Eating out when dating is a thrill and can be very romantic however choosing the wrong foods can dampen the night and cause awkwardness. Dining whilst dating can be a forecast into the future of your date’s habits and foibles and yours as well.
The Lady and the Tramp and Pretty Woman
Cast your mind to the Disney movie cartoon the Lady and the Tramp, in the famous scene where two dogs eat a sloppy spaghetti dish end up kissing! Romantic-yes, messy-yes. How about the famous scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts attempts to wrestle with that slippery oyster! We have all been there. Here are some points in maintaining elegance during your date night.
Dining Etiquette Don’ts
Your date has stated they will pay for the meal, nice one. This event is not the place to be choosing foods that you've never heard of or eaten before. Leaving plates full of uneaten food may not impress your date and is a waste of their hard-earned cash. Don't start drinking too much, too soon. You could be revealing too much about yourself before you know it or can recall. Order lighter drinks first, whilst nibbling on finger foods moving onto wines and water for the main course.
Your date night is not the place to start using chopsticks if you have never used them before or if you're freshly manicured and you're about to eat a Middle Eastern dish with your fingers, never mind knowing which hand to use. Skip the coffee course unless you have a strong menthol solution to combat ‘coffee breath’. Pick herbal teas or an aperitif to end the night.
Dining Etiquette Do’s
Avoid messy foods that may stain your clothing and have you spending more time in the restroom than with your date these include most kinds of saucy pasta and curries. Choose foods that are easy to eat and you're able to control food with your fork and knife, this will help you concentrate on the things that matter. Easy to eat cuisines such as chicken parmigiana, risotto or salads.
Seafood is a chic item to order, even better when your date is paying! Opt for, if you are feeling confident eating oysters using a seafood fork or splicing a boned fish with a fish knife. Select foods that won’t upset your stomach and make you feel uncomfortable and shift your focus off your date. Avoid overly creamy items, meat cooked rare or tartare, fermented vegetables or legumes or pungent fish.
‘Be Prepared’ as a Scout
Choosing wisely when you go on date will save you from embarrassing moments or having your date second guess their evening with you. Go prepared and ready, this will keep anxiety to a minimum, will have you enjoying your night and ready for the next date.
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Why is there an emphasis on those who work for the government, an embassy, or mission to see the need to attend an etiquette course? Ray S. Leki from Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State states, “the rules and processes of diplomatic protocol are based in pragmatic thinking, common sense, and good manners.”
We know that etiquette is about politeness and courtesy, but not all are diplomats working for embassies or governments. Do I need to know or even show diplomacy in my everyday life? The answer, in short, is yes.
Diplomacy is the art of conducting, communicating, negotiating, and fine-tuning mutual relations of people, organisations and countries. Diplomacy can be used for non-adversarial interactions to promote one’s or group interests or critical events and defuse tensions. The use of diplomacy allows for open, transparent dialogue, which enhances friendly relations as long as possible. But first, let’s look at two etiquette faux pas that has occurred on an international scale. Let’s take a walk-through history….
Based on historical evidence, Queen Victoria was fascinated with those from different countries and enjoyed cultural differences. No doubt she would have used her etiquette not to embarrass her guest, The Shah of Iran; she showed the quality of adaptability and accepted the partly eaten asparagus. Emperor Akihito shows compassion towards Taro Yamamoto by taking the piece of paper. Whether he read it or not was another question. The emperor calmly took the letter and gave the handwritten "washi" paper to his chief steward.
Both Queen Victoria and Emperor Akihito could have shown nonchalance towards the Shah of Iran or Taro Yamamoto and moved on very quickly. However, they used their etiquette and diplomacy to benefit everyone, not just themselves. Maura Graber – Etiquette Historian stated that “protocol and etiquette is under the umbrella of diplomacy….as humanity evolves, diplomacy evolves along with it. Diplomacy has to evolve for society to keep going… it's very cyclical. As the modern era brings in modern dilemmas, etiquette and diplomacy have to change to confront those modern issues.“
It is always time for good manners........Readers, I want you to meet a very talented friend of mine. She is Petra Carsetti from Italy. From an early age, she showed a great passion for the table. Petra was born into a gastronomically minded family, but over the years she grew into an enthusiastic student of medicine. During university, Petra supported her medical studies by working in restaurants as a cook’s assistant. While there, she realized her true passion was food and wine, and subsequently diverted her studies to gastronomy and the festal table.
Since 2005, Petra has written many books on food and wine, along with guides to Italian restaurants, along with her husband, Carlo Cambi, a well-known journalist who writes articles for Italian media. Carlo was one of the founders of ‘I Viaggi di Repubblica,’ an Italian daily general-interest newspaper. He is a regular presence on a TV program on RAI1 called ‘La Prova del cuoco’. He writes on Italian economics, but has been made famous for his books on food and wine and has written over 12 more books called ‘Il Mangiarozzo’. This popular and well read book series helps the Italian gourmand traveller decide to which traditional restaurants to go, Italy-wide.
From 2017 Petra studied etiquette and now specialises in ‘galateo’ or etiquette, at the ‘Accademia Italiana Galateo’ and ANCEP (the Association of Ceremonialists for Public Institutes). Together, with knowledge gained over time and her husband’s foray into the food arena, Petra made an easy transition into her current profession, which is the history of etiquette, and it has evolved to modern etiquette. She is now teaching this subject all over Italy.
