Table Manners RSS

My Friends Are All Give and No Take

Dear Helena, We have some relatively new friends. So far, they have hosted more dinner/meal get-togethers than we have, and every time I invite them to our place for dinner

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Rules for Effective Food-Swapping

Dear Helena,I keep reading about food swaps being really trendy right now. What is the etiquette? For example, do you have to trade your stuff for items you might not

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Why Is the Sommelier Drinking My Wine?

Dear Helena, What is up with the sommelier taking the first taste of your wine? When I buy a nice bottle of vino, I will be the judge of whether

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Can I Use a Coupon on a Date?

Dear Helena, I am trying to be proactive about online dating, so I’m going on a lot of first dates courtesy of Match.com. I always treat on a first date,

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The Etiquette of Dumpster Diving

Dear Helena, The other day I was loading several bags of groceries into my car when I observed a man rooting through a dumpster near the back door of the

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Please Pass the Scavenged-Bone Soup

There’s no reader question this week. Instead, Helena wants to address a question raised on Chowhound. I’m all in favor of thrift in the kitchen—saving your old Parmesan rinds to

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School Lunch Mockery

Dear Helena, My kid is an amazing eater, and at home she eats more or less what we eat, from tempeh to turnips. I pack her these great nutritious lunches,

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How to Avoid the Lure of the Buffet

Dear Helena, I’ve been dating a very nice woman for about three months now, and one of the things she’s asked me about is going out to a buffet dinner

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Doghouse Dining Dilemma

Dear Helena, I offered to housesit my friend’s dog, little realizing that this task would come with five pages of elaborate instructions, including a special meal plan of foods I

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Top 4 Wine-Tasting Gaffes

Dear Helena, I am going to spend the day in Napa visiting some wineries with my boyfriend’s family. They are pretty heavily into wine whereas I frankly can’t tell the

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What’s a Little Water Waste Between Friends

Dear Helena, I love cooking dinner for my friends, normally pretty casual. Since I do the cooking, my roommate does the dishes—which is great. However, when she does them she

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Chefs Are Masochists, Culinary School Is a Scam

Dear Helena, My brother recently told the family he wants to go to culinary school. He is 42, and seems to think that it’s somehow going to lead to a

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Please Cease Mold Production

Dear Helena, Every week or two my roommate goes to the grocery store, buoyed by good intentions, and comes back with a bunch of kale, broccoli, and other “superfoods.” But

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Is the Thank-You Card Obsolete?

Dear Helena, After going to a dinner party I always send a thank-you note in the mail. I think it’s elegant and classic and simple, and of course people like

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Hello, I’m Your Annoying Server

Dear Helena, I find it distasteful when servers introduce themselves. I’m no snob—I’m happy to converse with folks from all walks of life, and I’m fully aware they’re a “server”

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When Loved Ones Don’t Eat Organic

Dear Helena, Recently I was a houseguest at the houses of two of my aunts, who were so nice as to pay for pretty much everything (I’m 17, they haven’t

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Am I a Better Hostess If I Don’t Serve Dessert?

Dear Helena, In the past, I’ve found there is no more surefire way to delight your dinner guests than to bring out a homemade pie. But these days I often

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The Curse of the Touchy-Feely Server

Dear Helena, The other night, the waiter put his hand on my shoulder when he was placing the check on the table. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

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Gluten-Free But Not Annoying

Dear Helena, I am gluten-intolerant. Every time I eat a bowl of pasta, my stomach swells up to twice its normal size, and I feel exhausted the next day. But

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Is It OK to Complain About Tiny Portions?

Dear Helena, Recently, I went to a restaurant and ordered the entrée of roasted lamb. When it came, it was just a few small pieces of meat with a blob

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Can I Take My Baby to a Restaurant?

Dear Helena, Our son is nearly one and we sometimes take him out to dinner, either sitting on my lap or in a highchair if they have one. He’s a

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