HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Are you making a specialty food? Share your adventure

Do You Not Eat Something in Public You May Enjoy Because it is Socially Unacceptable?

michele cindy Sep 18, 2006 12:09 PM

In the "Soy Sauce on Rice" thread someone mentioned in Japan, putting soy sauce on rice was considered gauche. It made me wonder if anyone out there would really not eat something in public they otherwise enjoy, but don't do so because it was considered socially unacceptable, or tacky to do so?

  1. b
    beevod Sep 18, 2006 12:57 PM

    Socially unacceptable? I can't imagine not eating something in public because of what other, lesser people might think.

    1. Davwud Sep 18, 2006 02:22 PM

      I may not eat something in public if I knew it was gonna be messy. Like a chili dog or something. Other than that, if I like it, I don't care where I am. I'll eat it.


      1. b
        bijoux16 Sep 18, 2006 03:00 PM

        I'm pretty underweight, and last year I was bordering on skeletal with a bmi below 16. if I ate a salad, people stared and assumed I had an eating disorder. if I ate something fatty, people stared in confusion. after a while i just stopped eating in public altogether.

        1. DiningDiva Sep 18, 2006 03:30 PM

          You know, it's not gauche, socially unacceptable or tacky, but I don't eat corn-on-the-cob in public because it's messy and a stray kernel or two can get stuck in your teeth (which, I guess could be considered tacky), and.......well, it generally just more bother than it's worth <sigh>. And I dearly love corn-on-the-cob

          2 Replies
          1. re: DiningDiva
            silence9 Sep 18, 2006 04:05 PM

            Same here, regarding corn-on-the-cob or anything that potentially gets tightly wedged into the 'ol choppers. I love bbq ribs, but the pork or beef from ribs will always get firmly wedged in between my teeth. If i'm going straight home, no problem. if I'm out for the evening, I don't want to hassle with flossing in the restroom or worse, toothpicks...

            1. re: DiningDiva
              slacker Sep 18, 2006 09:24 PM

              Same here too. I've taken to cutting the kernels off of the cob when I'm in public and have something sharper than a butter knife.

            2. e
              eve Sep 18, 2006 03:43 PM

              meat on a bone--steak, chops, chicken. Of course, if it's a casual restaurant not a problem. But rack of lamb in a haute cuisine spot?? Not likely. At finer steak houses, I ask for the bone to go--that's a fairly usual request anyway.

              1. ericalloyd Sep 18, 2006 04:46 PM

                ice cream cones because i can never finish the ice cream before it starts dripping down my arm.

                1. DanaB Sep 18, 2006 04:56 PM

                  I would say the only thing I do along these lines is try to avoid bringing foods that are smelly to the office. I hate it when someone else eats something that stinks up the place, so I do my best to avoid doing the same.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: DanaB
                    Loren3 Sep 18, 2006 08:00 PM

                    ...and airplanes. Imagine someone opening up a stinky chili dog on a packed MD80! I have enough trouble with the pizza, and I am glad of the sick sack in the seat back if someone brings Taco Bell on board. Just thinking about it gives me the huhs.

                    1. re: Loren3
                      River Rat Sep 19, 2006 01:36 AM

                      A few years ago a friend asked us to bring back a muffaletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans. Got on the plane with two of them in a plastic bag, but they still smelled up the plane.

                      1. re: River Rat
                        janedoe67 Sep 22, 2006 07:04 AM

                        That reminds me of a time when I was in cooking school. We all had to bring cheese in for a project. The cheese I was told to bring was Limburger. I took two trains to school and I'm sure everyone within 20 feet of me thought that I was on an "all bean" diet.

                        1. re: River Rat
                          dylafleur Sep 24, 2006 03:58 AM

                          truffles smuggled from italy could be smelled thru my carry on.

                          balsamic spilled...oh my. food brought back on planes and be smelly.

                    2. Katie Nell Sep 18, 2006 04:59 PM

                      Well, now I'm not going to eat soy sauce on my rice in public!! ;-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Katie Nell
                        ipsedixit Sep 19, 2006 07:45 PM


                      2. e
                        ESNY Sep 18, 2006 08:10 PM

                        In public, I try not to stop at other people's tables and eat off their plates.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ESNY
                          Katie Nell Sep 18, 2006 08:14 PM

                          So not funny, I had that happen to me! I'm still mad about that damn chocolate-covered strawberry!

                        2. w
                          wontonton Sep 18, 2006 09:22 PM

                          Depends on the definition of "public" I guess. I never eat anything on a bus or subway. The smell of fast food on public transportation somehow induces my gag reflex. Similarly, if people smuggle outside food into the movies and chow down on chicken wings or pad thai in the seat next to me it tends to make me tense up. The trend of the newer theaters to sell all kinds of stuff like nachos, chicken fingers and curly fries is bad enough as is. I'll stick with the popcorn.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: wontonton
                            TexasToast Sep 18, 2006 10:19 PM

                            Yeah, that's my one thing. I don't eat on the Subway. Otherwise, I'm okay with public eating . . . except maybe BBQ at a football game (Texas-style) cuz that's gonna get messy what with sauce and beans.


