Monday, August 9, 2010

Finger Bowl Follies, Foibles and Faux-Pas...Who Cares?

Old and high fashioned, out of date, too formal and fancy, stuffy Victorian accoutrement! When in the world would one ever see, much less use a finger bowl? Who cares? I'll tell you who cares: Those In The Know.

Yes. I have at my finger tips an entire plethora of finger biting, finger bowl faux-pas stories involving very well educated, very well paid professionals, and high society players .

One story involves one lawyer at his own Junior Partner dinner celebration. Beautifully educated at a private school, a prestigious university and a paramount law school, he drank his finger bowl in front of his peers and Senior Partners. Not wanting to embarrass him then, Those In The Know quietly drank their finger bowls as well. The perennial problem began Monday morning around the water cooler when this Junior Partner's reputation became company folklore, forever pegging him as "the dude who drank his finger bowl." Those in the Know thought to themselves: "If he missed the finger bowl etiquette, what else did he miss?" The story of this finger bowl faux-pas also permeated company walls and got around town. Needless to say, this lawyer has never made Senior Partner. Who cares? You should!

Maybe you will only see one finger bowl in your entire lifetime, at an important company dinner, or paramount social gathering, or on your Honeymoon. I guarantee, you will want to know how to recognize the finger bowl, its variations, and how to manipulate your finger bowl. You do not want to embarrass yourself at what will likely be a most important night in your professional or personal life.

Alright, so maybe you know enough not to drink it because it may have one half slice of lemon, lime or a sprig of a green garnish in it, and you know how to use it, but do you know enough about what to do with a doily or where to place your finger bowl when done, or what to do when the finger bowl is served on top of a dessert plate instead of its own stand? What if it is also served with a dessert fork and dessert spoon? What to do?

The following are a few tips to help avoid fumbling with your finger bowl:

When using your finger bowl, daintily dab the tips of your fingers, one hand at a time, into the warm water, then slowly place each hand in your napkin to dry.

Sometimes, finger bowls are served with their own "stands" (plate), which makes for easy manipulation.

  • Lift the entire bowl and stand with BOTH hands and place it to the upper left of your plate when done.

Sometimes, finger bowls are served with a paper or lace & linen doily on top of the dessert plate.

Sometimes, the dessert fork and dessert spoon also are placed on top of the doily on top of the dessert plate.

  • First, "place" your dessert fork and spoon onto your place setting in front of you at the table. The dessert fork is placed to the left and your dessert spoon to the right of your dessert plate.
  • Second, use the finger bowl.
  • Third, when done with the finger bowl, be sure to remove the doily AND bowl with BOTH hands and place it to the upper left of your dessert plate. This way, the waiter can place your dessert onto your dessert plate directly, and does not have to place your silverware for you, or move your doily out of the way.

Always use both hands when moving the finger bowl, no matter how small. Yes, I have many stories about spilled finger bowls all over the table after one has had one's hands in the water...yuck!

Yes, I also have a story about a wealthy male suitor during the 1950's at THE fancy lunch of the intended fiance's Victorian parents. The wealthy suitor certainly knew what a finger bowl was, but did not know to remove the lovely linen doily on top of his dessert plate. The butler stood at his side with dessert in hand in silence for a minute until the suitor finally figured out he needed to also remove his doily....then the thought of what to do with the lovely linen doily flashed through his head as the finger bowl has already been placed. Doily dilemma! The wealthy suitor finally placed the doily quickly in his lap, thanked the butler, tasted the chocolate dessert, then quickly complimented the host and hostess, his future In-Laws. They must have liked him very much. Doily disaster dashed! Phew!

Yes, who cares about the Victorians or the 1950's? Who cares about removing your doily or placing your dessert spoon yourself ? Who cares about the etiquette of finger bowls? Those In The Know care!

1 comment:

  1. I always provide a finger bowl for guests dining at my home. Far from being outmoded and ostentatious, they are quite practical. There are several foods that may be eaten with the fingers, these always leave a slight residue, a finger bowl is perfect for cleaning the fingers. And even the most careful diner may get something on their fingers, once again the finger bowl comes to the rescue. Besides, they are simply beautiful.


We enjoy hearing from you anytime and thank you for your valuable comments.