The intricate details that elevate a dinner’s character follow their own rules. These ensure the dinner table has rhythm, harmony, and a good energy flow between the attendees.
What is a more delicious mouthful than that of hot bread with butter? I love to cut my bread by hand, enjoying each bite’s crisp sound, texture, and aroma.
In the company of others, though, mouthfuls become small and discreet. When I know, however, that a meal of at least 2-4 dishes follows, I enjoy my bread without over-indulging.
The individual bread plate is placed at the top left of the main plate above the forks, and the butter knife is placed on the saucer at a 45-degree angle.
- If the butter has been served in the middle of the table, use the serving knife to cut a piece so you can enjoy more than just a bite.
- Place the butter on the bread saucer. Then, cut a small bite from your piece of bread by hand. With your knife, gently spread butter on the bite and bring it to your mouth. Each subsequent bite is cut and prepared in the same way.
- If there is no individual bread on your plate and the bread is in a basket in front of you, take one bun and pass the basket to the guest to your right.
- Follow the same rule (take one and pass it over to your guest) with everything placed in the center of the table.
- Opt for a second or third bun only if there are enough in the basket for everyone.
- Do not use the butter knife to cut your bread.
- Once you have cut a piece of butter from the middle of the table, do not cut another piece later. Serve yourself only if a new piece of butter arrives.
- Do not place any used utensils on the table.
- Do not offer bread by hand.
- The habit of eating bread with butter surprisingly originated outside the kitchen! In 1519, Copernicus realized that the plague was transmitted through bread in his attempt to fight the plague epidemic. One of his companions suggested that bread be smeared with a light-colored coating when bread had either fallen or made contact with a substance. Through this method, bread and butter were coupled.
- The poor people of the Mediterranean replaced butter with oil, as butter was expensive and scarce. The Greek expression “voutiropaeda” (butter children) refers to wealthy families’ children.