HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

How to look dignified while eating messy food...

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. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Everything I eat looks good on me. I want to enjoy my food; that's why we have bibs, napkins and wet towels.

    1. 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. A monocle has always worked for me.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Naco

          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

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

            1. re: mamachef

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

              1. re: Firegoat

                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

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

                  1. re: FoodFuser

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

            2. 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. i say : dance like no one is watching

                1 Reply
                1. re: thew

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

                      1. 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. 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. Why would you want to?

                            1. 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

                                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

                                  Shout is the greatest invention of our time!

                                  1. re: mnosyne

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

                                      1. re: mnosyne

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

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          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

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

                                            1. re: mnosyne

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

                              2. 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. Let your hair down and go with the flow.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Veggo

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

                                  2. 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. 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. 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

                                          >>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

                                        2. 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

                                            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.

                                          2. 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

                                              The boob board catches most of it, for sure.

                                            2. 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. I can never eat a cheeseburger in public...

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: RadovenisRad

                                                  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: viperlush

                                                      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

                                                        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

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

                                                  1. 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

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

                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                        I believe that's the sniglet "snorfed"

                                                        1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                          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

                                                            And that gets SO expensive, doesn't it?

                                                        2. 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

                                                            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: mariacarmen

                                                                  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. 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.