Friday, February 16, 2018

Cheese Etiquette

“A French host will always serve some cheese with the evening meal. We tend to eat cheese before the sweet, because having any after dessert is a bit more difficult to enjoy. The host will serve around four cheeses with some baguette, which is eaten with red wine - white wine would be a crime. There are no chutneys, no tomatoes, grapes or apple that goes with it like you have in England. It is a simple mouthful of bread and cheese, not even any butter.” – Eric Charriaux in MailOnline.com

Most people understandably don't think there are many rules for eating cheese, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The etiquette pitfalls are actually numerous, varying from deploying the incorrect condiments and slicing the cheese the wrong way.

Eric Charriaux and his business partner Amnon Paldi own Premier Cheese, which supplies cheese to the restaurant and hotel industry, as well as a range of fromageries called La Cave á Fromage. Here 
Charriaux explains some of the rules the French have when it comes to eating cheese, starting with how you should always have enough for a selection to offer unexpected guests.

According to 
Charriaux, “Most French people have their own plastic or wooden container with a selection of cheeses that are ready to be eaten, in case of guests. They will be in a good ripe condition, from a market stall, a farm or a  cheese monger, who usually only sell local cheeses.” Not only does your range of cheese mark you out as a connoisseur or not, but the point during the meal that you serve them does too, as well as what they are served alongside. 

A French host will always serve some cheese with the evening meal. “We tend to eat cheese before the sweet, because having any after dessert is a bit more difficult to enjoy. The host will serve around four cheeses with some baguette, which is eaten with red wine - white wine would be a crime. There are no chutneys, no tomatoes, grapes or apple that goes with it like you have in England. It is a simple mouthful of bread and cheese, not even any butter.”

Now, if your host has gone to such lengths to serve the cheese course in the correct manner, it is only right to enjoy their offerings with the proper etiquette and there are a couple of crucial points to follow, including never, ever cutting the nose (the centre piece) off a triangle brie. 


Charriaux says that cutting the nose off the brie is very bad manners. “You should never cut a triangle by the tip, because then someone will only be left with the outer rind and nothing else. That will trigger terrible comments from people around you.

“The other main point to remember is that if there is blue cheese on the board, it has to be eaten last because of the power of the other cheese. If you eat the blue cheese first, it demonstrates that you have a weak palette. The most important thing to know is this though - cheese is something be enjoyed with good friends.” — Daily Mail Online, 2016



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chinese Conversation Etiquette

Chinese brothers in the United States, circa 1890 – Confucianism's core values of etiquette and politeness are key components of the Chinese culture value system.

Extreme Politeness: Chinese etiquette requires that in conversation, each should compliment the other, and everybody belonging to him in the most laudatory style, and depreciate himself, with all pertaining to him, to the lowest possible point.  

The following is a fair sample of Chinese conversation; “What is your honorable name?” “My insignificant appellation is Wong.” “Where is your magnificent palace?” “My contemptible hut is at Suchan.” “How many are your illustrious children?” “My vile, worthless brats are five.” “How is the health of your distinguished spouse?” “My mean, good-for-nothing old woman is well.” — Harper’s Weekly , 1861


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Etiquette and 20th C. Mom Shaming

Mere conventions, mere formal ceremonies, do not indicate good manners. Good manners are the result of an unselfish desire to avoid annoying others and to give pleasure to one’s associates.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1912 

You may be happy in the thought that you are progressive. You are interested in everything which can help the world along. You study political economy; you believe in equal rights: you are a good economical housekeeper; you are a cultured woman; and you take an active part in all movements which tend toward social betterment. But what part are you taking in the bringing up of your children? American children have the reputation abroad of appalling ill manners. It is almost universally merited. 


On board a large ocean liner (the passenger list composed of many nationalities) four children at a table in the dining room were noticeable for their bad breeding. They were handsome children, well dressed and carefully groomed. But they laughed loudly, stared at neighboring tables, made audible comments upon people, whispered and pointed and giggled, until some of the other passengers called the attention of the head steward to their annoying peculiarities, and they were requested to behave themselves in a seemly manner. 

Governesses and Tutors for Them, but Mother’s Training Was Lacking 

These children were from America, and the most offensive of the four was the twelve-year-old daughter of an American banker. They had been given governesses, tutors, schooling and travel benefits, but they had never received the refined training of a wise mother. Otherwise, they could not have shown such vulgar and offensive traits. Children are born mere hungry little animals. They have no way of knowing what is good taste, and what is kind, and what is graceful and agreeable, unless they are taught by their elders. 

All refined manners are things of growth, from the animal state to the higher human state. It has been a thing of slow evolution. Our remote ancestors all ate ravenously and used their hands to tear food into morsels. They smacked their lips, and made loud sounds and drank noisily. They flung their limbs about ungracefully and picked their teeth with thorns and slivers, and they did not hesitate to slap and bite and kick one another when angry, as animals do. 

