The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

how not to have boorish buffet manners

In the spirit of Sunday-after-church-buffets, here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts when you are dining with the masses.

  • Remain calm.  I know it’s alarming to see all those people in line ahead of you (there’s only so much fried chicken in the world, right?), but it’s not likely the restaurant will run out of food.  Wait patiently. 
  • When you start to select a plate from the buffet table, feel free to inspect it to make sure it’s clean.  But, if you find that it’s dirty, don’t put it back on the stack for the person behind you to pick up. You can give it to a server to take back to the kitchen.
  • As you begin to serve your plate, remember you don’t have to get it all at once.  Don’t pile your plate high.  It looks greedy and is usually wasteful.
  • No nibbling while you go through the food line! Putting your fingers in your mouth while you are also touching the server handles is a sure-fire way to spread germs.
  • If you bring something tasty from the buffet back to a tablemate, put it on a separate plate from your own.  It’s more polite to hand him his own plate than to move the food from your plate to his.
  • If you are with a group, wait to begin eating until everyone is back at the table with their plates.
  • It’s likely your table will end up filled with plates.  Resist the urge to stack up all the used plates.  Wait for the server to remove them, instead.
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