It is always time for good manners........Readers, I want you to meet a very talented friend of mine. She is Petra Carsetti from Italy. From an early age, she showed a great passion for the table. Petra was born into a gastronomically minded family, but over the years she grew into an enthusiastic student of medicine. During university, Petra supported her medical studies by working in restaurants as a cook’s assistant. While there, she realized her true passion was food and wine, and subsequently diverted her studies to gastronomy and the festal table.
Since 2005, Petra has written many books on food and wine, along with guides to Italian restaurants, along with her husband, Carlo Cambi, a well-known journalist who writes articles for Italian media. Carlo was one of the founders of ‘I Viaggi di Repubblica,’ an Italian daily general-interest newspaper. He is a regular presence on a TV program on RAI1 called ‘La Prova del cuoco’. He writes on Italian economics, but has been made famous for his books on food and wine and has written over 12 more books called ‘Il Mangiarozzo’. This popular and well read book series helps the Italian gourmand traveller decide to which traditional restaurants to go, Italy-wide.
From 2017 Petra studied etiquette and now specialises in ‘galateo’ or etiquette, at the ‘Accademia Italiana Galateo’ and ANCEP (the Association of Ceremonialists for Public Institutes). Together, with knowledge gained over time and her husband’s foray into the food arena, Petra made an easy transition into her current profession, which is the history of etiquette, and it has evolved to modern etiquette. She is now teaching this subject all over Italy.
She teaches etiquette in schools to adults and children, is a consultant for various political and economic authorities, and has a weekly column in a historic newspaper. She also writes for various other newspapers, and has come out with her new book, “‘Galatime:’ it is always time for good manners!”
Petra continues to teach individuals and groups providing culinary experiences coupled with the etiquette of the table, socially and business. Her ultimate dream is to open the first etiquette and food museum in Italy, displaying tableware of long ago, so as not to forget how etiquette has changed and that dining is a truly beautiful experience to be shared.
Petra, in her own words, from my interview with her:
Petra what did you do in your early years for work? How long have you been researching food, and why? What else do have you specialized in?
“I started at the university at medical studies and to support myself I worked in restaurants as a cook assistant. I realized that my true passion was food and wine and therefore I directed my studies in this sector. I have written numerous cookbooks and a restaurant guide. My research on food therefore originates from my university days. So, attending many restaurants, I also became passionate about the equipment and the ‘mise en place,’ or having everything in its place. Consequently, I decided to study and specialize on the etiquette.”
Did you delve more into food when you married Carlo?
“Carlo is a great wine expert and in 2009 he won the “wine Oscar” as best journalist; it is no coincidence that he led tastings of famous wines such as Sassicaia or Champagne. Today he is called on various television broadcasts, he writes for various newspapers and for various publishing houses. I learned many things from my husband about wine and food, but my passion for food started when I was a child!”
How long have you been researching etiquette and why?
“My studies on etiquette and etiquette formally began in 2017. After losing my home and the editorial staff due to the earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016. In 2017, I decided to enroll at the ‘Accademia Italiana Galateo’ and to specialize more and more. Since then I have never stopped and I have directed my life towards this passion that constantly fascinates me.”
Today we see the rise of etiquette schools around the world from Africa to Asia via Instagram, teaching you in a few seconds how to sit elegantly. We have seen figures such as Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, transformed through their training in royal etiquette that improve their confidence, posture and body language and enable them to feel at ease and conduct themselves appropriately in a wide array of formal and non-formal events.
Finishing School’s of Yesterday
Finishing school were originally purposed to teach young women to enter society. For approximately one year they were sent to learn protocol, etiquette, languages, deportment, and household management. The point of this education, was to marry, conduct one-self with style and elegance and become the ‘face’ or positive representative of their family and/or husband.
Today etiquette and finishing schools are flourishing globally: migrants and businesspeople, in particular, have sensitised themselves to the reality that the respect and understanding of other cultures are the keys to unlocking the capacity to integrate and work successfully with others, for both themselves and their children. In doing so, they gain knowledge, confidence and the capacity to find that competitive edge within business and social situations.
