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It’s Emily Gilmore’s World, We’re All Just Living In It

Dining etiquette and more from the Gilmore matriarch

Emily Gilmore means business. Over the course of the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls — and the countless Friday night dinners, DAR luncheons, fancy events, and elaborate breakfasts — her penchant for etiquette came through loud and clear. Here, a detailed list of the rules she lives by in and outside of the dining room.

Don’t drink your coffee in the car.
Season 1, Episode 1; Season 3, Episode 8

EMILY: Where are you going with that?
LORELAI: To the car.
EMILY: You can’t have that in the car.
LORELAI: I know.
EMILY: Well, then, what are you doing with it?
LORELAI: Walking it.
EMILY: Lorelai.
LORELAI: Mom, I know I can’t have it in the car. It will not be in the car.

Never bring leftovers to a dinner.
Season 1, Episode 3

EMILY, when Lorelei brings leftover blueberry shortcakes to dinner: You brought us used dessert?

If you have to eat frozen pizza for Friday night dinner, add Parmesan cheese.
Season 1, Episode 8

RORY: You know what? It's really good if you add some extra Parmesan to it. [Rory grates Parmesan cheese on Emily's pizza] This is Mom's special trick. Frozen pizza is a staple at our house. Mom's become a major doctoring genius. She'll put anything on it. One time Sookie came and brought us some foie gras, and Mom stuck it on a pizza.
EMILY: How was it?
RORY: Pretty good once we took the foie gras off. Okay, that's good. Try it. Please. If you wanna get really crazy, you can pick it up.
EMILY: Well, all right. Here goes nothing. [takes a bite] Mmm! That's wonderful!
RORY: See?
EMILY: Rory, pass me that cheese. [Emily walks over to Richard and starts grating cheese on his pizza] Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Don’t adjust your clothing at the dinner table.
Season 1, Episode 10

EMILY: Richard don’t loosen your tie at the table.

No grilling at the dinner table.
Season 2, Episode 1

EMILY, talking about Dean: Richard, please, don’t grill the boy.

Be punctual.

Season 2, Episode 3

EMILY, to Lorelei at Lorelei’s bachelorette party: And in the future, when you plan one of these things, and you tell a person to show up at eight o'clock, it is considered good manners for you to also show up at eight o'clock.

When in doubt, order a Manhattan.
Season 2, Episode 3

EMILY, telling Miss Patty what she ordered while waiting for the bachelorette party to show up: Manhattan. Good too. Not too sweet. I ordered it from that nice fellow dressed as Joan Crawford.

Any proper function must have: real chairs, tapers that aren't too tall or too short, and definitely no baby’s breath or cotton tablecloths.
Season 2, Episode 6

EMILY: I wanted my granddaughter to be presented to society in a beautiful elegant ballroom, not a Shakey's.

Just do not eat outside.
Season 2, Episode 7

LORELAI: Mom, the whole point of barbecuing is to eat outside.
EMILY: “Animals eat outside. Human beings eat inside with napkins and utensils. If you want to eat outside, go hunt down a gazelle. Make your decision, I'll be inside.”

If you don’t want to know what you’re eating, don’t ask.
Season 2, Episode 1; Season 2, Episode 12

LORELAI: No, I was just gonna say, what's the secret?
EMILY: Well, let's just say it's not beef.
LORELAI: Oh, okay, I'm done.

Never sit at the bar.
Season 2, Episode 16

EMILY: Doesn’t seem right to eat dinner when your feet aren’t touching the floor.

And don’t go to chop houses, either.
Season 2, Episode 16

EMILY: I don’t know why I let you take me to this chop house in the first place. I don’t go to chop houses. What were you thinking?

This is how you taste your food:
Season 2, Episode 17

EMILY: Well, Lorelai, when you’re tasting anything, the first taste acclimates the palate, the second establishes the foundation, and the third is to make your decision.
EMILY: Everything has to be at your pace.

