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20-40-60 Etiquette: Where do you put soup spoon after use?

[File art: Pexels]
[File art: Pexels]

QUESTION: Is it impolite to leave your spoon in a bowl or cup after you are finished eating?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: When you are finished, you are supposed to put the spoon on the side on the bowl or cup, usually on the plate underneath, to show the waitstaff you’re finished.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I would place it on the plate below or to the side of the bowl on the table after you have finished. If you don’t, you run the risk of it flipping out of the bowl and flinging the food or of it falling out. Plus, it lets your servers (if you have them) know that you are finished.

HELEN’S ANSWER: After you are through with your soup, put the spoon on the plate underneath the bowl. If the spoon is upright in the cup or bowl, it may get knocked off when it is being removed from the table.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, assistant dean, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication: Wow! I've never heard this one before. Etiquette experts vary. Emily Post recommends this: "If the bowl is shallow, leave it in the bowl; if the bowl is deep or the soup is in a cup, leave the spoon on the underplot or saucer."

Post also has another reminder about the etiquette of eating soup: Don't be messy. That is the most important rule, in my opinion. Oh yes, and to be mindful of your eating companions at all times. So, no slurping at my table, please.

Slurping, however, can vary by ethnicities and cultures. In Japan, experts say it's polite to loudly slurp noodles.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email