back on your plate.

4. Soup: It has its own dos and don’ts. First, spoon the soup away from you and move towards the centre of the bowl. Next, sip it from the side of the spoon. And, to get those last bits…tilt the soup dish away from you and spoon the soup across the bowl to mark that finishing touch.

5. Food for your hands: There are some foods that can be eaten with hands. Corn-on-the-cob, olives, small fruits and berries on the stem are some examples.

But, in all the excitement of being at formal dinner, if you forget a rule or two…don’t panic. Simply follow others on the table!



Tipping – waiters, valets, restaurant hosts – is a fine art, one not many of us are familiar with. The casual swagger, the easy swing of the arm, and (most importantly) knowing exactly how much to give are challenges we all should be prepared to meet!

If you spend dinner stressing about the right amount of tip you need to leave the waiter at the end of your meal, you need to read these tips!
1. Right amount: The perfect tip amount is 15-20% of the total amount you are spending. This may seem a bit steep to you given the large amount you’re already spending on your meal, but do keep in mind the service you receive from otherwise quite poorly paid staff.
2. Have patience: Perhaps your waiter mixed up your order because his mother’s sick, or maybe the hostess was rude because she was just having a really bad hair day. Be patient with your service staff and don’t cut back on the tip for a one-off bad night.
3. Taxes? Should you calculate your tip before or after the tax? Many people calculate a stingier tip pre-tax, but the polite way to go about it is on the total bill.

These tips should help you brave a buffet with élan!


Buffets can be real etiquette challenges with a long queue of people often tackling a limited supply of food. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re at a buffet to eat your fill but with politeness.
- When in the queue: When taking your place in the queue, make sure you don’t stand between a group or couple. Gauge the crowd before taking your position. Also, await your turn and never push people or start serving yourself from the middle of the line. If the person in front of you is slow, go slow! Don’t cut the line – this isn’t a street with traffic, it’s a polite social occasion.
- Serving yourself: When serving yourself, never heap food on your plate. Returning for seconds is perfectly acceptable. Also, do not take food back “for the table” – unless the event is very casual and you are good friends with everyone present, this would be frowned upon. After serving yourself, leave the spoon next to the platter or in the dish provided for the purpose. If an item appears to be in short supply, it would be very rude to serve yourself a large portion.
- Going for seconds: A second round to the buffet table is usually expected, but a third is not. It is typically best to use a fresh plate for your second round. Remember, a buffet is a completely self-service meal so don’t ask the servers to clear your plate or get you a second helping. Do so yourself and then enquire about where you should discard your plate.

These tips should help you brave a buffet with élan!
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