June 13, 2007

Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining

My boys, ages 7 and 9, prepared a list of fine dining etiquette:

DO: eat with your mouth closed, wear fancy clothes

DON’T: burp, fart, drop utensils, talk loudly, bring your own food, eat messy

Uh, well, that’s a start I suppose. Clearly they need to learn more, but I wasn’t sure I was equipped to teach them until I found this great primer for adults by Chicagoan Colleen Rush—The Mere Mortals Guide to Fine Dining: from salad forks to sommeliers, how to eat and drink in style without fear of faux pas.

The book serves up witty, accessible advice from a mere mortal’s standpoint, rather than the position of snooty, holier than thou expert who discretely implies that you must have been raised in a barn.

Rush offers tips on how to behave in upscale establishments (first off, don’t let your anxiety about doing the wrong thing keep you from enjoying your expensive meal). She provides a who’s who, explaining the roles of everyone from the sommelier to the sous chef, and the what’s what, detailing all those forks and glasses.

In addition, Rush provides an excellent overview of drinks from aperitifs to Zinfandel and meals from fish to fowl. For those who like to impress, she also includes how to say “tastes like chicken” in five languages. On a related topic, there’s also a French cram session to help you decode the an upscale French menu.

Chapter 12 “Eatiquette: things your mama probably taught you (but your forgot)” is great for parents. Over the course of several Q and A Rush explains things like:

When it’s okay to eat with your hands (artichoke leaves, crispy bacon, unsauced asparagus, corn on the cob, strawberries with stems attached).

Whether you should bring your children (Does the establishment have a kids menu? Have you notified them of your intent to bring a pint-sized guest?)

And, when its okay to blow you nose at the table? (Never!)

For a few more of Rush's tips click here.

Whether you’re on a date night or dining en famille, this book will prepare you for a great fine dining experience.

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