She teaches etiquette in schools to adults and children, is a consultant for various political and economic authorities, and has a weekly column in a historic newspaper. She also writes for various other newspapers, and has come out with her new book, “‘Galatime:’ it is always time for good manners!”
Petra continues to teach individuals and groups providing culinary experiences coupled with the etiquette of the table, socially and business. Her ultimate dream is to open the first etiquette and food museum in Italy, displaying tableware of long ago, so as not to forget how etiquette has changed and that dining is a truly beautiful experience to be shared.
Petra, in her own words, from my interview with her:
Petra what did you do in your early years for work? How long have you been researching food, and why? What else do have you specialized in?
“I started at the university at medical studies and to support myself I worked in restaurants as a cook assistant. I realized that my true passion was food and wine and therefore I directed my studies in this sector. I have written numerous cookbooks and a restaurant guide. My research on food therefore originates from my university days. So, attending many restaurants, I also became passionate about the equipment and the ‘mise en place,’ or having everything in its place. Consequently, I decided to study and specialize on the etiquette.”
Did you delve more into food when you married Carlo?
“Carlo is a great wine expert and in 2009 he won the “wine Oscar” as best journalist; it is no coincidence that he led tastings of famous wines such as Sassicaia or Champagne. Today he is called on various television broadcasts, he writes for various newspapers and for various publishing houses. I learned many things from my husband about wine and food, but my passion for food started when I was a child!”
How long have you been researching etiquette and why?
“My studies on etiquette and etiquette formally began in 2017. After losing my home and the editorial staff due to the earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016. In 2017, I decided to enroll at the ‘Accademia Italiana Galateo’ and to specialize more and more. Since then I have never stopped and I have directed my life towards this passion that constantly fascinates me.”
Today we see the rise of etiquette schools around the world from Africa to Asia via Instagram, teaching you in a few seconds how to sit elegantly. We have seen figures such as Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, transformed through their training in royal etiquette that improve their confidence, posture and body language and enable them to feel at ease and conduct themselves appropriately in a wide array of formal and non-formal events.
Finishing School’s of Yesterday
Finishing school were originally purposed to teach young women to enter society. For approximately one year they were sent to learn protocol, etiquette, languages, deportment, and household management. The point of this education, was to marry, conduct one-self with style and elegance and become the ‘face’ or positive representative of their family and/or husband.
Today etiquette and finishing schools are flourishing globally: migrants and businesspeople, in particular, have sensitised themselves to the reality that the respect and understanding of other cultures are the keys to unlocking the capacity to integrate and work successfully with others, for both themselves and their children. In doing so, they gain knowledge, confidence and the capacity to find that competitive edge within business and social situations.
The Global Etiquette and Finishing School Boom
By the 1970’s – 80’s they had slowly closed their doors, with wider society feeling the schools had little to offer. What, they wondered, did schools like the longest standing finishing school is IVP, Switzerland, where Madame Neri and family have dedicated their lives to teaching European etiquette to royalty, wives of diplomats, prime ministers, and society notables, have to do with them? With the advent of the Internet, globalisation and screens, the way in which we communicate has evolved rapidly – and some would argue that it has devolved. Etiquette schools themselves have adapted to such a change and now offer the ever-popular cross-cultural courses, business etiquette and open to anybody.
Their veritable explosion throughout Australasia is a testament to that, for etiquette schools offer courses that help one straddle the cultural divide between east and west through acquiring cultural sensitivity and competence. Programs detail western customs and expectations both within the private and work domains as well as more specific courses such as Continental dining and how to conduct a royal afternoon tea, which is all hugely popular and constantly sold out.
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Australians are viewed as a laid back and relaxed nation. Today, Australia has up to 220 different ethnicities coexisting together, culminating in a perception by others of not only being easy going but accepting and adventurous.
Colonisation of Australia by the British brought the class system into action however after World War I and II, Vietnam war, indigenous rights and multiculturalism, these ideals faded out. Today a commonly held belief in Australia is that everyone is equal and deserves equal rights and opportunities which is otherwise called egalitarianism. You’ll often hear that everyone deserves the right for a ‘fair go’.
The question now is, if Australians are relaxed and ‘laid back’, do they USE or NEED etiquette or protocols?
The answer is yes. Etiquette has changed in Australia over the years. It was introduced when English gentry settled here in the country’s colonial infancy. Essentially, etiquette, like new laws, relationships, and services which underwrote the changes to the country’s environment, economy, and society, has been re-written from the birth of Australia to our days today.
During an ABC radio interview with Richard Aedy, Ita Buttrose described Australian society as having changed over time to become “an informal society”. However, the fundamentals of how we treat each other have not changed over the years. Buttrose went onto say that manners “are a sign of a civilised society” that “make the world a much nicer place to be.”
There is an undercurrent of social norms and expectations in Australia, not obviously spelt out. For example, that
Generally, Australians will only be taught soft etiquette and protocols skills through school, and often indirectly. Later, further skills are picked up via work, friends, family, partner and while travelling. The majority will know, understand, and perform cultural traditions as a matter of respect and showing willingness to integrate and accept one another.
Those who work for government, parliament, defence, the judiciary system, ambassadorial and indigenous programs, and international business will be specifically taught these subjects. For further reading, I recommend the following:
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