Dining Customs

  • Who dines together and who always dines separately? Do men and women, parents and children, servants and masters eat together? How is status displayed at the table (seating “below the salt,” proximity to the head of the table, first choice of foods)?
  • Are special dining customs observed on certain holidays or for certain events (such as weddings or funerals)?
  • What distinguishes a formal or high-court dinner from an ordinary meal, besides quantity and variety of food? How do formal manners differ from everyday ones?
  • What eating utensils are used, if any? Have utensils developed in the culture or been imported (as with Catherine de M├ędicis bringing our modern day dining utensils to France)?
  • What is the order of a typical upper-class meal? Do they start with wine, then a sweet, then stew, then salad, or is everything brought in at once?
  • What shape are tables and eating areas? Where is the “place of honor” for a guest? Where do important members of the household sit?
  • Are special arrangements necessary for entertaining guests of different races or species? How do the eating customs of different races reflect their cultures and biology?

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Dining Customs

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