Often I am at events where this question is in mind, if not actually spoken. For most of us, our home table setting consists of plate, knife, fork, napkin and glass placed in no particular order. Eating out at a restaurant or a social or business event presents us with more options. I have been at events where if you are seated at a round table and someone selects the wrong bread plate, everyone else can simply also choose the wrong bread plate. However, recently I was at a restaurant at a square table and one person selecting the wrong bread plate left the person sitting next to them with no bread plate.
A recent article in the Washington Post Arts section (June 16, 2013) talked about one visitor’s account of dining at Hillwood, the Washington, DC, estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post. The visitor stated that if you “reached for the wrong utensil, a footman’s ‘white glove would magically appear and direct you to the right one.'” Since most of us aren’t going to have the diagram above in our pocket or a footman to help us, here is a simple trick to help you remember. Make a circle with your index finger and thumb with the other fingers pointing up. You will note that the circled fingers on your left hand form a “b”; the bread plate is on your left. The circled fingers on your right hand form a “d”; the drink glass is on your right. Hopefully, this will help so that no one is left without a bread plate.