As a caterer, I often bring in young men and women to assist with the service part of an event.
The table settings can be rather complicated, so I provide a diagram or set one place as an example. Even with an example, sometimes they still set it wrong. I can understand getting confused on which goes first - salad or dinner fork, but not even knowing which side of the plate to put the forks on surprises me!
Then, last week I saw not one but two pictures on Facebook of Missing Man Tables in prominent places with the utensils on the wrong side of the plate! These were places that should have known better. Obviously, there is a breakdown from the older generation to the younger on basic table etiquette - but why?
The first reason that comes to mind is we don't cook and we don't eat at our dining tables anymore. Meals are consumed out of take-out boxes in front of the television or in a car. Utensils are either bundled tightly inside a napkin or in a sealed cellophane bag. Another reason, and perhaps the most significant reason young people are not properly versed on table setting, is the lack of educational programs in etiquette.
In sixth grade, my mother sent me to a charm school offered after school at J.C. Penney. (No smart remarks and, yes, I passed.) A big part of the class was spent on proper table etiquette. That was reiterated to me in junior high in Home Economics, a class that has virtually disappeared in our modern day curriculum. At what point did we decide that educating future generations on things of etiquette was no longer important, and why?
We spend copious amounts of money educating our children so they can succeed in life, so we need to be sure we teach them how to live in their success. At some point on the way up the ladder they will probably attend a formal dinner. We, as parents, need to make sure they are at least knowledgeable enough to know which fork to use and what a bread plate is for!
Table setting can easily be taught at every meal. Download a place setting diagram from the internet, print a diagram out, laminate it and make it your child's placemat. Have your child set the utensils, whether plastic or real, in the proper place before they begin to eat. Expose your children to formal dining as they get older by taking them to nice restaurants for lunch. Lunch menus are usually less expensive, but they get the same table service as dinner.
Please take a little time to teach your little ones basic etiquette, such as table setting and table manners. They will be better adults for it. As Judith Martin, "Miss Manners," so eloquently said: Freedom without rules doesn't work. And communities do not work unless they are regulated by etiquette.
Now I'll step down from my soap box and give you a recipe or two. This is, after all a food column!
I love holidays (and pretty properly set tables), but I have always found it a challenge to serve breakfast for all the overnight guests and get Thanksgiving lunch prepared on time. Of course a breakfast casserole is the answer - but the oven is usually occupied by the time they roll out of bed. Solution: Bake it the night before and refrigerate. This one is really easy using Pillsbury cinnamon roll dough.
Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie's Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to sophiesmarketplace.com.
Cinnamon Roll Casserole
2 tablespoons of melted butter or baking spray
2 cans (12.4 oz each) refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (icing reserved)
Â½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped Pecans
Â¼ cup maple syrup + 1 teaspoon
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Pour melted butter into a 3-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Separate both cans of dough into 16 rolls; set icing aside. Cut each roll into 6 pieces. Place the chopped cinnamon rolls over the melted butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, cinnamon & vanilla until combined. Drizzle the mixture over the cinnamon rolls. Sprinkle with pecans; drizzle with Â¼ cup maple syrup.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove covers from the icing; microwave for about 15 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle. Stir in 1 teaspoon of maple syrup. Drizzle over the cinnamon roll casserole.