The 10 Don'ts Of Dining

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It has to be your biggest nightmare. You're settling down to a romantic meal for two, in an exclusive, high-class restaurant, when along he comes (it's always a he). Etiquette? - Never heard of it. So for his benefit, and any other peasants out there, here's 10 things you shouldn't be doing when you're eating out.

1. Do NOT smoke while dining Yes it's a free country but chain smoking from the beginning to the end of a meal -- ensuring a nice thick film of smoke drifts over your fellow diners - just shows your lack of class. Do it with a cigar and you're even more of a tosser.

2. The napkin stays on your knees Unless you are a fat mafia don, you've got no business shoving your napkin under your chin. It stays on your knees and from time to time you can delicately blot your lips. Blow your nose in it and you deserve a painful death.

3. Embarrassing moments are embarrassing Only babies and the Japanese can get away with smiling after they've burped. If your rich repaste is prompting an unavoidable internal response, try and excuse yourself from the table. Failing that, look suitably mortified.

4. Fingers are not utensils Fingers are for use in extremis and in Macdonalds. Otherwise, use the cutlery that the restaurant was thoughtful enough to provide. You can relax the rules for spare ribs or crab but licking each finger afterwards is not the way to clean yourself up.

5. Keep your mouth shut Why let food get in the way of the art of conversation when you can share the contents of your mouth with your partner and innocent onlookers? Save your witty repartee and pearls of wisdom until you've swallowed your food.

6. Leave the slang at home You might think it's funny ordering a 'Ring Stinger' (curry - any type) or a 'Pebble Dasher' (anything accompanied by lentils or beans) but nobody else does. And unless you speak the language, remember that ordering in a foreign accent never was and never will be funny.

7. Don't pick your teeth So, the peppered steak was a little chewy? Remember that a fork really can get to those hard to reach places. Failing that, there are numerous sharp objects on the table and you do have a wallet full of credit cards to help lever that little devil out of your gums. Not.

8. The waiter is not a slave Never, never snap your fingers and never, never call the waiter, 'Garcon'. You are paying to have your food cooked by somebody else, not paying to terrorize and humiliate the person who brings it to you.

9. Work on a 'need-to-know' basis Ablutions are a natural function of the human body and when you've got to go, you've got to go. But does the whole table really need to know? "Right, I'm off to make some room for me afters. Might be some time." Nice.

10. Set your volume control Only Americans are biologically incapable of lowering their voices. The rest of us are perfectly well equipped to restrict the conversation to the immediate vicinity. So do it!

-- DEE DEE JOHNSON

REPLY FROM "AF"
In response to Dee Dee Johnson's Rant 'The 10 Don'ts of Dining', I would like to add an eleventh.

11. Keep your racist beliefs to yourself. Americans are not 'biologically incapable of lowering their voices'. I'm not sure how she has formed this belief -- I don't really care about the origin of racist stereotypes. I've lived in America for 20 years and know for a fact that on the whole Americans are no louder than any other nationality. The thing I find most offensive about this comment is the assumption that because the racist slur was made about a country of mostly white people it's ok. Had the racist comment been about Blacks or Asians, would you have found that an acceptable thing to post on your website?

REPLY FROM "ES"
12: AF, don't you think it's possible that D. Johnson was just being humorous, and you are over-reacting a little by accusing her of racist slurs? I suppose your outraged response just goes to show that regardless of race or nationality, anyone can be a pompous moron. Incidentally, an (American) comedian once said "America is like a contestant in beauty pageant. It's gorgeous until it opens it's mouth".

REPLY FROM "DJ":
I am American and found both DD's article and the response to AF very amusing. However I think you'll find my reasons for this go beyond the Americans-are-always-loud sentiment so un-elegantly expressed in DD's article. I've lived in this country for 5 years and have been subject to all kinds of off-handed comments and slurs, and believe me, no one likes an American joke better than I do, but why not publish something actually funny on your website about Americans and our tendencies rather than a comment so banal and witless as "Only Americans are biologically incapable of lowering their voices", which adds absolutely nothing to DD's "rant" rather than offend a few of your less tolerant readers. I think it's funny that DD finds this statement humourous. I'd think being British, you'd have a bit more comedy amongst you.

REPLY FROM "DL":
In response to the article by Dee Dee Johnson on the 10 Don'ts of Dining and the ensuing debate about Americans: I've been in the restaurant business for some twenty years now, and have found Americans to be either 1) The most gracious, polite, well mannered and most pleasant of all customers, or 2) The rudest, grossest, self-regarding, greedy and most unpleasant of all customers - who are loud, demanding and deeply insensitive to their fellow diners and waiting staff, who they habitually demean. I don't know if it's a geographical trait -- whether New Yorkers, for instance, form the second group, or whether it's a socio-economic thing. By the same token, I bet continental Europeans might say the same of the English -- on the one hand you have the gross football-shirt wearing loud-mouthed drunken yob, on the other, the polite, well-mannered, pleasant cultural tourist who is extremely embarrassed by the former. These are of course stereotypes, but ones that most would recognise, especially if they work in the hospitality business.

REPLY FROM "JV"
I am intrigued to know who this DD is and what exactly gives this writer the authority and experience to set down the rules of public eating. The eating habits and manners of our nation is varied and this is a result of different upbringing and cultures. There are some habits which are fairly antisocial in most places let alone at dining venues, but do we really need DD to tell us these things just in case we didn't realise. That is not to say I don't agree, smoking (esp. cigars) while at a restaurant is a particularly selfish act. but this will soon be against the law so that one can be scrapped. I disagree with the rules with regard what you are allowed to discuss at a restaurant and at what volume. when you decide to go out to eat you are choosing to eat in a public place with other people, that is one of the main factors with public eating. If you want somewhere quiet to eat..eat at home. Eating with fingers may be considered impolite by some people but it depends what you are eating but remember this practise is quite acceptable in other cultures. In conclusion, I can see the article was written to have a rant in response to some bad dining experiences but I find it hard to swallow this piece of literature in the comical flavour it was intended when it is in the shape of a list of things I am not allowed to do when I am in the position to eat out. keep your rules for yourself DD.

More Gastrotourist Destinations Displaying page of : The 10 Don'ts Of Dining - The Buffet Brigade | A Succulent Read | The Unwelcome Veggie | Gastro Porn | Wine By The Numbers | The Italian Job | A Family Affair? | Tax And Slim | Smoke Gets In My Eyes | Les Rosbifs | The Melting Pot | Grape Expectations | A Critic At Large | Hey Fatty Bum Bum

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