The Global Etiquette and Finishing School Boom
By the 1970’s – 80’s they had slowly closed their doors, with wider society feeling the schools had little to offer. What, they wondered, did schools like the longest standing finishing school is IVP, Switzerland, where Madame Neri and family have dedicated their lives to teaching European etiquette to royalty, wives of diplomats, prime ministers, and society notables, have to do with them? With the advent of the Internet, globalisation and screens, the way in which we communicate has evolved rapidly – and some would argue that it has devolved. Etiquette schools themselves have adapted to such a change and now offer the ever-popular cross-cultural courses, business etiquette and open to anybody.
Their veritable explosion throughout Australasia is a testament to that, for etiquette schools offer courses that help one straddle the cultural divide between east and west through acquiring cultural sensitivity and competence. Programs detail western customs and expectations both within the private and work domains as well as more specific courses such as Continental dining and how to conduct a royal afternoon tea, which is all hugely popular and constantly sold out.
Article published by Luxury Advisor >>
Australians are viewed as a laid back and relaxed nation. Today, Australia has up to 220 different ethnicities coexisting together, culminating in a perception by others of not only being easy going but accepting and adventurous.
Colonisation of Australia by the British brought the class system into action however after World War I and II, Vietnam war, indigenous rights and multiculturalism, these ideals faded out. Today a commonly held belief in Australia is that everyone is equal and deserves equal rights and opportunities which is otherwise called egalitarianism. You’ll often hear that everyone deserves the right for a ‘fair go’.
The question now is, if Australians are relaxed and ‘laid back’, do they USE or NEED etiquette or protocols?
The answer is yes. Etiquette has changed in Australia over the years. It was introduced when English gentry settled here in the country’s colonial infancy. Essentially, etiquette, like new laws, relationships, and services which underwrote the changes to the country’s environment, economy, and society, has been re-written from the birth of Australia to our days today.
During an ABC radio interview with Richard Aedy, Ita Buttrose described Australian society as having changed over time to become “an informal society”. However, the fundamentals of how we treat each other have not changed over the years. Buttrose went onto say that manners “are a sign of a civilised society” that “make the world a much nicer place to be.”
There is an undercurrent of social norms and expectations in Australia, not obviously spelt out. For example, that
Generally, Australians will only be taught soft etiquette and protocols skills through school, and often indirectly. Later, further skills are picked up via work, friends, family, partner and while travelling. The majority will know, understand, and perform cultural traditions as a matter of respect and showing willingness to integrate and accept one another.
Those who work for government, parliament, defence, the judiciary system, ambassadorial and indigenous programs, and international business will be specifically taught these subjects. For further reading, I recommend the following:
This article can be found:
I thought that talking about tea ceremonies would be about dining etiquette. After I delved deeper, I realized that this would be linked to three spheres of etiquette – social, dining, and business. Yes, for a Russian, it is everything.
Russian tea-drinking traditions are not as famous as British afternoon tea or Japanese sadō-chadō. It was in Moscow where the Russian tea ceremony was founded and where I have lived most of my life, and it is something that I am so passionate about. So, let me introduce the Russian tea ceremony.
This was not common practice in other parts of Russia. You can find evidence of this in such classical novels such as Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin or Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. More can be found in Russian literature, diaries, and memoirs.
From 1810 onward, the Russians began to drink tea the English way, with cream or milk. Unlike the British, we add milk to tea and not tea to milk. Everything English became popular in Russia during this period. Tea with lemon, uniquely Russian, could be found on restaurants’ menus around the 1880s and was all the rage in the second half of the 19th century.
Many families still cook different sorts of varenje and have their own recipe, handed down from generation to generation. We serve it in long-legged bowls and give each guest a small saucer - rosette. We do not put varenje on toast; we eat it with a teaspoon and drink tea.
