How to Use the Correct Silverware

Imagine: Being invited to a formal dinner or fancy party, and all you’re doing is worrying about the silverware! Not to worry, though there is an easy way to remember when and what to use when enjoying the meal–so you won’t get caught eating your soup with the coffee spoon.

The Basics

People arrange silverware in the order that it will be used, following the dishes that get served. Remember: Each course has its own set of silverware, up to three forks and three knives.

From the left side, there is the napkin (if it isn’t on top of your plate in the center), fish fork, salad fork, and dinner fork. The fish fork is shorter and has broader tines to pick out the bones. The salad fork is shorter than the dinner fork and often has one tine on the left side that is thicker than the others. This way you can cut the lettuce without a knife, and is sometimes delivered to the table chilled. The dinner fork is the one closest to the plate (s). When you work from the outside in, you will have the dinner fork and knife. You need to always place the forks with the tines facing upward.

From the right, there is the dinner knife (that is closest to the plate), fish knife, soup spoon and oyster spoon (if applicable). You should face the knives with their blade toward the plate. The fish knife may have a broad curved shape that is also helpful for removing bones. To gracefully handle the fish this knife should be more for pushing the fish on the fork, then for cutting it. If you need to cut the fish, then use the curved side. The pointed tines point up when in use. If it is a less formal occasion, then it is okay to use the dinner fork for fish.

The soup spoon is the largest spoon on the table, and you need to set it between the fish knife and the dinner knife. The bowl of the spoon faces upward when placing on the table. You need to put the dessert silver above the plate, with the handle of the silverware facing the hand that it is supposed to use. The dessert fork is on the left, and the dessert spoon is on the right (following the main silverware).

You should bring the fruit silverware to the table with the fruit plates. If Any additional silverware needed, then you to need to bring them to the table, including the spoons used for coffee. The butter spreader is placed diagonally on the bread plate, with the blade edge toward the dinner fork. All place settings are approximately 1 inch before the table edge, so don’t spill on yourself or the tablecloth!

Quick Rules of Etiquette

Spoons used for broth and cream soups should only half filled. Carefully scoop the soup by moving the spoon from the edge of the bowl closet toward you, then toward the center of the bowl, and brought to the mouth tip. When stirring sugar with a coffee spoon or teaspoon, you should move the spoon vertically, not in swishing circles. You need to use a flat, smooth spoon for ice cream and sorbets.

Remember to cut the food one bite at a time, right before you bring the food to the mouth. When you put your silverware down during a meal, do not put it on the tablecloth. You should rest it on the edge of the plate, fork on one side, knife on the other, facing parallel to the table. After finishing your meal, place the fork and knife together on the right side of the plate, set in the lower right-hand corner. The teaspoon should be placed on the saucer and not left in the cup, whether the bowl is empty or not.

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