‘Because You Are Polite’ column

by Ginger Philbrick

I imagine we have all had favorite ways of conquering boredom if we are self-quarantining. I just might be the only one of us though who brought out the manners books and happily thumbed through their pages. There is a wealth of history in those books, and I thought you might be interested in knowing some of it.

For instance:

For centuries, the fashionable etiquette in Europe and America was to hold the little finger out from its fellow fingers when eating or drinking. This custom dated back as far as 1200 A.D. in France, where most foods were eaten with the fingers.

Spoons had been invented and were used for soup, but meat and vegetables were taken from a common platter with the thumb and following three digits. Mannerly diners saved the little finger, holding it…

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