Gradually an idea dawned upon these more highly developed creatures that there was such a thing as behavior, and that it was something for which to strive—something better than mere impulse. So through eons of time, good manners developed, and the more delicate and gracious the manners, the farther away the man is from the purely animal state. Mere conventions, mere formal ceremonies, do not indicate good manners. Good manners are the result of an unselfish desire to avoid annoying others and to give pleasure to one’s associates. 

Children should be taught these things from the time they are able to sit upon a mother’s knee. They should be taught that their hands are not to pull and tear the mother’s hair or gown or slap her face or otherwise be offensive. A little dog can be taught that he must not jump on people and put his paws on their laps; it requires a very short time to train the average puppy in this manner. So a small child can he taught to be gentle if the mother cares to give the time and effort. And as the child soon understands language it can be trained by tender, sweet counsels to show courtesy in all the little daily matters of life. It is the habit of most American children to dispute with their elders and flatly to contradict in argument. In European countries such a thing is almost unknown. 

It’s the Duty of Parents to Correct Faults in Contrary Children 

American children COMMAND their parents to fetch and carry objects for pleasure and rarely say thank you unless reminded. It is an easy matter to teach a small child to say “Pardon me, but I think you have made a mistake,” where the child is confident, to an elder or a companion who has made a mistake in relating some incident. Every child has a right to express its opinion.  That is the way childish minds expand. But when they say, “That’s no such thing.” “No, you didn’t, either,” and the parent allows the flat contradiction to pass as a proof of the child’s smartness, then a great American evil is being countenanced and abetted. 

American children are rarely taught to listen respectfully to their elders. They whistle, sing and interrupt, and walk away in the midst of conversation without making apology. Boys sit in the presence of older people who stand; they rush into and out of a room where there is conversation or music, with no apology, and usually unrebuked. Proper attitudes of body, proper position of growing young limbs, proper handling of table utensils, the retirement to the private room for use of toothpick or attention to the person in any way—these are a few of the many things which it is the mother’s duty to teach her children early and continually. 

Mother Can Easily Teach the Great Value of Good Manners 

Any woman, however poor and humble, can instruct her children to be gentle mannered, courteous, and refined in voice and deportment if she realizes the value of good manners in the world. Good manners, without education, will pass many a man and woman through the world and into good society; but education without good manners will only enlarge a human being’s opportunity to he offensive to his fellow men.– Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1912


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Etiquette, Deportment and Curtseys

Little girls learn to etiquette and drawing room deportment with curtseys in 1890 German artwork... “Complimenti! Complimenti!” - deportment (n.) 1st known use 1601, from Middle French déportement, from déporter “to behave,” from Old French deporter

Teachers of etiquette and drawing room deportment are putting their pupils through exercises which are designed to improve the carriage and grace of the debutante.They are teaching her how to open a door and pass out through it while keeping her face toward her hostess or the person in the room. Carelessness has made girls forget that this attention is due the person to whom "good-bye" has been said.

Usually the girls are in a hurry to get to some other place or they are occupied with the next appointment or perhaps they have never had their attention called to the fact that saying "good-bye" is not the final act of departure. Having had this done, girls are now beginning to see that the formal leave-taking is not terminated until the guest has withdrawn from the room, if she is calling or has been summoned before her parents or some older person in authority.

In informal meetings, these details of deportment are not generally observed, but they should be learned as a preparation for more formal occasions, because one never knows at what time they will be valuable assets.

Girls often make the same mistake of entering a room, especially if they shut the door behind them. In entering they face the center of the room or the end where the person visited is seated; then in order to close the door they turn squarely around, back to the room, and gently push the door to. After accomplishing this act successfully they consider themselves ready to go on with the formal entrance, which by this time has lost all its dignity and attractiveness.

For no person can suggest both of these qualities by presenting her back to a gathering. It is easy to close a door after you without moving the body around. The arms and hands do it while the face is turned toward the center of the room. 


Of course these details seem trivial to very young girls, who seldom take all the interest in their manners that they should, but by the time a girl has finished school and is ready to enter society she will be grateful to the parent or teacher who insisted on her learning the little arts which seemed so useless to her before. — San Francisco, 1912

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Friday, February 9, 2018

Miss Manners on Tea Etiquette

“Tea is made in the drawing room in full view of the guests, so get it right. The proper method is this: Rinse the teapot with boiling water. Give your teaspoons a chance to do the job for which they were trained by putting in one teaspoon of loose tea (tea is claustrophobic and hates being stuffed into little bags) for each tea drinker, plus one. Now pour on the rapidly boiling water. There are few things worse than tepid tea.” 


Tea for Two or 3,000 

Dear Miss Manners: I should like to begin having tea on a daily schedule with friends stopping in, with or without invitations. A couple of questions do require answering: At what time is “teatime,” and should coffee be offered or placed on the table? 

