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Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living |
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Q: What do you do if youíre at a dinner party and the only main dish features an ingredient that you really canít stomach? Like, you hate seafood and the host offers grilled salmon? Or you like to eat healthy and the food is swimming in butter? Is it rude to skip the entrťe and load up on salad instead?

A: Are you a strict vegetarian or vegan? Will your skin break out into hives, your belly rebel, your throat swell as the result of ingesting said entrťe? Do you follow the teachings of some little-known fish-worshipping religious sect?

If the answer to all of the above is a firm No, then the reply to your last question, Iím afraid, would be a yes. (Actually, even if you actually are vegetarian, allergic, or bound by some religious conviction, you should have informed your host of your dietary restrictions upon saying yes to the invite, not simply assumed that they already knew about all your food quirks). Get over your preconceptions that some foods are just inherently gross; I promise it wonít kill you to humor your host and try a few bites. After all, s/heís gone through a considerable amount of trouble to put together a meal that s/he hopes youíll like. You may even discover that you really do like the way your host(ess) has prepared that salmon (eggplant/ cabbage/ veal/ insert food bias here) that youíve always hated in the past. True story: Iíd never have discovered my taste for grilled Chilean sea bass if it hadnít been for that time that I politely accepted a chunk at a cousinís barbecue, this despite the fact that Iíve detested every other type of fish thatís ever been forced upon me.

If after a few bites, however, you really and truly feel that one more mouthful is going to send you running to find a place to vomit, politely put your fork down, sigh appreciatively, and say something along the lines of, "God, this food has just been delicious but Iím so full I think Iím going to explode." Every dinner host(ess) likes hearing that their guests have left on a full stomach. And remember, you can always stop by your favorite local takeout on the way back home afterwards.

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check out these related articles: 
the good host(ess)'s guide to glassware 
the good host(ess)'s guide to tablesettings 
crash course for the wine novice 

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