[Sca-cooks] food manners, from the blog Tigers & Strawberries.
Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise
jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Wed Nov 1 13:25:52 PST 2006
I loved this so much I need to share it with you all. I didn't write it;
the author of the Blog Tigers & Strawberries did.
So, I thought about it and decided that I should write a little primer
on manners relating to food, in order to help those confused by the
issue get on a little better with the rest of the world. Not that I
think that my readers are in any way unmannerly, because they are all so
super and wonderful. No, I don.t expect that anyone who comes here
regularly will have need of this primer, however, they may know someone
who needs enlightened. In such a case, you can email the url to this
post to them with no explanation, or print out the primer and leave it
on their desk, in their lunchbox or tape it to their foreheads. Whatever
This is not a comprehensive list, because I am no Judith Martin, and
thus am not really an authority. But this list is just a handful of
things that I think are pretty important that might help dinner guests,
hosts, servers, customers and family members get along at the table just
a little bit better.
Rule Number One of Barbara.s Table Manners is simple.within reason, eat
what you are offered, and do so graciously, even if it tastes like ass.
This is the big rule that was drummed into my head from early childhood
on: if you are offered food in someone else.s home, it is rude to turn
it down. It is also rude to explain how you don.t eat whatever it is
that is being served to you, unless you have a damned good reason to do
so, (like .God will hate me if I eat pork.) and even then, you should
try to avoid saying no to your host. If it is something you don.t
normally care for, take as small a portion as possible, and eat it, and
smile, even if it tastes bad.some might say, especially if it tastes
And after you have eaten it, you praise the cook and thank them
Because when someone cooks something for you, it is an expression of
love and fellowship, and such an expression should never be spurned,
because that is akin to spitting in someone.s face. Bringing people
together at the table to share food is a sacred act, and is meant to
create bonds of friendship and community among human beings. To refuse
food is tantamount to refusing the friendship of the host and the cook,
and in some countries and cultures, this is a dire offense. To accept an
invitation to dine, and then refuse to eat what is presented to you as a
guest by the host is an even worse offense.
My Grandma always told me that when you serve food to a guest, it is
always the best that you can give.and that meant that when you went to
someone else.s table, what they served was the best that -they- could
offer. Not every person has the means to present a five course meal, but
even if they are poor, whatever they put before a guest is the best that
their hearth and hands can offer, and it should never be looked down
upon, ridiculed or refused. It should be eaten graciously, and many
thanks should be given for it.
To be a good guest, one should therefore be humble.
Barbara.s Second Rule is a corollary to the first rule: in order to be a
good host, make every effort to know what your guests do and do not like
and can and cannot eat; in order to be a good guest, make your dietary
needs known to your host ahead of time politely and remember that there
is a difference between what you cannot eat and what you will not eat. A
good guest should understand that his host is under no obligation to
please his palate so long as she does not serve food which will cause
her guests bodily harm or death. A good host should do his utmost to
provide for the comfort of his guests, while a good guest will do her
utmost to not be an undo burden to the host.
For both hosts and guests, this means that discreet inquiries, done
privately, on the subject of dietary needs are a must for successful
Guests should also strive not to be an undue burden on the host by not
making unreasonable requests. If one is a Muslim on the Atkins diet, and
is genuinely allergic to a number of foods such as milk and almonds, one
should then also not give the host a list of foods that one simply does
not like. Stick with what is a genuine problem, and leave the rest be.
For hosts, I say this: if you have vegetarians dining with you, please
do not cook vegetables with meat and call them vegetables. It is not
cute, clever or compassionate to do so. It is rude. Do not secretly put
pork in the green beans and then .forget. to tell your Muslim guest. And
for goodness sake, treat food allergies as serious health problems
because they can be deadly. You don.t want to kill anyone do you? I
didn.t think so. (Do you really want to have someone come to your door
in the middle of a dinner party, and when you open it, you find it is
the Grim Reaper? If you think it would be fun, please view Monty
Python.s The Meaning of Life and see that while it can be funny, it
really puts a damper on the evening.s entertainment.)
Barbara.s Third Rule is a corollary of the First and Second Rules:
please do not make ugly faces, icky noises or derisive comments about
other people.s food. Whether it is served to you, or is on someone
else.s plate, if you don.t care for it, Keep It To Yourself! No one
wants to hear you make gagging sounds if they are eating meat and you
are a vegetarian, nor do vegarians want to hear you go on about how
terrible tofu is. If you don.t like it and you aren.t eating it, leave
the person or persons who are eating it alone to eat it in peace for
goodness sake. Else you risk never being asked out to eat again.
Rule Number Four is not related necessarily to the other three rules,
but it is very important nonetheless. When one is out at a restaurant,
please treat your servers as human beings, because that is bloody well
what they are. They are not there to be your personal emotional punching
bags. They work hard doing a physically, emotionally and mentally
demanding job in order to make a living wage, so please don.t make their
life worse by acting like an arrogant ass with a sense of entitlement.
And while you are at it, here is a thought: learn the the difference
between bad service (an inattentive, surly server who never brings water
or remembers what you asked for), a very busy night when the restaurant
is filled with loud tables and the waiters are harried, (the service is
slow, but the waiter is apologetic, never forgets your requests, and is
running around like a chicken with his head cut off, but still getting
everything done), and cases where the server is not at fault, but the
kitchen is (a steak is medium rare instead of medium well, but the
server takes it right back to fix it with an apology and a smile.) Once
you have figured out what good service and bad service are, tip
accordingly, and never, ever stiff a server unless they are truly out of
line with your party.
And never ever say some stupid crap like, .The restaurant should pay the
servers a living wage so that I don.t have to tip,. and then use that as
an excuse not to leave a tip, because that is a crass bullshit excuse to
just be a tightwad. If you go out with me and say such a thing, guess
what? I won.t go out with you again. End of story.
There are lots of other little rules that could be added here.and I
welcome folks to leave their own musings on manners here in the comments
section. Afterwards, perhaps we will collate them into a grand listing
of table manners for the twenty-first century. We can keep adding to the
big listing as situations arise and warrent inclusion.
Oh, and one more thing.remember this: manners are not just for guests,
hosts, company and restaurants. They apply to everyday home meals, too.
In fact, I would say it is just as important to treat your family and
intimate friends with great courtesy and manners as it is to treat
strangers and guests, because manners make life go more smoothly.
Families have enough stress heaped upon them from living in close
quarters day and in and day out; it never hurts, and in fact helps to
alleviate stress if we all just treat each other with a bit of mannerly
kindness on a daily basis.
Manners matter, every day, and in every way.
-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
"History doesn't always repeat itself. Sometimes it screams
'Why don't you ever listen to me?' and lets fly with a club."
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