                            1. re: wontonton
                              mamamia Sep 18, 2006 10:31 PM

                              Oh, like the woman next to me who broke out the full size bag of pork rinds on a 3.5 hour flight last month.

                              She proceeded to mow through the whole thing, leaving me gagging from the smell.


                            2. davinagr Sep 18, 2006 09:26 PM

                              For me it's sloppy foods you eat with your hands like corn on the cob, saucy ribs or chicken...otherwise everything else is fair game.

                              1. mamamia Sep 18, 2006 10:33 PM

                                I used to work with a woman who would bring leftover fish in almost everyday for lunch. She always left the kitchen area smelling tragic from the reheating.

                                I always wondered what nice smells eminated from her kitchen at home....

                                1. Carb Lover Sep 19, 2006 01:57 AM

                                  When at a restaurant, I'll usually order whatever I feel like regardless if it may be messy or bits may stick in my teeth. That's what napkins and bathrooms are for.

                                  The only thing that I love eating that I MUCH prefer to eat at home is Dungeness crab. 2 steamed crabs + 1 bottle of champagne + husband = a perfect way to spend Fri. night at home.

                                  1. Veggietales Sep 19, 2006 02:43 AM

                                    I like spam and would never admit that in public, let alone eat it in public.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Veggietales
                                      melly Sep 19, 2006 03:40 AM

                                      They eat alot of it in Hawaii..restaurants serve it all the time! You'd love it there.

                                      1. re: melly
                                        pizookie75 Sep 23, 2006 06:25 AM

                                        Fortunately, Hawaiian food is comfort food in Orange County (CA), so I'm proud to claim I have spam musubi cravings often.

                                        1. re: pizookie75
                                          rumgum Sep 24, 2006 03:59 PM

                                          Love spam musubi. Don't think I would eat it in public. But I wouldn't know. I usually finish it really fast in the car because it's so yummy.

                                          1. re: rumgum
                                            mr_fro2000 Sep 26, 2006 02:08 AM

                                            fried spam, sunny side up eggs, rice and kimchee...the korean breakfast of champions!

                                            1. re: mr_fro2000
                                              TexasToast Sep 26, 2006 11:53 AM

                                              Surely not all at the same time . . . right?


                                              1. re: TexasToast
                                                brekkie_fan Sep 27, 2006 02:45 AM

                                                I'm pretty sure they meant all at once :)

                                                1. re: brekkie_fan
                                                  Blueicus Sep 27, 2006 03:19 AM

                                                  Spam, poached egg and instant noodles = many a dinner and lunch with my parents.

                                              2. re: mr_fro2000
                                                rumgum Sep 27, 2006 04:29 AM

                                                Do you make fried rice with kimchee, top it with the sunny side up egg and eat it with the side of spam? Because that's yummy too!

                                      2. Emme Sep 19, 2006 02:55 AM

                                        As to the gauche-ness, I like ketchup on most everything... I even like it on lobster. Criticize, make ews, and lecture me on the ruination of a delicacy, but those are my tastebuds, and it's my food. I will put ketchup on my plate for lobster under two conditions: 1, if I am with people I know, and that know and understand my weirdities; and 2, if ketchup is already on the table for someone else's meal- I will generally not ask the waiter to "bring me ketchup for my lobster."

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Emme
                                          Veggietales Sep 21, 2006 04:06 AM

                                          I like ketchup on my fried chicken ;-)

                                          1. re: Veggietales
                                            michele cindy Sep 22, 2006 11:27 AM

                                            Me too! It some how balances well with the grease. I also like it on boiled soup chicken.

                                          2. re: Emme
                                            hatless Sep 27, 2006 01:58 PM

                                            At first I was a little appalled re: ketchup on lobster, but cocktail sauce is just doctored ketchup, so why wouldn't it be good? To me, cocktail sauce would be preferable just because I think horseradish complements shellfish well, but I can see how ketchup wouldn't necessarily be bad.

                                            1. re: Emme
                                              ildos Sep 27, 2006 02:10 PM

                                              I have a friend who always asks for Tabasco. Even at fine restaurants. It really upsets me!

                                            2. p
                                              Panini Guy Sep 21, 2006 06:34 AM

                                              Any fear I might have had about eating sloppy food in public ended on a trip to a print industry trade show in Dusseldorf.

                                              There, the convention hall food was predominately sausages.
                                              The Germans in attendance would wolf down these extremely large, thick sausages while standing up. And they were not in buns. They would just pick up the sausage, tilt their heads back and stick the sausage in their mouth.

                                              The average American homophobe likely would have been appalled at the imagery.

                                              As they say, when in Rome, or Dusseldorf... I decided to toss the tiny little roll the concessonaire put on the plate and see how much sausage I could deep throat.

                                              Not bad. But the food at Italian trade shows is much, much better.

                                              1. pikawicca Sep 21, 2006 12:40 PM

                                                Fried eggs with catsup and Worcestershire mixed in with the yolk.

