Good manners is child of morality and social conventions. Of course they change, following the change of morals and society. During the last years of 19th century and first thirty years of 20th century, Greece faced major crises, military mobilizations, wars, political conflicts, a National Schism, economic insecurity, the problems of thousands refugees who arrived in waves between 1855 and 1932 from Crimea, Caucasus, Eastern Romylia, Thrace and western Asia Minor, overseas emigration etc.
Under such difficult conditions good manners became not only a way of keeping the civilization in every day life but also the hallmark of a cosmopolitan upper social class.1
The cookbooks of this period explains the rules relating to guests at lunch or dinner party.
A guest eats slowly and politely, not hastily.
A guest never gets much food.
A guest eats using fork and knife; he/she never uses hands. He/She never carries food to the mouth with a knife.
A guest puts the napkin on his/her thighs and knees, never tucks it into his/her collar.
He /She cuts meat and other foods into small pieces so as to avoid stuffing the mouth full of food.
When he/ she needs salt he/she uses the special spoon or a clean knife, never the hand.
A guest takes bread with the fingers and cuts it into small bites. He/She never dips his/her bread into the sauce, nor cleans his /her knife with a piece of bread.
A guest never smells his food. However it is acceptable if he does it at a small restaurant.
Fish must be cut off with specific knife.
A guest uses the napkin for mouth whenever necessary, so that he/she will not soil his/her glass.
A guest cuts cheese into small pieces and eats it on a bit of bread. He/She never carries it to the mouth with a knife.
Fruits are cleaned and cut with a small knife and a small fork. Nuts are broken open with a nutcracker, never cracked by teeth. Sweets are meant to be eaten with small fork and knife, never with hands, apart from small dried sweets and cakes.
A guest cleans his/her teeth only with a toothpick.
A guest doesn’t try to catch a knife or fork that has fallen accidentally. This is a job for the servant.
He/She chats without raising voice. He/She does not shout down to the ear of the people seated on either side of him/her.
A guest does not lean on the table but leans over the plate each time he/she takes a bite.
A guest does not ask a second round of the same dish.
He/She sets the pits of olives on the edge of his/her plate using his/her fork.
A guest does not drink wine in one swallow.
He /She does not rest the forks and knives on the table but on the special utensils.
He/She does not spills wine or sauce on the tablecloth and napkin.
He/she is always careful with his/her words and manners.
After the meal the guest goes to the coffee room.
When its time to leave, a guest thanks the hosts for their hospitality.
1 During this period the Greek population was heterogenous (Greek, Hebrew in Northern Greece, Greek, Italian in Dodecanesse, Greek, Turkish Cretan in Crete etc.) and the upper social class had cosmopolitan character.
Tag: table manners