7 Rules Of Dining Etiquette We Learned From Movies

Who needs to pay for etiquette class when you can have a movie marathon?

Have you ever found yourself at an upscale restaurant or banquet and thought, "I hope I don't make a fool of myself"? Of course you haven't. Because you've learned everything you need to know about fine dining from watching movies.

When it comes to culinary quandaries, cinema has managed to provide answers to all of life's toughest questions, like "What am I supposed to wear to a five-star restaurant?" and "Which of these twelve forks should I use?" What follows are seven important lessons on how to make it through any kind of dinner party, whether it's fancy, awkward, or full of unreasonable expectations—and each bit of wisdom was imparted to us by a beloved film.

Sit up straight (The Princess Diaries)

In The Princess Diaries, Julie Andrews is tasked with transforming Anne Hathaway from frazzled high schooler to poised royal—and one of her greatest lessons is in a scene where she teaches her charge the finer points of dining. Mia must learn to carry herself as a princess instead of an average American teenager, and so her grandmother, the queen, ties her to a chair using an Hermes scarf. Mia must eat her salad while strapped to her chair with this scarf. The lesson? Polite dining doesn't include hunching over one's plate.


Elbows off the table (Pretty Woman)

A number of lessons are imparted to Julia Roberts' character throughout Pretty Woman, but the most helpful are the fine dining tips she picks up from the manager of a hotel. Through his instruction, we learn to keep our elbows off the table and our napkins in our laps. And this wasn't exactly the point, but the dinner also demonstrates the hazards of ordering escargot, because those slippery little suckers might go flying off your plate.


No slurping (A League of Their Own)

A League of Their Own is a movie that tells the fictionalized story of the incredible real women who played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Upon joining the league, however, the women aren't considered all that exceptional; they are required to attend charm school in order to be made into proper "ladies." Though this is a ridiculous requirement, we did come away with the valuable etiquette tip that beverages should always be sipped, never slurped.


Start from the outside and work your way in (Titanic)

The iconic Titanic gave us a wonderfully gilded depiction of how those with money behaved in the early 20th century. When Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is invited to dine with the first class passengers, he's thrown into a social situation he's completely unfamiliar with. (Who can relate?) Sitting at the table in a borrowed suit, when dinner is served he's baffled by the long line of utensils surrounding his plate. Thankfully, Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) tells him simply, "start from the outside and work your way in." Meaning, with each successive course, you're using the utensils closer to the plate. The next time you find yourself at an elaborate place setting, let James Cameron be your guide.


Twirl your spaghetti with poise (Brooklyn)

In the movie Brooklyn, Irish immigrant Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) must learn how to eat foods utterly foreign to her before dining with her boyfriend's very Italian family—including spaghetti, which she's never had before. So as not to fling any sauce off the slippery ends of any falling noodles, Eilis twirls her spaghetti around her fork and then anchors them against a spoon to secure them before moving the fork up to her mouth. Eating a saucy pasta dish during a fine dining experience can be a challenge to even the most well-mannered of people. This little trick might save you from making a mess of both the table and your face.


Try to be subtle about foods you don’t like (Big)

The winning concept of Big is that Josh (Tom Hanks) is a 12-year-old boy who is turned into an adult man overnight. In light of this sudden transformation, it's not surprising that his inner child has no idea how to behave at an office cocktail party. He immediately assaults the hors d'oeuvre table, double- and triple-dipping his crudite into the sauce (don't do this!) and nibbles away at a piece of baby corn like it's a full-sized serving of corn on the cob (don't do this either!). Worst of all might be when Josh, finding out halfway through a big bite that he actually hates caviar, spits the whole thing out and begins theatrically wiping his mouth out with a napkin. Lessons learned: Add sauce to your plate if you intend to double-dip, and start with small bites of unfamiliar foods.


Don’t sip from the finger bowl (Shrek 2)

This incredibly awkward, over-the-top dinner scene from Shrek 2 shows that even fairy tale creatures are held to high standards at the table. Shrek mistakes a "finger bowl" full of water, meant for washing one's hands before the meal, as a soup course, slurping up a big spoonful before realizing his mistake. He might have clocked this earlier if he weren't so intent on diving into the grub. So in addition to finger bowl etiquette, this scene teaches us the importance of looking up from your plate every once in a while to take in the dinner guests around you.