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Fish knives and coasters

(117 Posts)
seoladair Mon 23-Apr-12 13:11:59

Back from ILs again. The fish knives made another appearance (fish pie this time rather than fish-cakes; fish knives still unnecessary IMO!)
Anyway. More etiquette conundrums!
Apparently we're not allowed to refer to the mats we put our wine glasses on as "coasters", and the wine bottle coaster can only be described as a "coaster" not as a "wine bottle coaster". Etiquette experts, is this correct? And if so, why should I care?!!

OP’s posts: |
HeartsJandJ Mon 23-Apr-12 13:15:18

What are the sanctions if you do refer to coasters incorrectly? <If it's having your wine taken away then make sure you follow the rules!>

But your ILs sound weird and snobby but quite, erm, common. Did they read a book on manners in the 70s or something?

5Foot5 Mon 23-Apr-12 13:15:29

I always call them coasters. What do the ILS think they should be called instead? And I agree that fish knives are an unnecessary pretention

seoladair Mon 23-Apr-12 13:18:16

The sanction is disapproval from MIL!
I think they're supposed to be called drinks mats hmm
After I visit ILs, I always let off steam by posting on mumsnet!

OP’s posts: |
Butwhatdoyoudoallday Mon 23-Apr-12 13:18:48

Coasters are as naff as fish knives. Do you ILs talk about the settee in the living room? They sound like they would.

seoladair Mon 23-Apr-12 13:20:42

butwhat - do you mean coasters are naff if they are drinks mats of sine bottle coasters?
They say sofa. They'd be covered in shame if they said settee. They're proud of knowing the correct terminology!

OP’s posts: |
StrandedBear Mon 23-Apr-12 13:21:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seoladair Mon 23-Apr-12 13:21:07

wine bottle. not sine bottle. or even sin bottle

OP’s posts: |
notaniphoneownerjustabadtypist Mon 23-Apr-12 13:23:01

Re fish knives - must be an older generation thing. when I was young my mum always brought out the fish knives when we had fish. She was very proud of them. They lived in a special case with satin lining. Not sure why separate knives were necessary though. She doesn't use them now.

I think there is a John Betjeman (sp?) poem about fish knives <off to google>>

valiumredhead Mon 23-Apr-12 13:23:54

I use coasters - I don't want rings on my new furniture - I need it to look good for as long as possible!

seoladair Mon 23-Apr-12 13:26:39

No, coasters are used to prevent rings on the table. We're just not allowed to call them coasters as that apparently only refers to the wine bottle holder!

OP’s posts: |
Butwhatdoyoudoallday Mon 23-Apr-12 13:27:05

Drinks mat coasters are naff. The whole "let me get you a coaster" thing is very Hyacinth Bucket. Wine glasses should go on the table or in the hand.

I tend not to put down my wine glass when at the ILs. It's my security blanket smile

notaniphoneownerjustabadtypist Mon 23-Apr-12 13:27:31

Here's the fish knives poem. I guess this was written in the 1950s? Nothing about coasters though:

How To Get On In Society by John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me.

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

notaniphoneownerjustabadtypist Mon 23-Apr-12 13:27:31

Here's the fish knives poem. I guess this was written in the 1950s? Nothing about coasters though:

How To Get On In Society by John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me.

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

loobeylou2012 Mon 23-Apr-12 13:29:10

The fish knives are a pointless pretention! They are made to be able to hook bones out of the fish and to take the skin off, unless they make a bloody awful fish pie, there's no way in hell they should need them... Not sure about wine bottle coaster/ normal coaster think they're disgusting whatever used for and shouldn't exist

Butwhatdoyoudoallday Mon 23-Apr-12 13:29:45

Super poem, notaniphone - love it!

OP please put it on your fridge for when your ILs next come round grin

notaniphoneownerjustabadtypist Mon 23-Apr-12 13:34:23

loobeyloo aha, i thought it was to do with the bones. But for boneless fish pie?? hmm
Butwhatdoyoudoallday grin

notaniphoneownerjustabadtypist Mon 23-Apr-12 13:36:11

www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=antique+fish+knives&hl=en&biw=1280&bih=857&gbv=2&tbm=isch&tbnid=NX20Hp7BQKxeDM:&imgrefurl=http://www.iauctionshop.co.uk/index.php%3Froute%3Dproduct/product%26product_id%3D13712&docid=N2qw7jxJtF8OkM&imgurl=http://www.iauctionshop.co.uk/image/cache/data/cutlery-long-set-fish-knives-and-forks-1-500x500.jpg&w=500&h=408&ei=ZUyVT-_nJYnZ8AOW_uzNDA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=202&vpy=325&dur=657&hovh=203&hovw=249&tx=151&ty=121&sig=104054788949564735291&page=1&tbnh=158&tbnw=194&start=0&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0,i:78
(Picture of fish knives like my mum's)

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Apr-12 13:38:15

Great poem. My DM who I believe Hyacinth Bucket was modelled upon insists on serving anything remotely fishy with fish knives (also kept in a special box with satin lining) because ... and I quote... 'so that the other knives don't smell of fish'. confused Grabbing the wrong end of the pretentious stick there mater!!!

nagynolonger Mon 23-Apr-12 13:42:05

I've never bothered with a wine bottle holder. Coasters are to stop ring marks on tables from glasses and mugs. They are not needed if you are using a saucer. I don't bother with saucers anymore because my MIL is dead. I have 3 sets of fish knives. My own (wedding present), DMs and DMILs. I can't remember when they were last used.

nagynolonger Mon 23-Apr-12 13:44:56

Just read that back sorry too many 'I'.

loobeylou2012 Mon 23-Apr-12 13:45:35

Exactly notaniphone they are pointless. Think is poss because a 'propper' dinner service would normally be made of silver or some such, this would include fish knives for fish which needed them, when used for any dish containing fish it's just to show that you can afford to have fish knives aswell as normal ones. Bet they have cake forks and sugar tongs too wink

Bunbaker Mon 23-Apr-12 13:46:31

"Drinks mat coasters are naff."

They are very necessary. I have a pine coffee table and when friends come round for coffee they naturally want to put their coffee mug down. Do I put a pile of newspapers on the table or tell them they have to hold their mugs all the time?

We had fish knives when I was growing up. I couldn't see the point of them either.

Apparently the fish knife thing was developed because knives were made from steel and the steel was said to react with acids in the fish sauces and taint the flavour of the food, so fish knives made from silver were developed. Another theory is that fish turned the steel black (in the days before stainless steel)

diddl Mon 23-Apr-12 13:49:11

Well I can´t help thinking if you´ve got a set of fish knives why not use them?

My Dad has a lovely set just sat in the cupboard in their box-seems a waste.

If they were mine I´d rather use them for the "wrong" type of fish dish than not at all tbh.

Sorry if that makes me pretentious.

Treblesallround Mon 23-Apr-12 13:50:42

One should own an inherited set of fish knives, but one should never use them That is the correct way to be posh.

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