How you hold your knife and fork, where you place your napkin, how you sit - the way we eat reveals a lot about us. But it's not just about observing the rules. Table manners are about more than simple customs. They are about courtesy.
How so? Not tasting your food before seasoning might be taken as a slight by your host. Chewing noisily might upset your fellow diners. Leaning over your neighbour to reach the pepper is not only rude but risks tips, spills and embarrassment.
Or course the essence of good table manners is to make any meal a more enjoyable experience. Making sure others have been offered anything they might want from the table , such as butter or water means they can enjoy their meal more easily.
And so it's the idea of courtesy that makes table manners so important. Because whilst your host may understand you not following their customs, they'll find it a lot harder to forgive what they consider rudeness.
Understanding the rules means you can relax in the knowledge that you are the perfect guest. And that allows you to focus on what is important – enjoying good food and convivial company.