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Double-dipping - explain it to me

Anyone who's traveled in Asia knows double-dipping is a very common occurrence. People will double-dip a piece of fish cake (or whatever) in a dish of soy sauce that twenty other strangers have double-dipped. So that's what I grew up with until I was in early teens.

I'll never forget the day I learned what double-dipping means in this country - I was at a friend's birthday party. We were served apple wedges with caramel dip. I took a wedge, dipped it in caramel, took a bite, and dipped it again. The entire room looked at me with absolute horror. It was like if I had blown my nose really loudly, maybe worse. Since then, of course, I have learned not to double-dip unless I'm with my husband or very close friends who I know don't mind. It's always fascinated me though why people are so sensitive about double-dipping. I mean, I don't think Asian people are any sicker than Americans for doing it, right?

Anybody want to throw their two cents? Whether it bothers you or not, why it bothers you, etc.

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  1. Well, here are my 2 cents. First of all I don't remember "Asian" people double dipping. Even if they do, what you mentioned is a restaurant meal situation, so we are not talking about strangers. I am thinking this would be a little different from party situation. In a restaurant you are eating with 9 other friends. At a party there are many more people, and some of them are indeed strangers.

    And then again here in the US we are much much more cleanliness conscious. So that may also explain it.

    43 Replies
    1. re: PeterL

      Not sure why you put "Asian" in quotes - did you mean you don't remember it from your travels in Asia?

      It's not so much about being "cleanliness conscious" (whatever that means) - it's about different concepts of "clean." For instance - most East Asians would be horrified at the sight of most American home floors and the idea that you would wear same shoes inside and outside.

      1. re: uwsister

        I won't presume to speak for PeterL, but one good reason to put "Asian" in quotes is that there isn't a monolithic "Asian" culture. Customs in Armenia are different from those in Bhutan. Omanis have different table manners than Thais. And Bangladeshis would find dining in a Korean home an exotic experience. The notion that four billion people spread over 17 million square miles would all find double-dipping acceptable (or abhorrent) is faintly silly.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          Ah - I meant "Far East Asia" to be precise. I do tend to make that mistake often, saying/writing Asia when I really meant Far East Asia. My bad - didn't mean to offend any Southern Asians, Western Asians, etc.

          I have a friend who has traveled extensively in India though, and he told me double-dipping is most certainly accepted there from his experience - I remember this because he told me that he was appalled when he was served a dip which was recycled in plain view of customers at a restaurant, even though customers were definitely double-dipping.

          1. re: uwsister

            Well, my family is from 'Far East Asia' and while I was born here, my parents were born there and didn't seem to have that custom. Nor did I see double-dipping as any widespread or common practice while traveling there for seven months.

              1. re: uwsister

                Throughout a good part of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Don't think it's a widespread "Chinese" or "Far East Asian" thing.

                  1. re: uwsister

                    We must have traveled in different circles then, because this is something I would have noticed.

                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                      Oh, it must be because I was raised by wolves. Chinese wolves, I mean ;)

                      No need for snark. Certainly you've seen people eating off communal plates with their own chopsticks.

                      1. re: uwsister

                        Hey sister anyone up for snark fin soup....;-)
                        I was smelling some, "since I didn't see it, can't be real" aroma in the air myself.

                        1. re: Quine

                          Quine, never said that (responding to your 'since I didn't see it, can't be real..') and didn't intend to be snarky -- to be candid, your tone actually strikes me that way but no biggie. If you look back at my posts, I was clear about saying that uwsister and I must have traveled in different circles because I didn't see (meaning, experience) the doubledipping among the many people I dined with in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and in growing up with parents born and raised in China -- in suggesting that we must have traveled in different circles, I was implicitly acknowledging that uwister did/might have experienced the doubledipping herself (in fact, she herself did it) -- otherwise how could we have experienced such different practices?

                          I also said I did not see it as a 'widespread' practice and did not 'think' it was widespread -- always qualified it and did not deny that uwister might have had a different experience.

                          To be fair, I did feel that uwister was over-generalizing (and re: a culture I'm pretty familiar with) so that's why I felt it appropriate to offer my counter-examples. When one makes such sweeping generalizations, it's appropriate in my mind to point out a very different experience (i.e., the experience of never having seen it among the culture in question) -- and when one doesn't see it enough, the generalization itself does reasonably get called into question to the extent of the generalization not being 'real.' That doesn't mean uwister hasn't EVER seen/experienced doubledipping in China or that she is making things up - it just means she might be over-generalizing based on her own, necessarily limited experience.

