Louise and Barry Berlin share a laugh with me at a big restaurant opening recently.

I had a few friends over for dinner last night, including my friends Barry and Louise Berlin. Louise asked if it is okay to use your bread as a “pusher” – as in using it to push the salad onto your fork.

She was surprised when I ran to my bookshelf to retrieve my copy of “Etiquette for Dummies.” I explained that I went to a source because while I was quite certain I knew the answer, I really wanted to be sure … and when it comes to this particular question, I remembered that there are actually several different answers!  That’s the thing about etiquette – different behaviors apply to different situations. MOST of these variations are simply based on the differences between formal and casual settings; bread as a pusher is no exception!

I was able to share with Louise and another friend, Edy, that in a CASUAL setting, it’s okay to use your bread as a PUSHER! BUT – in a more formal setting, it is not. No wonder I couldn’t remember!

Pick up a copy and be sure you're on the right track!

It’s funny to me that many people are often too intimidated to dine with me. I try to put them at ease by explaining that I was only able to write my book, “The Art of the Business Lunch” because I had already made every mistake there is to make; why not learn from my experiences? Why must we make every mistake ourselves? 🙂 But I do know a lot when it comes to etiquette … I even speak on it!

So, where does the FUN come in? We started reading all about bread at the dinner table – how to pass it (to the right), how to take a slice (using the napkin to hold the loaf while you tear off a slice), and how you must put butter on your dish and then butter your bread; never take butter directly from the community plate and put it on your bread.

I think it’s fascinating to read about etiquette and discover all the little nuances that add grace to a client lunch or business dinner. If you’ve ever wondered about exactly what to do, pick up a copy of an etiquette book. You’ll really find it enjoyable and some of the tips are sure to surprise you!