I did not know this.
The fuck is wrong with rich people ‘hey do you want a second plate’ no i want to make up a secret passive aggressive fork language so we can titter mockingly at that rube from the country who says he enjoyed the meal with his fucking mouth
It’s mainly a sign for the waiter to see from several tables away if a customer is done/needs the bill or wants to complain or if they are ready for the next course. You manning five tables? You don’t have time to ask every single person. You need a quick visual cue to decide what’s more urgent, who can wait, who can’t.
This isn’t rich people 101 if you eat at a cafe with a knife and fork someone should have told you this as a kid. Same with menus. Close the menu if you are ready to order so a waiter can see you are good to go. They aren’t mind readers. And they may be mega busy so verbally asking may not be an option.
Also this is taught to deaf/socially sensitive kids in some schools in Australia to help people who can’t vocalise well in a crowded environment.
Mum always taught me the “finished” and “pause” ones and now I do them automatically. I’ve noticed some places actually pay attention to it and I can sit there reading a newspaper or whatever with a half finished meal while I digest and nobody comes to take my food away.