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Jul 17, 2001 02:16 PM

People who help themselves to food off your plate

  • t

An earlier post dealt with dining with people who don't enjoy food. Here's a reverse situation: dining with people who enjoy food so much they start picking food off your plate like French fries, fried calamari and other finger food. I don't mind when a group of us shares dishes around the table but hate it when individuals start helping themselves to my plate. Has this ever happened to you? What did you say or do without embarrassing yourself or the person?

BTW, this is NOT the same crowd that I described in my earlier post that don't pay their fair share. Gee, maybe I should get some new eating/drinking buddies! I love eating out but really don't know how to handle these intangible situations that crop up. Otherwise, my friends are great.

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  1. m

    same answer, learn to be gracious.
    as soon as they reach for your food just let them.
    but casually summon the waiter and request a side order for your friends. this will cost you once,
    after that they will get the hint and leave your plate alone.
    you dont have to confront anyone and as a gracious eater your ordering a side dish is seen as a nice gester. a gester that will subconciously make those pickers feel guilty next time they think about eating your food.
    no fuss, no worry, no stress. just gracious living.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mrranchcuisine

      I say stab 'em in the hand with a fork. Unless you really like them or really hate the food.

      1. re: mrranchcuisine

        I agree. I have been known to hoard food in a hypoglycemic induced frenzy, but was once told by a Mexican mother, "There's always plenty of food. The more you share, the more food there seems to be."

        Not to be taken literally, maybe, but it is a sentiment that reaffirms why we eat *together* and not solitarily.

      2. oooh, don't get me started!! :-)

        I happily share from my plate--in fact, I insist that everyone sample my selection. BUT--I have a dear friend who eats ten times more quickly than I do. And, more than once, I've realized that my share of, say, two dumplings--has dwindled to one. She eats so swifly that her portion (and half of mine) is gone in an instant. THEN--she apologizes profusely--and insists on ordering me another appetizer. So I land up with TOO much food.

        But we're good enough friends, now, for me to spear that greedy hand with my fork. And she's learned I won't hesitate. :-)

        1. I certainly don't mind if one of my tablemates asks for a taste, as long as they reciprocate. But I can't stand it when someone, even my husband, casually eats off my plate without asking.

          When we're eating with others who start out wanting to share everything, much as I'm happy to do so, I usually run into trouble. I have four big-time food allergies: shrimp, fresh salmon, fresh turkey and cinnamon. (I can eat smoked salmon and turkey, so you needn't feel too bad for me.) Also, I don't much care for hot(spicy) foods, but I can usually find something I'll be happy with on any menu. Inevitably, the group will decide on several dishes that I simply won't be able to share, so I'll order something else - that's just for me - which I end up having to share, as well. Example: at Nobu recently, when the rest of the table chose a shrimp dish, I didn't want to just watch while they ate, so I ordered tempura-fried softshell crabs. So the three of them shared a huge dish of shrimp and, of course, my small order of softshells, too. So I got another order which, naturally, was shared, but at least I got to eat my fill.

          I know it's petty, but it does annoy me. I simply don't know how to discourage poaching like that without appearing childish, so I act the good sport. I suppose it's not such a big deal as long as I don't end up leaving the table hungry.

          1. A while back I used to work with an engineer who used to come over to my desk several times a week and stick his clammy paw in my french fries while exclaiming "frencH fries!! WOW!! HEY THANKS!! After a few weeks of this behavior I started spitting on my french fries while he was eyeing them up.

            This solved the problem.