Dear ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you have once stained your white shirt during lunch, dropped some food on the floor, tried to answer a question with your mouth full or let an unfortunate belch or flatulence out. Here is the solution to avoid such major discomfort when receiving guests for dinner or eating at the restaurant for a business occasion.
I stained my clothes
AT HOME: You can apologise and go to the bathroom to clean the stain. However, you must be careful not to spread it and make it worse. If you are at your home, you can discreetly change. If you are a guest at someone’s home and if you have a jacket, put it on to cover the stain.
AT THE RESTAURANT: If the stain is on the lower part of your top or on your pants, use your napkin to cover it. Do not try to remove it with the napkin: it will make it worse. Once lunch/dinner is over, use your bag or your arms to hide the stain discreetly. If you stained the upper part of your clothes, the situation is more delicate: you should find an excuse to go to the bathroom and try to absorb the stain with a slightly moisturised serviette. If you cannot get rid of the stain, pretend that you are feeling cold and put your jacket on.
You clumsily dropped some food on the floor
Can you imagine someone walking on some food you dropped on the floor? What an horrible situation.
AT HOME: Apologize for this regrettable blunder if somebody saw you. Even if nobody saw you, take a paper towel to discretely clean it and put it in the bin. It is not an important issue, everyone will forget about it quickly.
AT THE RESTAURANT: Only ask the waiter to pick it if it wouldn’t disturb the whole dinner. Otherwise, pretend your napkin fell on the ground and take advantage of the situation to take it back discreetly with the piece of food caught up in your napkin. Then politely ask a waiter to change your napkin.
AT HOME: There is nothing less elegant than eating with an open mouth, belching, spitting, etc. If you fear a belch or flatulence is on the verge of coming out, simply excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and come back to the table when you feel better.
AT THE RESTAURANT: Do not drink noisily the soup, do not rub your teeth on your fork, neither use it to clean food stuck between your teeth, even if it is with a toothpick. Do not let a belch or flatulence out. Simply excuse yourself politely and go to the bathroom.
I don’t like the food in front of me
This is an issue that you can face often. However, you must be respectful to the cook or the host.
AT HOME: If you don’t like the meal the host cooked, you should still try it. After one bite, simply stop eating. After a few minutes, the host will probably ask you why you are not eating. Do not say that you don’t like it but explain politely that you are intolerant to the food served.
AT THE RESTAURANT: If you do not like the food served, do not spit it, you must swallow it. If you really cannot eat it, discreetly bring your napkin to your mouth to take the food away. Then you should either hide it in some way, or give it to the waiter.
I have something in mouth but I have to talk
AT HOME: Never speak with something in your mouth, wait until you have swallowed the food. Be gentle and smart, don’t ask something when somebody is eating, wait for him to finish eating to ask him anything.
AT THE RESTAURANT: If someone asks you something when you have food in your mouth, wait before answering. Cover your mouth with one hand, fingers held together: your guests will understand that you are almost done eating. They will also notice how polite your are. If you plan to give a speech, stop eating.
Seasoning the food
AT HOME: Never add soya sauce, chilli, salt or pepper if you haven’t tried the meal first. You must believe that your host knows how to season his cuisine properly. Only after tasting you may add condiments if you wish.
AT THE RESTAURANT: Just like at home, always taste the dish served before seasoning it.
My phone is ringing during lunch or dinner
AT HOME: When at home, you should leave your phone anywhere but on the table. Make sure to muted it so you don’t get distracted: you can make your calls later.
AT THE RESTAURANT: Switch your phone to mute before arriving at the restaurant or at least put it in vibrate mode. Do not put your phone on the table but keep it in your pockets or in your bag. If you know you will receive an important call, politely inform your guests in advance. When the phone rings, excuse yourself and leave the table to take the call. Your call must not exceed five minutes; otherwise it would be very disrespectful. Apologize one more time when you come back at the table. If the call is not important, simply decline it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, now you know how to behave in such embarrassing situations and how to handle it with elegance!