Latest Stories

Modern Manners

The bread plate is on your left


If the fact that your bread plate is on the left is something you have known most part of your life, it may be surprising to some that people still make mistakes. But rather than judge, it is much better to educate. As such, a simple lesson on bread etiquette may just be the order for the day.

At a recent conference, attended by presidents and CEOs of a specific industry, a friend told me a story. She was seated at a table with the president of a well-known company. Pleased to be in the company of such an esteemed group, she was all set to enjoy the dinner.

She took a roll from the bread basket and placed it on the bread plate on the left-hand side of her table setting. The man next to her said, “Excuse me, but that’s my plate.” By now she was speechless and dumbfounded.

Then she realized that if she didn’t correct this man, he would only make the same mistake. So, she went on to explain that bread plates are to the left while glasses are to the right. His answer was an airtight “No, the bread is to the right.” Exasperated by now, she took the bread and ate it from her dinner show plate.



That is still not the end of the story. The man next to her then helped himself to a dinner roll and began to use the butter knife to slice the bread in half, spread butter, and make it into a sandwich. I use this joke a lot when I am giving lectures, and I always get a laugh out of the audience.

But when it happens in public—and this story happened just last weekend—it is enough to leave the entire table in embarrassing awkwardness. This time, my friend chose to remain silent.

Bread is placed on the bread and butter plate, on the left hand side of your setting. The butter knife is used with the right hand.  Bread is broken using the thumb and forefingers in small bite-sized pieces. The knife is used only to spread the butter on the bread.  Never use the butter knife to slice the bread, nor should you slice the bread in half and make yourself a sandwich. Resist any temptation to dunk the bread in the soup.

Rules of etiquette are norms so that people can be comfortable with each other. Breaches in etiquette make people around you uncomfortable, and may lead them to have a negative opinion about you. I’m not saying that judging others is right; I’m simply stating what is inherent in human nature.

When we forget our manners, people tend to form opinions. Wouldn’t you prefer that they get to know you first, rather than form an opinion just because you neglected to brush up on basic table etiquette? And this is just the bread.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Other Stories:

No related posts found!

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bread plate , table etiquette

  • http://twitter.com/ComplainerChua TheComplainer

    a suggestion, at home you use only 1 spoon & 1 fork. why make it so complicated when you eat in a restaurant?
    just use your MAIN plate since it is the one in front of you. if you need to change it then ask the waiter for another new plate. i assure you the waiter will not disagree with your request.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CITTBMBODMZHHGMEC4DCTVSVY4 Francesca Aguilar

    This is very life-changing. 

  • ilyang

    don’t be so stress out for something that do not really matter much. are you from the royal blood. i don’t think so too. filipinos can even eat using hands if they wished too. i see indians eat in posh places using their bare hands. don’t be so high standard and don’t expect much as not everyone was blessed with what you have acquired in style (who cares)/  if don’t like eating with not so educated when eating out then stay at home and you can be above all in all your acts. after all you are a filipino right?

  • feargo

    so i suppose you’ll call eating with hands  ‘uncivilized’! table manners differ from culture to culture – don’t impose them on us.

  • AllaMo

    Etiquette, schmetiqutte. The unnamed man was uncouth, not for not knowing where or how to buttter his bread, but for arguing with the etiquette-burdened lady. We all do not have pretensions to nobility. Yet, we all eat to live. 

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Summer Mayhem: The ultimate beach experience
  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme