HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese?
TELL US

How to look dignified while eating messy food...

p
PotatoPuff Jan 19, 2011 02:30 PM

Any innovative tips for not looking like a kid when eating tacos with lots of sauce, overstuffed falafel sandwiches, particularly messy burgers, etc.? Spagetti I've mastered, but for some reason, I'm still a klutz when it comes to the rest...

  1. mucho gordo Jan 19, 2011 02:48 PM

    Everything I eat looks good on me. I want to enjoy my food; that's why we have bibs, napkins and wet towels.

    1. gaffk Jan 19, 2011 02:57 PM

      I love French onion soup, but I won't eat it when dining with strangers. I have no dignified way of scooping up that broiled cheese, soup, onions and bread.

      Bottom line: if I'm dining with strangers or people I want to impress, I stick to "neat" foods.

      When eating with friends & family, anything goes.

      1. Naco Jan 19, 2011 03:12 PM

        A monocle has always worked for me.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Naco
          mariacarmen Jan 19, 2011 04:02 PM

          ahahaha you beat me to it, i was going to say a top hat and monocle.

          as to the OP's question, you can eat with gusto without being disgusting. enjoy your food!

          1. re: mariacarmen
            mamachef Jan 25, 2011 07:07 AM

            Top hat, monocle, and cravat. Something tweedy and eccentric. You cannot fail.

            1. re: mamachef
              Firegoat Jan 25, 2011 07:13 AM

              Why can't I find the monocle store in the yellow pages?

              1. re: Firegoat
                mamachef Jan 25, 2011 07:35 AM

                Hmmmm....pawnshop? Antique store? Optometrist? Who will charge you so much money, your dinner cost is going to just about square itself. : )
                Just......if you splatter or drip, assume a deadpan look as if you MEANT to do it, because all the best people know it's just the thing to do. Dare them to giggle. : )

                1. re: Firegoat
                  FoodFuser Jan 25, 2011 03:22 PM

                  Give a phone call to Planters Peanuts. Ask for the Logo division.

                  1. re: FoodFuser
                    gaffk Jan 25, 2011 03:41 PM

                    If thy don't answer, Parker Bros Monopoly Division will be happy to help ;)

                    1. re: gaffk
                      mariacarmen Jan 28, 2011 11:34 PM

                      As will The New Yorker.

            2. re: Naco
              Firegoat Jan 20, 2011 05:47 AM

              +1

            3. lisavf Jan 19, 2011 03:17 PM

              In the now-infamous words of one of my MIL's beaus, a fussy man if there ever was one, "There is no genteel way to eat ribs." For once in his life, he just dug in and went for it.

              1. thew Jan 19, 2011 04:17 PM

                i say : dance like no one is watching

                1 Reply
                1. re: thew
                  m
                  Miri1 Jan 19, 2011 04:35 PM

                  If you're eating messy food at all, chances are you're with something like know and like. And they may be eating messy food too, so just dive in, and slurp away! :)

                2. h
                  HillJ Jan 19, 2011 06:15 PM

                  Like Miri1 said, make sure at least one other person you are dining with is ordering messy food too and you're not alone !

                  1. KaimukiMan Jan 19, 2011 06:40 PM

                    why would you want to?

                    if you want to look dignified, then get something you can eat with a knife and fork (which has only been considered dignified for a century or so). If you are someplace and ribs or overstuffed tacos, or pizza is being offered then it is doubtful the host expects you to be overly dignified.

                    Now once you have it in your mouth, dab at the corners with your napkin, try not to talk with your mouth full, don't guzzle a beer or soda to wash it down with, and look happy. That should be dignified enough.

                    1. s
                      sedimental Jan 19, 2011 07:18 PM

                      Wear lots of "bling", wear clothes that don't show tomato sauce, and don't apologize for enjoying every drippy mouthful :)

                      1. TheHuntress Jan 19, 2011 07:55 PM

                        I think the most dignifed thing when eating messy food is to just enjoy it for what it is. There's nothing more painful than someone who can't enjoy their food because they can't be 'neat' about it. Don't wear white, roll your sleeves up and never apologise.

                        1. im_nomad Jan 20, 2011 05:47 AM

                          I suppose you could eat it with a knife and fork, but that takes all the fun out of it. The only suggestion I can offer is to cover mouth with hand if too much comes out of the bun in a bite, and lots of napkins.

                          Look around, people probably look just as messy as you.

                          1. b
                            beevod Jan 20, 2011 06:27 AM

                            Why would you want to?

                            1. tracylee Jan 20, 2011 04:45 PM

                              My Mom wears everything she eats, and always spills coffee down her front. We all just laugh it off. Then there was the time she gave me some of her white shirts. The first time I wore one to eat breakfast with my then-husband, he asked about it, and when I told him it was from Mom, we both scrutinized the front for coffee stains! We got a good laugh out of it.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: tracylee
                                mariacarmen Jan 21, 2011 07:47 PM

                                when i used to do a lot of dry cleaning, all of my clothes would come back with the little tag that said "Sorry - we've tried and we've tried, but we could not get this stain out!" I've finally learned to go TO my plate, as opposed to making my fork come to me.

                                1. re: mariacarmen
                                  mnosyne Jan 21, 2011 10:07 PM

                                  Shout is the greatest invention of our time!

                                  1. re: mnosyne
                                    Will Owen Jan 24, 2011 09:51 AM

                                    Zout works better! Go ahead, ask me how I know that …

                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                      mnosyne Jan 24, 2011 11:36 AM

                                      What is zout?

                                      1. re: mnosyne
                                        Veggo Jan 24, 2011 11:49 AM

                                        Everything that isn't in?
                                        It's a brand of stain remover.

                                        1. re: Veggo
                                          Will Owen Jan 24, 2011 12:37 PM

                                          Recommended to us by a professional wardrobe/costumer person, who is used to encountering really fierce stains that MUST be removed by the next performance or take or whatever. This is the one product on which she relies, and after extensive usage so do we.

                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                            mnosyne Jan 24, 2011 04:11 PM

                                            When I worked in museum conservation, one of our most valuable stain removers was a mild enzymatic solution, i.e. spit!

                                            1. re: mnosyne
                                              c oliver Jan 24, 2011 05:02 PM

                                              Love it but then you circle all the way back to that "dignified" issue :)

                              2. al b. darned Jan 21, 2011 07:34 PM

                                I'm one of those people who shouldn't be allowed to eat in public. As a result, I pick my courses carefully when eating out. No pasta w/red sauce is at the top of the list. While I am no fashion plate, I try not to look like a total slob when we eat out.

                                1. Veggo Jan 21, 2011 08:16 PM

                                  Let your hair down and go with the flow.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Veggo
                                    mariacarmen Jan 21, 2011 09:34 PM

                                    My problem is that the food ends up in my hair. That's for later!

                                  2. c oliver Jan 22, 2011 05:12 PM

                                    A number of lifetimes ago I had a third and final interview for a job that I really wanted. It was for dinner so they were clearly wanting to check out my table manners :) I actually spents alot of time considering what I would wear. But I also spent time thinking about what items I would NOT order. I can remember crab being on that list.

                                    One thing that's the kiss of death for me is that invariably I wind up wearing a white shirt when we go for dim sum. I ALWAYS 'dribble' down my front. Recently I tucked a napkin in my collar :)

                                    1. steve h. Jan 22, 2011 05:24 PM

                                      Throw dignity out the window.
                                      Nobody looks dignified after successfully eating Chilli Crab in Singapore. They do look happy.
                                      Dig in, have fun, show a love of life that would make your laundry person proud.
                                      It's not about you. It's about the need for good food.
                                      Oh, get hosed down after the meal.

                                      1. ipsedixit Jan 22, 2011 05:37 PM

                                        As long as you look like you are enjoying your food, you will look dignified ... no matter how messy you are.

                                        A happy diner is a dignified diner.

                                        People who approach eating like a dental appointment may think they are appearing dignified, but in reality it just makes it look like, well, they're sitting in a dentist's chair.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          cayjohan Jan 23, 2011 06:07 PM

                                          >>People who approach eating like a dental appointment may think they are appearing dignified, but in reality it just makes it look like, well, they're sitting in a dentist's chair.<<

                                          -------
                                          What an apt line. I feel compelled to inform you that I intend to steal it, as it might do some good in my world. If only for my amusement, but still...

                                          Cay

                                          1. re: cayjohan
                                            ipsedixit Jan 23, 2011 06:13 PM

                                            It's all yours.

                                        2. k
                                          k_d Jan 23, 2011 05:38 PM

                                          Hm. After reading all the concern about red-sauce pastas, it reminds me that years ago, my home-based babysitter used to strip the kids down to their diapers/undies to feed them spaghetti. Then, she just had to wash them down with a washcloth after lunch and re-dress them in their original outfits. At the end of the day, you never knew they had "pah-sketti" for lunch. 'Course, not sure that helps a 'hound in a restaurant much, does it?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: k_d
                                            p
                                            PotatoPuff Jan 24, 2011 08:43 AM

                                            amazing idea, will keep it in mind for babysitting; however, I don't know how well that would go over if I decided to dine au natural the next time I had friends over for taco night. That might look even more undignified.

                                            1. re: PotatoPuff
                                              thew Jan 24, 2011 09:04 AM

                                              you need better friends........

                                          2. mnosyne Jan 24, 2011 09:41 AM

                                            I have often been troubled by the "spot in the center of the bosom", especially when sauces are involved. I have found that a well placed piece of bread, held in the other hand, can ward off the inevitable "patacca".

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mnosyne
                                              c oliver Jan 24, 2011 10:00 AM

                                              The boob board catches most of it, for sure.

                                            2. Will Owen Jan 24, 2011 09:54 AM

                                              Only thing I can think of is, "Eat it at home, preferably by yourself!" I was actually thinking of this the other day, while consuming a double cheeseburger with a handful of fries stuffed into it. Delicious, but I was goo to the elbows, and glad to have a sink handy!

                                              1. r
                                                RadovenisRad Jan 24, 2011 10:12 AM

                                                I can never eat a cheeseburger in public...

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: RadovenisRad
                                                  Will Owen Jan 24, 2011 10:25 AM

                                                  One secret I'll pass on: I have a Hawaiian-style shirt with a sort of tight paisley pattern, mostly in dark reds and browns, that we call my Eatin' Shirt. I could spill a whole plate of spaghetti on it, and if you weren't right next to me you'd never know it!

                                                  1. re: RadovenisRad
                                                    viperlush Jan 24, 2011 11:28 AM

                                                    Use a knife and fork.

                                                    1. re: viperlush
                                                      mucho gordo Jan 24, 2011 02:53 PM

                                                      If the hand is a bit shaky a knife and fork won't help. Soup; by the time I get the spoon to my mouth, it's empty. Wanna guess where the soup winds up?

                                                      1. re: mucho gordo
                                                        Veggo Jan 24, 2011 05:26 PM

                                                        mucho, you should ladle soup into a teacup or mug and surp it in small batches. My father has advanced parkinsons and can't use utensils at all. You do what you gotta do.

                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                          KaimukiMan Jan 24, 2011 09:48 PM

                                                          find some large diameter straws, they sell them for asian bubble tea.

                                                  2. c
                                                    cheesemaestro Jan 24, 2011 10:29 AM

                                                    Doesn't it always seem to be at the precise moment that bits of meat are hanging from the corners of your mouth and the tomato sauce is dribbling from your chin onto your shirt that your server arrives to ask "How is everything?"?

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                      tracylee Jan 24, 2011 11:27 AM

                                                      That's where the head-bob and "mmmm mmmm" come in handy!

                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                        m
                                                        MacTAC Jan 24, 2011 04:36 PM

                                                        I believe that's the sniglet "snorfed"

                                                        1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                          Will Owen Jan 24, 2011 04:50 PM

                                                          My instinct is to give him the full drooling protein-crazed animal grin and try to say "Scrumptious!!" really loud with my mouth full, but out of deference to my table mates I don't. That and the desire to have Mrs. O consent to come home with me instead of fleeing to Mom, and then a lawyer …

                                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                                            c oliver Jan 24, 2011 05:02 PM

                                                            And that gets SO expensive, doesn't it?

                                                        2. FoodFuser Jan 24, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                          It is imperative that, when eating chicken wings, both pinky fingers remain raised. It's akin to the proper sipping from a demitasse.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: FoodFuser
                                                            FoodFuser Jan 26, 2011 10:05 AM

                                                            The drummie-half of wings are not really a problem
                                                            to munch down while maintaining pinky decorum.
                                                            The tough one's that flat two-bone forearm that offers
                                                            those strands of the wing's of most succulent meat.

                                                            I propose we give etiquette's standards a shifting
                                                            to allow for a finger or thumb-pressured pushing
                                                            To get at the meat between those tiny bones
                                                            but for heaven's sake, don't push with your tongue.

                                                            1. re: FoodFuser
                                                              f
                                                              Floridagirl Jan 28, 2011 03:21 PM

                                                              Porchetta poetry

                                                              1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                mariacarmen Jan 28, 2011 11:35 PM

                                                                Por que the poetry?

                                                                1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                  FoodFuser Jan 29, 2011 03:52 AM

                                                                  Given its greasiness, we could call it Parkay.

                                                                  Just melt it, add hot sauce, and you've got the dressing for buffalo wings.

                                                                  But this would conflate our decorum dilemma
                                                                  and mandate the wearing of bibs.
                                                                  And then, being clad in that fresh linen armor
                                                                  We'd reach for that plate of thickly sauced ribs.

                                                                  Now past the threshold of both ribs and them wings
                                                                  it may be you're not helped by deftly hefted pinkies.
                                                                  Maybe better to scarf down and quickly engorge
                                                                  and then seek quiet exit, escorted to backdoor.

                                                          2. KarenDW Jan 26, 2011 12:13 AM

                                                            I am wondering the same about eating soup noodles. Sometimes I don't have the presence of mind to consider my lunchtime options before choosing my wardrobe of the day.

                                                            Show Hidden Posts