Table Manners RSS

Thanksgiving Turkey Snob Dilemma

Dear Helena, My mother-in-law is cooking Thanksgiving, and I think she’s probably going to get a grocery-store turkey injected with weird saline and chemicals. How can I steer her towards

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Trick-or-Treating in the Rich Neighborhood

Dear Helena, I recently read an article in my local paper about the “best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating” and was a little annoyed by the premise, which seemed to be that

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How to Fix a Flubbed Tip

Dear Helena, A few months ago, I was invited to a high-end New York restaurant to review it. Usually when reviewing restaurants, I pay my own expenses, but in this

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The Etiquette of Mushroom Foraging

Dear Helena, My friend forages for mushrooms, and knows I’m interested in doing so myself. But every time I ask him if I can go, he just gets this smug

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Is Registering for a $2,400 Espresso Maker Rude?

Dear Helena, My fiancé and I are in our late 30s and we already have a fully equipped kitchen, so I won’t be asking for pots and pans on our

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Who Should Pay for the Bachelorette Party?

Dear Helena, A good friend of mine is getting married in a few weeks, and her sister and another bridesmaid are planning the bachelorette party. We recently became aware of

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The Etiquette of Communal Tables

Dear Helena, A restaurant trend I’m noticing lately is to be seated at community-style shared tables if your party doesn’t fill the whole table. I’m never really sure what’s appropriate

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What to Do When a Friend’s Home-Brew Sucks

Dear Helena, I have a friend who started brewing beer about a year ago. He always brings some when he comes over and asks me to tell him what I

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Eating the Placenta: It Tastes Like Squab!

Dear Helena, Some friends of mine had a home birth and are very gung-ho about the fact that they ate their placenta. They froze it, where it hung out next

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Is It Rude to Specify End Times for Parties?

Dear Helena, I am planning a small drinks party and am concerned that some of my guests will not leave until after midnight. Is it rude or at least nonfestive

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Experimental Seating at Dinner Parties

Dear Helena, I want to have a little dinner party at my house but (a) am lacking six matching chairs, (b) have a very small dining room table, (c) don’t

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On the First Match.com Date, Who Pays?

Dear Helena, I go on a lot of first dates on Match.com, and it’s getting really expensive. If I see a woman more than once, she usually offers to pay

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The, Um, Breast Milk in the Fridge

Dear Helena, I pump milk at work for my baby and store it in the office fridge. I also leave parts of my pump drying in the drainage rack. No

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Should I Take My Hat Off at a Restaurant?

Dear Helena, I was brought up to remove my hat whenever I was indoors. Nowadays, I often see young people eating out at restaurants wearing all manner of hats. Have

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How to Deal with Backseat Grillers

Dear Helena, I like to grill, but there is one dude who always tries to take over when I throw a barbecue. He’s just trying to help, but it’s annoying.

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No Special Treatment for Vegetarians at Barbecues

Dear Helena, I’m throwing a barbecue and want to know how much I’m supposed to bend over backwards to accommodate vegetarians. Thanks. —The Meathead Dear Meathead, Don’t stress out about

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How Much Should Houseguests Treat?

Dear Helena, When I’m a houseguest for a short period of time (two or three days), I buy at least one dinner and usually one breakfast as well—it seems like

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When Restaurants Refuse Substitutions

Dear Helena, I went to this new gourmet burger place where they have a bunch of different burgers on their menu. The one I asked for came with goat cheese

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How to Handle Blood Sugar Crashes

Dear Helena, My boyfriend is the type of person who turns into a complete lunatic if his blood sugar drops too low. If we’re at the restaurant, he’s been known

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My Server Is Stoned!

There is no reader question this week. Instead, Helena has a topic she’d like to address. Recently, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant reviewer Michael Bauer posted a reader’s question, “What do

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Reform School for Tightwad Tippers

Dear Helena, I tip about 20 percent on meals, including alcohol and taxes. One of my closest friends (and frequent restaurant companion) typically tips about half the amount I do,

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