Dinner Table Hierarchy

Those of you who thought serving food at the dinner table is a simple and quick process are quite wrong. I have noticed this especially since I started being in charge of cooking. In our household there are rules. The person who has cooked the food brings it to the table, then usually my mother takes control and serves the food; she does so by following four basic, and unbreakable, rules:

  1. First go the males, then the females.
  2. First go the visitors, then go the house owners.
  3. First go the grown-ups, then the kids.
  4. The person serving goes last.

These four laws must be combined, of course. On a day with no visitors first my father will be served, then me, my older sister, my younger sister and in last place my mother. I am still wondering why I am before my older sister; either it’s because I am always hungrier or, following the first rule, am more boyish.

Say, for example, we have visitors: a husband, wife and two kids (one boy, one girl). Then first will go the husband, then the boy, my father, the wife, the girl, me, my sisters and lastly my mother.

The only cases this sequence can be broken is if somebody has an unordinary eating diet, in which case they will go last (e.g. vegetarian) or the person holds a position of power, in which case they would always go first (e.g. a business women comes to visit).

You are also mistaken if you thought I haven’t tried many different ways of changing this; I abused of my birthday privileges (this basically means the birthday kid gets whatever they want), I left the plate of food at the opposite side of the table, I tried to convince visitors to cross dress (with little to no success), I gave my mother the feminist talk and asked her a whole lot of questions as to why our family had to serve food to father first… none of it worked. If I one day become a parent (insert laugh here) I will not follow these, or any other, serving rules.


So who’s first?

4 thoughts on “Dinner Table Hierarchy

  1. Visitors/”Guests” first is polite and I don’t see a problem with it. So is “server going last”, it’s like… serving yourself while other people are waiting is “rude”. In the end, that doesn’t ‘matter’, though, and if you’re a kind person most people won’t care about how you practice “serving etiquette”.

    But children tend to go first in American households and really, gender doesn’t matter at all in the places I’ve been to. I’m sorry gender seems to play such a strong role for you. 😉 Even if you never have children, you can break these rules whenever you are serving food in your life. 😛 And feel good about it.

  2. Wow, that’s a whole lot of rules. I just lay all the food out buffet style and let whomever is there have at it. Although, I do invite guests to serve themselves first, so I guess I have that one rule, too.

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