Q: Is it proper to eat the parsley served as a garnish at a restaurant? My friend says that it is totally proper and that it serves an additional benefit of preventing odors due to the ingestion of garlic, onions, etc. I always thought that parsley was merely for decoration. Please advise.
A: The world has come a long way since Edwardian children were told to "leave something on your plate for Miss Manners." So has Miss Manners, for that matter, who was not crazy about slopping up the leftovers of rich kids. Now we are down to discussing merely whether or not one should leave the decorations.
Generally, Miss Manners now believes that it is silly to abandon perfectly good food. Parsley, as your friend points out, is a useful food, as well as being mildly entertaining. There is no reason to feel constrained to leave it for manners; certainly not for Miss Manners. However, no matter how hot you are, you may not gnaw on the ice sculpture.
Q: In a set of identical salt and pepper shakers, should the salt be placed in the shaker with one or two holes? My friend's feeling is that the salt is used more, therefore it should go in the two-hole shaker; I feel that because it pours faster, the salt belongs in the shaker with one hole. We resolve to abide by your decision.
A: If Miss Manners were to tell you, in a blustery way, to use salt cellars and pepper grinders, would you consider it a cop-out, as it were? Yes, of course you would. The truth is that Miss Manners didn't know that salt pours faster than pepper, and is now sitting here with little black and white specks all over her lap. Just a minute. (Brush, brush, brush.)
All right now, the decision is that your friend's reasoning is incorrect, but her conclusion is correct. (Miss Manners used to get her arithmetic papers back with that remark.) Salt goes in the two-hole shaker, not because it is used more often, but because more of it is used. Put another way; over-peppered food tastes worse than over-salted food.