The Russian climate is known for long and frosty winters where hot drinks are especially favored. Along with tea, food plays a serious role. In everyday life, many families finish their lunch or dinner with tea. Even Czars drank tea with snacks, in the past. When I host a family dinner, I will end with tea and cake. I offer plain baked items which come after sweet snacks. In fact, I also offer a cheese and meat plate, as well.
Tea in Social Etiquette
Once tea-drinking naturally fit into Russian table traditions; it brought innovations such as fine bone china, teapots, and accompaniments. Now we cannot imagine Russian hospitality and lifestyle without tea. Tea is not only a drink but is a way of communication.
We can drink tea for any reason or without reason at all – after a drive, in winter, in the evening, after a hot day, after a bath, talking with friends, at a meeting, just relaxing, after sleeping, hosting guests, housewarmings, and so much more.
It could be considered as rude as neglecting guests or even your customs. In Moscow, where the tea traditions are powerful, the hospitality rules offer tea to an unfamiliar person. There is a Russian expression ‘they didn't even give me tea’ applies if someone has not been a good host.
Tea in Business Etiquette
Once a client or visitor appears in an office in a business environment; the question is quickly asked, ‘would you like some tea or coffee?’ Even during serious negotiations, professionals will be offered sweets to accompany their tea. It is normal to offer tea and coffee with chocolate sweets and biscuits. In contrast, during my experience with international ex-pats, drinking tea over the business was not popular.
Elena Gorelik is based in Moscow, Russia and the founder of Serviruem, helping women feel confident through hospitality education. Elena is a table setting stylist and director for hospitality events. From the 1990s to 2000s, Elena has carved out an illustrious career working for executive management of airline company’s and was in charge of protocol procedures for hospitality services. The highlight of her career was working for the famous Marriott Moscow Royal Aurora Hotel (5*) and acting as Head at Food and Beverage Service. Please see Elena Gorelik @serviruem
Italian food is so famous, that people worldwide know and enjoy pizza and pasta, thanks to centuries of travelling along the Silk Road and exploration worldwide. The Renaissance period was credited with changing the way Italians ate and cooked. Little is known about the evolution of dining matters in Italy, and this will amaze you.
It was noted during this period; initially, forks (introduced by Caterina de' Medici) were seen as excessive and a sign of femininity. It was not used until the 17th century where upper classes would afford these basic items and bring them to the dining table and share amongst family, friends and acquaintances.
A toast is given, the guest (you) should speak after the host’s presentation. Just wait for cues and go along with events and have a small speech that is positive and appreciative of your host’s welcome.
Italian love to feed their guests. The trick is to take small servings, allowing your host to give you a second portion and not leave food on your plate. Making everyone happy. If you are not a wine drinker or tolerate small amounts, it is correct for you to leave wine in your cup. This will prevent your host from filling your glass up, and you are politely finishing every last drop.
When eating, use the continental way of navigating your place setting. This requires using your napkin, resting and finishing positions in this style during and after your meal. Always keep your hands in sight and not on your lap during the meal, and never rest your elbows on the table.
Elda Lanza, doyenne of Italian etiquette, wrote a book entitled Il Tovagliolo va a sinistra, directs the diner to put the napkin left side of the cutlery and never under the cutlery. On a formal occasion, the position of the napkin above the plate is allowed if there is a small gift or a single bouquet or to enhance a decoration. The napkin is folded in half and then half again, creating a booklet.
Petra Carsetti was born into a gastronomic minded family… true lovers of excellent foods and wines. From an early age she showed a great passion for the table, which she later developed by working in important, well-known Italian restaurants. Since 2005, she has written many books on food and wine, along with guides to Italian restaurants, specializing also in galateo and etiquette at the Accademia Italiana Galateo and ANCEP (the Association of Ceremonialists for Public Institute). She teaches etiquette in schools to adults and children, is a consultant for various political and economic authorities, and she has a weekly column in a historic newspaper. She also writes for various other newspapers, and in September she will come out with her new book, “GalaTime: it is always time for good manners”!
Please see her featured in Etiquipedia: https://etiquipedia.blogspot.com/2021/08/an-interview-with-petra-carsetti.html