Until I had children, I thought plates were used to hold one’s foodstuffs away from the table so as to make cleanup easier, promote manners and be the basis for social graces and, you know, general civilization. Pave the way for knife and fork, don’tcha know. Separate us from the beasts, and all that.
I must have been mistaken.
In actuality, the following is a cursory list of things that must never touch the plate:
– anything that you don’t wish to eat
– anything you may have spit or pulled out of your mouth, with or without first masticating
– anything that is full of sauce, grease or other coating that you don’t wish to touch to any other food on your plate
– anything that you are not currently eating
– anything you are currently eating but have to put down momentarily for some other pursuit, say, wiping your hands on your shirt (did you think I was going to say napkin? pshaw)
For these categories it is imperative to place the said object either directly onto the table, or on a napkin. The benefit of using the napkin is that you now have nothing to wipe your mouth on except for your shoulder. (Napkins -despite what you may have been taught – aren’t for wiping one’s hands and face with, anyway. Topic of another post.)
What IS to be on the plate? Good question, I’ll have to get back to you after I consult the experts once more. I still haven’t quite figured that out.