Q.Often at a good restaurant,I will encounter a dish so delightful that I cannot help wanting to share a taste with my wife. Is this simply Not Done?
If it is done, what is the polite way of doing it? Can I feed her off my fork, like a baby bird? Just hand her my fork? Should I cut off a morsel and put it on her bread plate? Should we switch plates? Switch seats? There doesn't seem to be a graceful way of doing this, but depriving her of something I am enjoying so greatly seems the most impolite of all. A.As long as the sharing is agreeable to you, your wife and the tablecloth, it may be Done. In restaurants, unlike dinner parties, it is acceptable to acknowledge that you went there for the food.
The truly graceful method is to tell the waiter you plan to share a particular course, so that he can bring an extra plate and fork. This is known as splitting an order. For spontaneous sharing, use the bread plate method for anything dripping sauce, but the fork is all right for nonmessy items.
One way is to offer your plate, so that your wife may take something with her own fork. The baby-bird version is vaguely romantic. However, the main consideration in choosing which way to do it is not your feeling about your dinner partner, but respect for the linens.
Q.We were recently invited to an open-house party occasioned by the hostess's desire to show off her newly decorated apartment.
We were astounded to find that part of the decor was little lettered signs placed in strategic locations warning the guests: "Please do not bring food or drink to the living room," "Please do not sit on the bed," and "No drinks or ashtrays on the piano." We understand that one invitation was given on condition that the couple's 5-year-old child was not to come.
We would appreciate your opinion of the advisability of instructions to guests. Needless to say, most of these guests were put off, feeling their intelligence had been insulted. I sincerely doubt that future invitations to this particular museum will find acceptance.
A.Did the front closet have a sign saying, "Watch your coat -- management not responsible"? Did the bathroom have one advising, "Curb your dog"? Surely, guests were warned that anyone attempting to pocket the bibelots would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Hospitality requires that one trust one's guests to behave themselves. Miss Manners is thoroughly aware that some of them betray such trust, but finds that no excuse for treating them all as potential violators.
She agrees that the kindest thing these people can do for their hostess is to leave her to enjoy her premises without fear.