                                                1. amandine Sep 22, 2006 06:37 AM

                                                  you all will probably laugh, but even in grad school the ethnic lunch phobia from grade school still prevails. i don't like bringing "weird" stuff to school (recent e.g. lentils i made, because brown lentils look so ugly!)... we still eat in groups out on the quad during break so i prefer bringing salads or sandwiches. and also people know me as a foodie and tend to make a big fuss about how i always cook and how can you find time etc. etc. so i intentionally simplify my lunches because of that.

                                                  1. frenetica Sep 22, 2006 03:14 PM

                                                    I say throw caution to the wind. I like sucking on shrimp heads - perfectly acceptable in Asia and weird as all hell in the US.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: frenetica
                                                      TexasToast Sep 24, 2006 06:48 PM

                                                      Which is why many years ago, at a Japanese restaurant, when the lady brought out the shrimp sashimi, there was a separate plate (With forks) containing just the heads. She looked really stunned when I ate the shrimp but didn't touch the heads.


                                                      1. re: TexasToast
                                                        frenetica Sep 25, 2006 03:09 PM

                                                        Well you ought to have, as shrimp brains are a tasty treat :)

                                                        1. re: frenetica
                                                          TexasToast Sep 26, 2006 11:54 AM

                                                          Not a big brain person, of any animal. Goat, cow, monkey, it just doesn't do it for me.


                                                    2. Divamac Sep 24, 2006 03:35 AM

                                                      I don't eat oranges in public, but that's because I peel each segment and it takes an hour, and I look like I have OCD. So orange-eating is a private thing I do at home. Alone.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Divamac
                                                        Biggie Sep 26, 2006 03:54 PM

                                                        I'm glad I'm not the only psycho that peels each segment

                                                        1. re: Biggie
                                                          TexasToast Sep 27, 2006 11:09 AM

                                                          Do you mean that you peel the stringy white pith off each segment? I do that with tanerines and satsumas, but not oranges.


                                                          1. re: TexasToast
                                                            Biggie Sep 27, 2006 12:22 PM

                                                            correct - I do it with all citrus that I eat

                                                            1. re: TexasToast
                                                              Divamac Sep 30, 2006 04:33 AM

                                                              i think it's very calming to peel each segment, remove all the pith to eat the lovely, juicy pieces!

                                                              1. re: Divamac
                                                                TexasToast Oct 2, 2006 02:55 PM

                                                                That's what Global knives are for. Just cut the orange in half and suck out the juice!


                                                        2. csw Sep 26, 2006 12:31 AM

                                                          caesar salad smells like feet on airplanes.
                                                          Salty preserved fish
                                                          Canned/Packet tuna fish

                                                          1. k
                                                            keencook1 Sep 26, 2006 04:29 PM

                                                            I have been actively discouraged from eating lobster in public, as I am a complete disassembler; there won't be two bits of shell together by the time I'm done. And it takes a very long time for me to work my way through a lobster. Think dessert, coffee, and after dinner drink for unfortunate dining companions.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: keencook1
                                                              auberginegal Sep 26, 2006 05:00 PM

                                                              i take a very long time eating lobster (and crab too). i prefer eating at home, taking all the time i need, being messy without worrying about it, and it's cheaper too.

                                                            2. choctastic Oct 1, 2006 04:18 AM

                                                              I've learned thru hard experience not to eat fishy stuff and microwved cooked cruciferous vegetables in front of others. The smell of both is nasty. Oh yeah and I sit away from people when I eat kimchi or related items. I also try not to breathe on people afterwards; breath mints don't seem to fully expunge it.

                                                              1. The Engineer Oct 2, 2006 07:26 PM

                                                                I don't drink through a straw in public. Sounds wierd I know. One time eating alone in a restaurant full of mirrors (there was one directly across from me which would normally be blocked by a tablemate) I saw what I look like using a straw. Frightening! Try it yourself!

                                                                1. ssusu Oct 3, 2006 05:51 AM

                                                                  This thread makes me wonder how people eat marrow bones in a restaurant. How is it possible to resist picking up the dang thing and sucking every last morsel of savory heart-attack-inducing goodness?

                                                                  1. vicki_vale Oct 3, 2006 11:53 PM

                                                                    There are definitely foods that are off-limits in confined spaces like airplanes, buses, and shared spaces like an office environment:

                                                                    1. At one point, a former colleague was on a special weight-loss diet that included fish three times a week, cooked in a loosely covered dish in the office microwave! No amount of lemon wedges could kill the stench, which lingered in the office for the rest of the afternoon. We all prayed for her to lose weight, quickly, and save us from further torture.

                                                                    2. Kimchee. This one was my fault. I secretly ate an entire package of pickled turnips one day in the office (it must have been a bad day). I thought I would spare all my neighbors from the stench. But then hours later, my boss went hunting and unearthed the empty container from the garbage can and took it off-site....it STILL REEKED so bad he followed the stink trail to the source. People were still complaining about it the next day. Never again!

                                                                    1. vicki_vale Oct 3, 2006 11:59 PM

                                                                      and one more...

                                                                      3. Authentic stinky French cheese in a tropical climate. Another colleague's idea of a cultural exchange. Add to that a frightened cleaning lady calling the management to report possible dead animal in Mr. Smelly's office.

                                                                      Show Hidden Posts