Gentle Reader: Miss Manners adores afternoon tea, from “oh-do-join-me-for-a-cup” to royal receptions for 3,000 people. She would advise you to get some practice in the former before attempting the latter. There are few more charming ways to spend an afternoon than to sit, surrounded by fine china and friends, wolfing down scones and bringing up epigrams. 

If you wish to test the water before jumping in even on a weekly basis water for tea should always be boiling invite people for a specific day writing: Tea Tuesday the Seventeenth. Four to Six o’clock. All should be written in the lower left corner of your visiting cards. Later it may be “Tuesdays 4 to 6 p.m.” Place on a tray a large silver or copper kettle over an alcohol burner and tea caddy, with a teapot, cups (which have been warmed with boiling water), teaspoons, a slops bowl, a tea strainer, a milk pitcher (cream overpowers a dainty cup of tea), a bowl of lump sugar, little plates and napkins. 

Tea is made in the drawing room in full view of the guests, so get it right. The proper method is this: Rinse the teapot with boiling water. Give your teaspoons a chance to do the job for which they were trained by putting in one teaspoon of loose tea (tea is claustrophobic and hates being stuffed into little bags) for each tea drinker, plus one. Now pour on the rapidly boiling water. There are few things worse than tepid tea. 

When the tea has steeped for about four minutes, ask your guest of honor how she takes it. Using the strainer, pour straight from the pot for strong tea and dilute it from the kettle for weak. Then add sugar (the reason for using lump sugar is so you may ask the traditional “One lump or two?”) and milk, according to the taste. Some troublemakers prefer lemon to milk and you may put slices in a glass dish on the tray, but you are only encouraging them. 

When this ritual is performed, the guest takes her tea from the hostess or if there is a gentleman present, he takes it to her. She then takes a plate, napkins and a modest selection from your platters of hot breads, tiny sandwiches, cookies and a slice of whatever luscious cake your cook has baked that day. If you become addicted to this form of entertaining, you may need to to move on to stronger doses, such as the reception, which is tea served in the dining room.

The tea service is placed at one end of the table, and the teacups napkins, plates, forks if needed, and a larger supply of tea food (at least two of each kind mentioned above) go in the middle. At the other end stands an urn of chocolate, boullion, or more often lately to Miss Manners' dismay, coffee. You may ask friends “to pour,” that is to serve the tea and chocolate for you as you move among your guests. Being asked to pour is an honor just short of knighthood.

The traditional time for tea is four o'clock, which is perfect if you have your afternoons free. However, coffee is only one of the sad things that has happened to tea over the years. Some people have the idea that there is something more important to do in the afternoon than sip tea and eat buttered bread, such as earning a living. If you have friends who work, Miss Manners suggests that you schedule your tea on a weekend or at a time convenient to them on their way home when you could give them yet another variation, “high tea,” so as to replace, rather than interfere with, their supper. 

High tea is more substantial in all matters of food and drink than afternoon tea. It could include a whiskey and soda tray. Along with the dainty foods traditional to afternoon tea, there are soft boiled eggs, sausages, sardines on toast, kippers, chicken livers and such. While some unscrupulous restaurants try to make afternoon tea sound more “high society” by calling it “high tea,” the word “high” is actually related to “it's high time we had something to eat.” As social events go, high tea is lower on the scale than afternoon tea, because the chances of being fed dinner are small on a day you are given high tea. In that respect it is like the “cocktail-buffet,” than which there are few lower social events. – From Judith Martin’s, “Miss Manners’ "Guide fo Excruciatingly Correct Behavior,” 1985

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Etiquette, Royal Titles and Diana


Fondly remembered as the “People’s Princess,” Diana’s life continues to fascinate in books, traveling exhibits and television programs, over 20 years after her death.

In 1985, Titles Created a Royal Problem for the Masses, And Miss Manners Responded


She is not “Princess Diana.” You perhaps know the lady Miss Manners means –the blonde one who wears hats so nicely but has not always managed to keep her hair out of her eyes. 

Born a commoner, she was styled "Lady Diana" by courtesy because her father is an earl. She is now, having married up, “the Princess of Wales.” Only should she become Queen consort would a royal title appear before her first name, as “Queen Diana.” Is that clear? Of course not. 

We Americans decided long ago that the idea of classifying some people as belonging to a higher order of humanity was not for us. Our highest title is “Mr.,” as in “Mr. President,” and it takes the individual some doing to get it. But the British do show up on our shores now and again, so one may want to know a bit about titles. 

Besides, it is difficult to make one's way through 19th-century British novels or 20th-century British television without being able to figure out who is called what and why. The subject is infinitely complicated, and disputes have been known to last for centuries. Miss Manners will concern herself only with the basic outline. Only the reigning Queen and her mother (as the widow of the previous King) are addressed as “Your Majesty,” other members of the royal family being addressed as “Your Royal Highness.” Children of the Sovereign also use the prefix “the,” as in “Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales.”