Don’t start dinner until everyone is present.
Season 2, Episode 18

EMILY: We’re waiting for your father.
LORELAI: It’s gonna get cold.
EMILY: We are waiting for your father.
LORELAI: We’ve been waiting forever.
EMILY: We have not been waiting forever.
LORELAI: Forever. Godot was just here. He said ‘I ain’t waiting for Richard,’ grabbed a roll, and left. It’s been forever.
EMILY: When we gather as a family, we eat as a family. We don’t eat in shifts – you know that and Richard certainly knows that.
EMILY: We are waiting for you, Richard. In thirty–five years, I have never ever started a dinner without you unless you were out of town or seriously ill. Elsa, take everything away and keep it warm! Now please go upstairs and get ready so we can all enjoy a nice family dinner together.

Always use doilies.
Season 2, Episode 21; Season 4, Episode 9

At Emily and Richard’s house, Rory stops by to invite Emily and Richard to Lorelai’s graduation. She meets with Emily, who leads her the dining room table set for afternoon tea. There’s a tower of finger sandwiches, a platter of scones, a dish of strawberries, and a tower of small pastries. Three place settings with silverware, teacups, and saucers are made. Richard joins them.

RORY: You didn't have to do this.
EMILY: But it's tea time and I wanted to. . .oh no! Beatrice, I told you to doily line the plates!
RORY: You don't have to doily line the plates.

EMILY: It's the cookies my granddaughter brought. I told you to place them on a doily, not just dump them on a plate.

Dinner starts at 7 p.m. Not later, not earlier.
Season 3, Episode 2

EMILY: I told you we eat dinner at 7, and right now, it’s 6:30. Therefore, one could conclude that maybe it’s just a tad early for dinner.

No walnuts in salads.
Season 3, Episode 8

EMILY: I’m not quite sure what other way there is to say ‘no walnuts in the salad’ except to say ‘no walnuts in the salad.’

Every dinner must be planned properly.
Season 3, Episode 16

EMILY: Lorelai, you know very well our dinners do not work like that. There is careful planning and shopping and preparation that goes into every meal no matter how boring and simple it may seem to you.

Cheeseburgers count.
Episode 4, Episode 8

EMILY: With the right bread and meat, a cheeseburger can make a fine meal.

Paella is over.
Season 4, Episode 10

EMILY: The food was terrible. The fact that people still insist on serving paella is simply beyond me. However, the room looked lovely.

Hotels must have a proper tea service.
Season 4, Episode 19

LORELEI: So, I spent all morning on the phone calling every hotel in the area with a decent high tea, and there [Emily] was. Grafton Hotel, room 421. Check-out date indefinite.

After dinner, drink brandy.
Season 4, Episode 18

LORELAI: We can bring the coffee?
EMILY: I was going to pour brandy.
LORELAI: Even better.

Don’t eat stew.
Season 5, Episode 11

Emily and Richard feeding the dog:

EMILY: What are you feeding it?
RICHARD: I’ve got some leftover stew. I’m going to pick chunks of meat out of it.
EMILY: Stew? Richard, tell me that that man of yours isn’t feeding you stew?
RICHARD: Well, he probably offered. He said it was a recipe passed down by some dead relative
.EMILY: Stew? That may be what killed his relative.
RICHARD [laughs]: I didn’t think of it.
EMILY: Promise me you’ll make him prepare proper food for you. Please. That’s what he’s paid for.
RICHARD: I promise, Emily.

Eat seasonally.
Season 5, Episode 16; Season 7, Episode 5

EMILY: And how’s the shortcake?
RORY: It’s fine, thanks.
EMILY: I know this seems a bit basic, but Eliza found the first decent strawberries of the year. I’m so mad at California.

EMILY: Pears this time of year can dress up any salad.

Keep your centerpieces fragrance-free.
Season 5, Episode 20

EMILY: Do you know what these are?
EMILY: Fragrant lilies. Would you like to eat dinner with fragrant lilies in the room?
EMILY: Well, then you’re insane! I don’t know how you think my guests are supposed to enjoy their dinner with this floral reek wafting up their noses! Move them to the living room and bring the peonies in here.

Do not eat in cars. Don’t order seafood at dives. And when in doubt, order wine.
Season 7, Episode 17.