                          This is starting to remind me of the 'chicken bones' thread so if I don't respond further it's because I'm starting to feel the exchange might be becoming counterproductive (or I might have stopped following this thread). No offense meant.

                          1. re: iyc_nyc

                            I have no idea what "chicken bones" was about, but I think you're taking it way too seriously. Relax. Perhaps I did over-generalize, but I didn't feel like being all politically correct and putting a disclaimer and all that. Of course I didn't mean that every single Chinese person does that nor did I mean it's proper manners there. I meant it's commonly seen and not considered as "wrong" as it is in the U.S. If you disagree, that's okay. It happens.

                            1. re: uwsister

                              Didn't imply you were indicating 'every single Chinese person' did xyz and now you're taking my point to an extreme.

                              And I am relaxed! It's you who have posted numerous responses here, mostly defensive.

                              I'm done posting on this thread - this is becoming counterproductive (and silly, even if entertaining to some extent).

                              1. re: iyc_nyc

                                Yeah, I don't have much to do today so this thread is entertaining me. I'm glad you find this thread entertaining. I think this thread is inherently silly - I mean, it's about double-dipping! Now let's get back to the topic :)

                            2. re: iyc_nyc

                              None taken, I honestly think you and uwsister have tons in common but the way you both give values to the outrider experiences, seems to set you at odds, I honestly do not think that how you say your experiences were different were meant to give the idea of "didn't see it didn't happen.". But it did seem to have that nuance.

                              "my parents were born there and didn't seem to have that custom. "
                              "Nor did I see double-dipping as any widespread or common practice while traveling there for seven months"
                              These come across as more deny of the other view, than wow, I had different experiences.

                              Personally I am excited to get to know two very talented, enthusiastic folks who love to eat and share all the great they love about it. And who want to learn more, understand more explore more! All three of us live in such close get together do up a great eat and meet, It would be a shame not to try.

                              1. re: Quine

                                >Personally I am excited to get to know two very talented, enthusiastic folks who love to eat and share all the great they love about it. And who want to learn more, understand more explore more!

                                Exactly! That's what Chowhound is all about, no?

                              2. re: iyc_nyc

                                I believe uwsister is of Korean heritage (and gets upset if people don't love Korean food) - I wonder if perhaps her experience and terminology differences from yours in this sense may have a bearing.

                                1. re: huiray

                                  Ha, didn't read this until now. Yes, I am 3/4 Korean but no, I don't get upset if people don't love Korean food - I'm one of those rare Koreans who don't really eat kimchi. I like Korean food fine but I can't handle spicy so it's not my favorite. Would be kinda hypocritical if I got mad at other people for not liking it, no? Where the heck did this come from anyway? Hahaha.

                            3. re: uwsister

                              Eating off communal platters using chopsticks and dipping an item of food into a sauce, taking a bite, and dipping it again strike me as two different things.

                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                Double-dipping food, double-dipping chopsticks - I consider both to be double-dipping. YMMV.

                                1. re: uwsister

                                  I have never been to anywhere in Asia (a defficiency which I hope to rectify soon), was not raised in one of the many, many Asian cultures, and am not at all an expert on eating customs on that continent. That said, the first time I went to a Chinese banquet I was gently reprimanded by someone of Chinese descent for using the 'eating' end of the chopsticks for taking an item from a communical platter. I was instructed to instead use the other end of the chopsticks (ie the usually wider end that that doesn't go in one's mouth) for moving food from the communal platter to my plate or bowl, if a spoon was not provided (and that if a spoon or other serving utensil was provided, one would, of course, use it).

                                  Without expressing an opinion on cultural differences, I would suggest based on my experience, which has since been confirmed in other similar instances, that you might want to take a closer look at that 'double-dipping with chopsticks' behavior: it could be that you are missing that the dipping is from the other end of the sticks.

                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    A few of us split some appetizers at a restaurant 2 weeks ago and i mentioned this method to them. Each of them smiled and used both ends of the sticks, one to serve, the other to eat. The circle in the pond is slowly expanding to proper manners.

                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                      I am aware of the practice. Some people do it, some don't. Personally I don't like it 'cause I don't like to get food on my hands. Even if I wipe it it often leaves oily residue on my chopsticks. Personal preference.

                                      1. re: uwsister

                                        When dining with others and sharing food, I think the concern here is about not getting our saliva etc on their food, which in my opinion (no 'snark' meant) should trump concerns about oily residue from our own food on our own chopsticks.

                                        That said, I agree with another poster's comment that one's hands can (in some cases) bring more contaminants to food than one's mouth -- especially in the case where one isn't particularly deft with the chopsticks and one is not particularly hygienic with one's hands.

                                      2. re: susancinsf

                                        and it again ignored the fact that one's mouth generally has fewer germs than ones hands

                                        1. re: thew

                                          I wasn't commenting on whether it was effective or not, just that it is, at least in my limited experience, a not uncommon practice. That said, I don't understand why this would necessarily get food on one's hands, or vice versa, any more than eating and taking the food with the same end of the chopsticks would do. I mean, can't you just twist the chopsticks around in a similar way to how you would twist a baton? (Indeed, I just went and tried it with my own home chopsticks to be certain. Sure enough, the position of my hand on the stick didn't change from when I was using one end to when I used the other. all I did was twist the stick around. So I guess I have to say 'huh?' to the two comments about hands. They aren't involved either way, as far as I can tell.)

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            You must be more talented with chopsticks than I am.

                                            I didn't say it was an uncommon practice - I simply stated my preference. Hey - that sort of rhymes.

                                            1. re: uwsister

                                              the more I think about it, the more I think, 'huh?'. Even if I am more talented with chopsticks than some, even the biggest klutz out there should be able to touch the chopsticks in the same part (ie the middle) regardless of which end they pick food up with and which end they eat with. Assuming you pick up the chopsticks at all, there will be some contact between hands and sticks, but it doesn't explain to me why one method would involve more risk of hand contamination than the other.

                                              Indeed, if the concern is hands around food, then it seems to me that any type of utensil that you have to pick up with your hand is as problematic as any other, but that they are all less problematic than picking up the food with your hand.

                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                Don't think too hard. I don't hold my chopsticks in the middle. I hold it close to the end. I'm not concerned about "hand contamination" either - I simply don't like my hands getting oily, sticky, etc. thew was the one who mentioned germs on hands. Perhaps you were replying to him.

                                              2. re: uwsister

                                                Uwister, no need for sarcasm/defensiveness in your replies (to susancinsf most recently).Just saying - thought susan posted with the best of intentions.

                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                  Look, I don't think any of us posts with malicious intentions. Why would we? It happens that I don't take internet very seriously, but that doesn't mean I'm trying to belittle anyone. I hold my chopsticks close to the end, she holds her chopsticks in the middle. We all have differences and personal preferences.

                                                  With that said - I think we're getting wildly off-topic. I didn't mean to start the debate on whether certain Asians double-dip or not - and I think most everything that needed to be said has been said :)

                                          2. re: susancinsf

                                            Re: chopstick etiquette, my understanding was that one was not supposed to put the chopsticks in contact with your mouth if/since one was taking food from a shared dish. You use the chopsticks to pick up and hold the food and take the food to your mouth.

                                            According to one website re: Chinese culture and chopsticks etiquette:

                                            "Do not lick or touch your lip with the chopsticks while eating, because most of the time you will be eating a "family style" meal. This means that everyone will be eating from the same bowl." (http://www.culture-4-travel.com/chops...

                                            )

                                            And from the same website, on Vietnamese culture:

                                            "The chopsticks should not touch your lips, teeth, or tongue since it might also be used to pick food off a dish that everyone shares. Onto the next point, do not let the end of your chopsticks that you use to pick up food cross with another person's." (http://www.culture-4-travel.com/vietn...

                                            )

                                            And this, from another website (http://www.worldfoodieguide.com/index...

                                            )

                                            "When transferring food from the shared dishes to your personal bowl, use the spoon or chopsticks for general use provided with each dish. Many Chinese people use spoons for serving, so it’s really common and you make less mess this way. It’s frowned upon to suck or lick your chopsticks, then help yourself to more food from the shared dishes. This is unhygienic and will put fellow diners off their food. Chinese people are really particular about food hygiene."

                                            Re: Susan's point re: using both ends of the chopsticks for different purposes, from the same website:

                                            "Some Vietnamese people believe in an ancient superstition that if you hold the chopsticks halfway down it is an omen of a family death. Nonetheless, nowadays you can hold your chopsticks halfway because it allows the chopsticks to have multiple uses. The blunt end of the chopsticks can be use to pick up food and place it into the individual's bowl, while the tapering end can be used for putting food into the mouth."

                                            And from another website re: Japanese chopstick etiquette (http://www.justhungry.com/your-guide-...

                                            )

                                            "Do not take food from a communal plate with your own chopsticks.
                                            If you are served family-style, don’t use your own chopsticks if at all possible to pick up food directly from it. This is considered to be unsanitary. You should use the supplied serving utensils. If there are no serving utensils though, you should turn your chopsticks the other way and use the fat or unused ends to pick up the food. (Though I don’t know about the sanitary-ness of touching the used business end of the chopsticks in your grubby hands…)"

                                            I can't vouch that my understanding is correct or that these are definitive sources, but they are consistent with my experiences. Based on these sources, from different websites, I don't think we can say or even imply that Chinese or other Far East Asian people must be fine with double-dipping because they are fine with doing similar with their chopsticks.

                                            1. re: iyc_nyc

                                              I'm glad you are still participating in the discussion :)

                                              Bottom line, we're not discussing formal manners, and at informal meals, people tend to do things differently.

                                              I would rather not have the mods lock the thread for being so off-topic though - perhaps we can discuss chopstick etiquette on another thread?

                                              I'll confess, I didn't even grow up using chopsticks, and to this day I don't like to use them. I'm a terrible, terrible Asian.

                                              1. re: uwsister

                                                You're right, I succumbed and re-engaged re: chopsticks b/c I was curious given my own experience. I thought this was about propriety/manners so sorry I misinterpreted.

                                                I don't think this is off topic -- can't remember who brought up the chopsticks analogy but it seems entirely relevant to me as it adds context to the discussion.

                                                Also, I appreciate your conciliatory tone -- really!

                                                (BTW, I also emailed my sis and brother in law who are China experts who have lived there for many years and will let you know if I hear back).

                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                  Hey, I'm all about peace and love :) And food, of course.
                                                  As a kid it always made me sad when other kids would take their toys and leave ;)

                                                  My original question was whether double-dipping bothers you (general you) and if so why - the whole Asian thing was sort of a backstory. No need to apologize though - some really interesting opinions and information came out from that backstory, so I'm certainly not complaining.

                                                2. re: uwsister

                                                  if thats the definition of a terrible asian there are a billion terrible asians in india alone......

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    Oh, of course that's not the whole definition - I also suck at math.

                                          3. re: ChristinaMason

                                            This is by no means correct but I figure I would ask. My father was taught that one end of you chopsticks is for the communal bowl/plate and the other you put in your mouth. Were the Chinese having a bit of fun with the American businessman? Or is this legit?

                            4. re: alanbarnes

                              You're a bit pedantic here. In America "asian" refers to east asia, specifically to countries where the majority of the people have the mongoloid phenotype.

                              In England it refers to South Asia.

                              It's stupid, but that's the way it is. Same way "anti semetic" refers to Jew-haters,, but not Arab haters.

                              1. re: tigercrane

                                I believe "mongoloid phenotype" is a definition no longer used, no?

                                Btw, this is a reply to a post from February.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  Just checked wikipedia. Appparently the term is still used by forensic anthropologists, but "outside of forensic anthropology the term mongoloid is now often considered derogatory, and racist."

                                  No offence was intended, I'm sorry.

                        2. I have been to several kushiage (an Osaka specialty of fried things on a stick) joints where people dip it into a sauce before eating. Almost every one has had a sign prohibiting double dipping.
                          This is in Tokyo, by the way.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Tripeler

                            Yeah - Japanese are definitely more conscious of it than other East Asian countries. I've seen people do it without social consequences (for the lack of better term) though, and my relatives never seem to mind, but then again it could be because I'm family, not a stranger.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              this reminds me of the No Reservations Osaka episode where these two young guys take Bourdain to one of those joints and tell him how double dipping is just. not. done.

                              1. re: pinkprimp

                                Well, it's certainly not polite but it's not nearly as big of a faux-pas as it is in the U.S. I've had many meals in Japan where everyone used his/her own chopsticks to eat from a same pot. I don't even think there's a word for "double dipping" in Japanese (other than adopting the English term in katakana) but then again I only speak conversational Japanese so maybe someone will correct me.

                                1. re: uwsister

                                  The time I was most strongly admonished against double-dipping was in an Osaka-style Kushiage restaurant in Japan. I hadn't yet double-dipped, and I wouldn't have anyway, but I guess just being an American was enough to scare the proprietress into preemptively telling me the system. Given the Japanese aversion to conflict, she must have had her reasons based on past customers.

                            2. I think it is more about etiquette than science. I remember show de -bunking the myth that "double dipping" grows more bacteria than not. If you hug and/or kiss your guests as they arrive for dinner- you probably "contaminated" yourself more than double dipping. It is just one of those ridiculous custom things.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: sedimental

                                Here's a summary of results from a Mythbusters episode
                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBust...
                                DD added a negligible amount of bacteria compared to the quantity already present (in unsterilized dip).

                                1. re: paulj

                                  They may have proven their specific point. Salsa may not have been the best dip to use because it has a higher acid content: tomatoes and possibly vinegar and/or citrus. I am making the assumption that acid might repel some of these bacteria.

                                  What if they had done this with a dairy-based dip, let's say sour cream or yogurt? Then measure at 15 minute intervals up to several hours and see what the results are. I believe the final results would be different.

                              2. I am not sure where the mystery lies here. I dont know where their mouths/hands have been or what viruses/diseases/bacteria they may carry....and Im sure as hell not willing to find out.

                                1. No mystery here. If you bite a piece of bread or apple or chip, then dip it again, you're putting your saliva in the dip for others to eat. And yes, this bothers me. It's not necessary to eat this way and is more hygienic not to do so. Unless I kiss you, I'm disgusted by the thought of your saliva in my food. It's not so much the danger of infection, which is probably miniscule, as the thought of eating a stranger's spit.

                                  With my immediate (myself, husband, two kids) family, we will occasionally mutually consent to double-dipping, but everyone has to agree. Oddly enough, no one ever says yes to dairy double dips, but salsa is often okay.

                                  As with a lot of these posts, I think people mistake other's squeamishness for fear of infection when it's really more about the gross-out factor. It's not always rational--I know of no one who has gotten sick from a lot of the things that gross me out--but it's still valid. Food is supposed to be enjoyable, so why hinder it?

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: Isolda

                                    Even if you know someone / kiss them, that's kind of different too from putting that same saliva in food, where it can break things down, make stuff separate etc.

                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                      Reminds me of the old "Pre-Chew Charlie's" sketch from SNL.

                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        What, are you trying to wreck my immediate-family-only salsa double-dip parties?

                                        1. re: uwsister

                                          Which leads me to ask what I have always wondered do vegetarians/vegans " (enter what you think is appropriate.)"

                                          1. re: Quine

                                            Ha, ha, ha... I think we're treading a thin line there. Things are getting a little hairy. Technically they're not swallowing meat, are they?
                                            (I better stop before Chowhound police steps in.)

                                            1. re: uwsister

                                              "Things are getting a little hairy."

                                              not as hairy as it would have been in the 70's

                                                1. re: uwsister

                                                  you failed.
                                                  luckily i wasn't trying,a s i would not have succeeded

                                                2. re: thew

                                                  I just lost my Chianti out my nose....

                                                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                    Isn't a strange place to keep Chianti?

                                                    1. re: Quine

                                                      Especially one this good. My poor pajamas were stained beyond saving, but it was sort of worth it to get such a good chuckle.

                                                3. re: uwsister

                                                  But surely an animal product, which butter and milk are, right? (wide-eyed innocent look)

                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                    True. I suppose it could be problematic for vegans.
                                                    (same look)

                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                Actually when ya swap spit, it starts to break down and make all that separate etc, right then in your mouth. Even more efficient. I am not sure what you think someone else saliva breaks things down , make all that separate stuff etc that your own saliva doesn't do. Saliva compromised? Oh I can see that now as the new "in" food allergy, thingie. Sorry, I can't eat that I am saliva disadvantaged?

                                              2. re: Isolda

                                                No, it's not a mystery -but like you said in your post, I didn't know if it was because people really believed that there was a scientific basis to it or if it was a simple matter of etiquette/gross-out factor. Former or latter, I don't think it's any less valid to be bothered by it, BTW. I certainly have my share of germaphobic pet-peeves (I won't open public restroom door without a paper towel, etc.)

                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                  "If you bite a piece of bread or apple or chip, then dip it again, you're putting your saliva in the dip for others to eat."

                                                  No you're not, that's why you reverse the food in your grip.

                                                2. doesn't bother me at all.

                                                  1. If George Costanza calls someone out-it can't be good.

                                                    14 Replies
                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        I believe it was a gran parent of girl that George was trying to sleep with.

                                                        1. re: reatard

                                                          "I'm the boyfriend"

                                                          and he needed the death certificate for the bereavement fare!

                                                          I think that Seinfeld ep actually put double dipping into the national vocabulary!

                                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                                            Double dipping, re-gifting, there are a number of terms that I had never heard of before Seinfeld.

                                                      2. re: monku

                                                        lol couldnt agree more!

                                                        though it doesnt bother me that much, what doesnt kill you makes you stronger right?

                                                        1. re: monku

                                                          He was the one that double-dipped, if I remember correctly.

                                                          1. re: nsenada

                                                            You are correct. George got caught by the girlfriend's brother.

                                                            Maybe a little science to go with that scene from Seinfeld.
                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/30/din...

                                                            1. re: monku

                                                              "Professor Dawson and his team write that the actual risks of double dipping are “debatable” and depend on many unknowable factors."

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                Kind of like Russian Roulette when it comes down to "unknowable factors". Are you sure you know the "double dippers" are free from anything infectious?

                                                                If Costanza gets called on something...it isn't because he's cool.

                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                  yes. like russian roulette, only with a million empty chambers instead of six.

                                                                  you're more likely to get sick from touching a doorknob, getting in a taxi, sitting on a bus, riding in an elevator, etcetcetc than from double dipping

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    “The way I would put it is, before you have some dip at a party, look around and ask yourself, would I be willing to kiss everyone here? Because you don’t know who might be double dipping, and those who do are sharing their saliva with you.”

                                                                    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Quote from Professor Dawson will make me think twice and look around the room before I dip into anything.

                                                          2. re: monku

                                                            "Did you just double dip.... that chip??" "It's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!!"

                                                          3. An Asian friend told me that the incidence of Hepatitis A is higher in China because they often eat from one big plate. I don't know if it is true but she believed it. There could be other reasons. Perhaps people have not been inoculated or they are eating undercooked seafood. I'm just throwing it out there.

                                                            In Nepal, I have heard that one never eats from a plate that others have eaten off of...probably with good reason. It is considered only good for animals at that point.

                                                            Maybe we are too weird about it but it makes me squeamish. I recently had a party and this gal was a bit tipsy and loving one of the dips. She kept dipping her already bitten strawberry in over and over. I noticed everyone staring at her. That was the end of that dip and I tossed it out.

                                                            This article might be of interest too: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/30/din...

                                                            Some other stuff to think about:
                                                            A Doctor friend of mine told me to never eat from the shared bowl of peanuts (mints or whatever) in a bar or restaurant unless you have your own bowl.

                                                            I was in a fairly nice restaurant last week and the menu felt "grubby" and I wondered how often they wipe those things down.

                                                            I think if we use common sense and decent hygiene we should all be ok.

                                                            (Talk amongst yourselves.)

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: twodales

                                                              >I was in a fairly nice restaurant last week and the menu felt "grubby" and I wondered how often they wipe those things down.

                                                              Probably never. That's one of the reasons why I wash my hands between ordering and eating the bread.

                                                              Yet the idea of double-dipping doesn't bother me for some reason. Go figure.

                                                              1. re: twodales

                                                                yes, those big vats of flavored popcorns that show up at christmas time as office gifts are a wonderful way to spread a cold around the office as well. One office I worked at put a box of disposable gloves next to the popcorn. About half the people said "oh, I don't worry about those sorts of things." The other half stayed away from the popcorn so the gloves were never used. Guess which half of the office had the most colds that year.

                                                              2. Double-dipping builds up your immune system. (Doesn't "double-dipping" also refer to government workers?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: beevod

                                                                  Think I have plenty of other ways to build up my immunity!

                                                                2. I frankly haven't seen this happen much (tho I live in the US most of the time), but I do it all the time. The key is to turn whatever you dipped and put in your mouth around, so that you're basically dipping in a 'fresh' piece of ....

                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    i'm pretty sure your mouth has fewer germs on it than your hand......

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      probly. tho i do wash my hands, generally, before i touch food. anyone's food.