The peerage has five grades: duke, marquess (most use the good old English spelling rather than the French “marquis”), earl, viscount and baron. The female equivalents, for wives or widows (the latter styled dowager, if the succeeding peer has a wife) are: duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess and baroness. Except for dukes and duchesses, who are called by those titles, peers and peeresses are addressed as “Lord” or “Lady” with the name of the senior peerage they possess. Legally, the children of these people are all commoners. 

However, dukes, marquesses and earls tend to have other titles as well, and by courtesy, their oldest sons use the next family title down until after, courteously enough, the funerals, not the deaths, of their fathers. Then there are titled commoners: baronets, whose degrees of honor are hereditary, and knights, whose are not. They use “Sir” before their full names, but are addressed with the title and given name only. Their wives use “Lady” with the surname only, never with their given names (a common American error). 

This is only the beginning. Miss Manners will not bore you with collateral privileges of the siblings of heirs presumptive who succeed, the rights of duchesses who were divorced in interesting trials, the children of peers who disclaimed their peerages, and so on. She only asks you to stop saying “Princess Diana.” – By Judith Martin, October 27, 1985

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Etiquette, Snubs and Snobs

It is believed that the word “snobbery” came into use for the first time in 1820’s England. According to Wikipedia, “‘Snob’ is a pejorative term for a person that believes there is a correlation between social status and human worth.” The word “snob” also refers to a person that feels superiority over those from lower education levels, lower “social classes,” or other social areas.

 Who is the Real Snob?

I have noticed more than once that a certain American newspaper which toadies to “the people” makes a point whenever the opportunity offers of denouncing as a “snob” our present Ambassador to France, Mr. Henry White. Within a day or two it has made an unusually vicious attack, asserting that Americans come home from Paris complaining bitterly of having been snubbed at the Embassy, the while our distinguished representative was groveling at the feet of British Lords and French of high degree; or some such nonsense. Once or twice before this I have been tempted to make comment on these charges, not as a matter of duty to Mr. White, with whom I have but the slightest acquaintance, but to the country which sent him abroad as one of its most conspicuous representatives. 


To begin with the specific charge, no man was ever less of a snob than Mr. White. He has now been in the Diplomatic Service of the United States for 26 years, and has left his record wherever he has been accredited as one of the few American gentlemen with whom Europeans could find no fault— as simple and high-bred in manner as he is magnetic, intelligent and sympathetic. With more reason to be spoiled than any American we have ever sent abroad, he has never lost his balance, his courtesy, his sincerity. I have quoted him for years, both in Europe and at home as the American Diplomatist of whom we have the greatest reason to be proud; and not only for his in comparable manners, for his warm and genuine Americanism that no amount of old world polish could hide if it would. What does the average person mean when he uses the word “snob?” This is a question which has often puzzled me, and I have a faint idea that it is a pet word with people who have been, or fancy they have been, snubbed; there being a confused sense of relationship in their minds between the two words. 

A writer of the newspaper I allude to is one of the most pitiful snobs extant, as I understand the word. While toiling at a desk, liable to discharge any moment by his imperious master, he is yet a “climber” in New York society, and even in a business conversation can not refrain from mentioning the names of certain famous leaders, hinting that they are his intimate friends. Yet at the time of the Algeciras conference, he lamented at great length in print, that we were to be represented by a “snob” like our Ambassador to Italy, as Mr. White then was, instead of being grateful that the President had appointed a gentleman, as well as an experienced Diplomatist. His own attack reeked of snobbery, for had he felt conscious that he was in the same class as its object, irreproachably born and bred, it would never have occurred to him to make it. He put himself in the class of the Americans who storm the Embassy in London, asking to be escorted to Henley, or given tickets for Royal functions, and, when politely steered to the door, anathematize the patient envoy as a “snob,” and: “no American.” 

None of our fellow countrymen has ever held (not occupied temporarily) the distinguished position in English society that the Whites have held for the last quarter of a century. And instead of this being a matter of reproach, as certain of our newspapers would have us believe, we should congratulate ourselves that there is at least one small class of foreigners who, coming in contact with few Americans, assume that we are a well bred nation. Mr. White, having been born at the top, has never lost his head, as many of our Ambassadors have done when suddenly privileged to entertain royalty and hobnob with the bearers of titles they, had hardly heard pronounced until coached by their secretaries. I do not believe that the most ingenuous of these gentlemen has ever intentionally snubbed an American who approached him properly. Not only would such an indulgence be unwise from the politicians’ standpoint, but most of them are good Americans at heart and quite ready to do their duty by their fellow citizens. – Gertrude Atherton, 1909

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia