If you have seen the movie "Pretty Woman" you may recall when she was invited to a very fancy restaurant, the setting was complicated and she was totally confused. She watched others and was able to get through the meal just fine. Right up to the point where she shot the escargot (snails) across the room. Mistakes will be made. If you make a mistake, simply smile and move on.
A variety shapes and sizes of of spoons, forks and knives may be present when you sit down. For most formal meals it is highly likely that you will be provided with two or three forks, several styles of spoons and knives. Using the correct utensil for each course is critical. You may find yourself looking at eight to ten options. Occasionally the proper utensils may be provided with each course, but that is more an exception than the rule. You will want to know exactly what to do when the silverware is already on the table. A setting is also referred to as a service.
Utensils are normally arranged depending upon their order of use. Starting from the plate, utensils are set in the order they will be used, from the outside to the inside closest to your plate. For example, your salad is usually the first course, but not always. Simply proceed from one utensil to the next. It is very important for you to clearly distinguish between the types forks on the table. Apart from the oyster fork, which is placed in the bowl of a spoon on the right-hand side, all the other forks are used in order from the outside to the inside.
Mastering how to use the fork and knife when cutting is one of the hardest things to master. According to etiquette, you should hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand. The fork is used to hold the food as you reduce it to bite-size pieces by use of the knife. Once you cut a piece of food, place the knife in such a manner that the handle is on the table while the blade rests on the right side of the plate. After the knife is placed correctly, the fork is normally switched to the right hand for eating.
When you are not using your fork, there are a couple of ways of placing it. One, you can continue holding in the right hand such that the fork’s tine are pointing downwards. Secondly, you can place the fork in a similar way as the knife.
Flaky and soft food
For flaky or soft food, like fish, the table etiquette varies slightly form the above facts. With such foods, the knife should not be used for cutting. Chunking up or sawing the food goes against proper table manners. Depending with the establishment, a fish knife will be brought together with the meal. In such a case, you hold and use the fish knife in a similar way as using a scalpel or a pen. If the fish knife is not provided, you can use the fork. With the fork in your right hand, press down the tines of the fork such that it slides a bite-size chunk of the food.