DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a relative and her children came over to dinner, the children didn’t like one particular dish they were served. When they asked their mother if they could be excused without eating it, she instructed them to bring it to me and say, “This is not to my taste.”
It was clear that the mother felt she was teaching them polite company manners, but I was baffled. I would have been more comfortable if they had simply left the uneaten food without comment.
What is the correct thing for children (and adults) to do when they do not want to eat what they have been served?
GENTLE READER: What did the mother expect you to do? Take it back and apologize for the bad service?
Of course they should have been instructed – preferably before they went out to dinner – simply to leave the food uneaten and say nothing. Miss Manners gathers that the mother believes that the purpose of manners is to demonstrate consideration for oneself.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My fiancee and I are debating about proper eating manners such as:
1. Do I have to keep my mouth shut while chewing my food?
2. Can I keep both or one elbow on the table while I eat?
GENTLE READER: And here are two questions that Miss Manners asks you to consider:
1. Do you want to have a happy marriage?
2. Are you really interested in knowing how many mealtimes of watching you eat crudely (and remembering that you would not grant a simple request to improve) it will take to affect your fiancee’s romantic feelings?