The Guest Gets the Best

The guest of honor natural receives the choicest morsels, and is expected to lead the way when necessary. With a fish course, the fish head would be left for the guest of honor – and it is the most nutritious part (the eyes and lips are the valued delicacies offered to the senior lady present). The platter holding the fish will always be laid on the table in such a way that the fish head points towards the guest of honor (at family meals, the head faces the head of the clip image002 thumb7 The Guest Gets the Bestfamily). If visitors find that they are the guest of honor and are unwilling to accept the duties involved, they should always delegate the honor to the person on their left, or politely turn the platter so that the fish head faces the host.

At the end of the meal, when the guest of honor feels that everyone appears to have had their fill of post-prandial brandy or ceremonial final cups of tea, he should rise. In theory, no other diner can rise until the guest of honor has, and such a social nicety has often resulted in a meal being very lengthy! Nowadays, however, the host will usually give an appropriate, discreet hint to the guest of honor.

In a restaurant, the signs that a meal is ending are more obvious. A bowl of fruit will be presented, fresh towels will be provided for wiping mouths and hands, and the final pot of tea – a ceremonial farewell greeting – will not be refilled.

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