EMILY: Where on earth are we?
LORELAI: Well, mom, since you wouldn't let us take you to a drive-through, we've come here to Winky's, a fine eatery just off I-85.
EMILY: Very down home.
EMILY: I smell cigarette smoke. This is one of those places that still allows cigarettes isn’t it?
LORELAI: Mom, if you'd prefer to wait in the car, we can bring food to you there.
EMILY: Well that would be foolish, the reason why I refused to go to the drive-through is because I won't allow eating in my car.
RORY: Hey, they have lobster.
LORELAI: Lobster for $12.95. How could you go wrong? I'll have the lobster.
RORY: See, you'll have lobster. I'll have shrimp. We'll make it a seafood night.
EMILY: Seafood in a place like this -- very risky.
LORELAI: And a hot dog. A hot dog for the table. You'll go in on that with us, won't you, mom?
EMILY: I’ll have a turkey sandwich on wheat and a glass of chardonnay. That's the clear one.

Eating a cheese plate is not a sufficient wedding celebration.
Season 7, Episode 9

EMILY: A cheese plate? Since when is a hunk of fermented milk a suitable means for celebrating a marriage?

Tea does not solve everything.
Season 7, Episode 13

LORELAI: Mum wouldn't you like to sit down, have a cup of tea?
EMILY: I don’t want a cup of tea. What I want is the most perfunctory level of competence from the people with whom I interact. That apparently is far too much to ask for.

Always believe what you read about health and science in the papers.
Season 7, Episode 13.

EMILY: 2 1/2 months ago, I read an article that said fish has been shown to prevent heart attacks and stroke and has innumerable other health benefits.
EMILY: It's the omega-3 fatty acids -- that and it's an incredibly lean source of protein. So I had the maid cut out the article so I could show it to Richard. He agreed to eat more fish, but he said not for dinner. My spineless kitchen staff caved.

Never stand up a dinner reservation (even if last time, the restaurant put you at a bad table).

EMILY, on the phone: Well then don't stick us in the back corner next time. Oh you did you absolutely did, Anthony. I was so close to the kitchen, I could have reached in and gotten my own plate without standing up, just stretched out my arm like Rubberman, and... [Chuckles] No, no, I'm just kidding. So, tell me, what's your special tonight? Sea scallops? Oh, you're torturing me, Anthony, torturing me. Well, give my love to your wife. Oh, I will. Oh, just one of those last-minute business trips. [Lorelai doesn’t look happy either] All right, then. Bye-bye.
LORELAI: Well somebody's very chipper on the phone. Somebody should consider a career as a weather girl.
EMILY: Oh please I've spent years cultivating my relationship with the maitre d' at Persephone's. I'm hardly about to let it go down the drain in one night. [Marking off a check list] "Call Persephone's" -- done.

EMILY, to Richard: Everything's in order, you'll be glad to know...I canceled our dinner reservations for the next couple of weeks.

Season 7, Episode 3

EMILY: Caroline, we do not grab or grope our dinner partners.

Don’t skimp on ice.
Season 7, Episode 3

EMILY: [Goes to take a sip and then looks disgusted.] Charlotte, you might have noticed that the ice cubes in my glass are already melted. There’s a whole ice bucket up there; there’s no need to be so stingy.

Wield your napkin properly.
Season 7, Episode 3

EMILY: Now immediately upon sitting, one should place one’s napkin in one’s lap, and mind you, no need for a flourish. The ability to use a napkin is nothing to brag about.

All utensils have a purpose.
Season 7, Episode 3

RORY: The table looks beautiful, grandma.
EMILY: Why thank you, Rory.
LORELEI: What’s with all the forks?
EMILY: Every piece of silverware has a purpose. You simply work from the outermost utensil in towards your plate.

EMILY: ...Ladle the broth away from our bodies.

And finally, here’s Trix on how to pace a dinner.
Season 3, Episode 10

TRIX: Now, please take this to your chef. These are the times I would like each course to appear at this table. I like a brisk pace, twelve minutes per course is best for my digestion. However, please tell your servers that they are not to clear until everyone has finished. Thank you.

— Nadia Chaudhury, Brenna Houck, Rachel Blumenthal, Dana Hatic, Missy Frederick, Chris Fuhrmeister, Serena Dai, Ashok Selvam, Ellen Fort, Kendra Vaculin, Sonia Chopra

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