                                                                    2. re: linguafood

                                                                      I do the same thing. You can bet I've washed my hands before I've started diving into the appetizers.

                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        That is not the same as double dipping but perhaps not a good thing if hands are not washed.

                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                          I'll admit, I do this too in the presence of friends. At a formal party or dinner or something, I wouldn't be so bold.

                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                            Yah, I try to behave myself at formal events. Or rather - avoid them altogether '-P

                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                nope, not at all! some people seem to think it is, though.

                                                                          2. If I'm with family or friends and I know that no one else is sick, it doesn't bother me too much, although I would prefer that they not do it. In restaurants, or when eating with strangers, I find it objectionable. It's beyond inconsiderate, when one has a cold or something else communicable, to double dip (or reuse one's plate in a buffet line) and contaminate the dish for everyone else, yet some people will do it. I'm especially turned off by those chocolate fountains that became popular several years ago. Lots of double dipping and kids sticking their dirty fingers in the chocolate. Blech!

                                                                            It's easy to dismiss food safety and sanitation concerns, but people do get sick. Estimates of the number of annual cases of foodborne illness in the US range in the millions. It's difficult to get a reliable figure, since many cases aren't reported and don't result in the person seeing a doctor. Of course, one can often get away with a lax attitude toward food safety for a long time without getting sick, but there's always that one time. It has certainly happened to me--more than once.

                                                                            1. Only with family. Just as I don't share drinks w/ friends, I don't like double dipping. But, I have friends who have no problems w/ either. And, when I was in grad school, we used to get one big sundae, take a bite, pass it on until it was gone. I probably wouldn't do that now, either, but I also have far less alcohol in my system now to kill the germs.;-)

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                I'll admit, hubby and I double-dip when it's just us, but can't fathom doing so elsewhere. What's so hard about spooning a little portion of the sauce/salsa onto you plate and dipping from there?

                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                  I would hope you double dip with your hubby- if you can kiss someone you should be able to swap spit:}

                                                                              2. Asia is a huge place. Surely the Thais aren't the same as the Pakistanis and the Japanese.

                                                                                Widely in South Asia, double dipping is a huge no-no. There is this concept of jhoota---that's Urdu/Hindi, I don't know precisely what that means in English because we don't have the concept, but it is like cooties of a sort, jhoota food is polluted or dirty. Many people would never share glasses or utensils and wouldn't dream of taking a bite of something that another person had already eaten. Double-dipping would make the sauce "jhoota." I do know some people aren't that strict about it, but generally the concept is pretty strong.

                                                                                1. Bottom line for me is that in my opinion it is disgusting.

                                                                                  I do not want anyone to mix their saliva with shared food dishes.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    So jfood's not a big fan of the kava-kava ceremony? Who'da thunk it?

                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                      but i played the modern day version in college...thumper .

                                                                                  2. I personally don't care. My feeling is that the likelihood of some sort of health related issue isn't worth the hassle that people make about it. I also hate when a food item is too big to be fully dipped wtih one bite. When I absolutely must double dip, my preferred solution is to turn the food item around to where I hadn't actually eaten, hoefully that's enough of a compromise for the anti-doublers.

                                                                                    1. My DH and I double dip all the time--in the privacy of our own home, that is. In mixed company, no way. I try to think ahead of ways to avoid the dreaded dd faux pas, like using individual dipping bowls and serving things that can be eaten with a bite or two.

                                                                                      1. To me it's the greatly mysterious Ick Factor! If it Icks ya out, no reason of science, experience or myth will make it un-ickable.

                                                                                        Why some things are Ick to some and not ick to others is part of the great mystery. Bet you will see many posts here that will claim it is unhealthy, others who say it's fine, but I think the post that says it once icked me out but now that I know it is OK (won't kill me) I am fine with it will mainly be missing.
                                                                                        I think that this, like 42, is part of the "The Answer to the Great Question, of Life, the Universe and Everything"
                                                                                        So long, thanks for all the fish and your milage may vary.

                                                                                        1. Definite non-double dipper here. My kids--who are 10 and 7--know not to do it--not at home, not at someone else's home, not at a restaurant. It's unsanitary, it's rude and it totally skeeves me out!!

                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: mom22tots

                                                                                            TY. I once went to a party where a child parked herself next to a dip and went right to town on it I thankfully hadn't touched it anyway, when half-way through her mother announced that the child had been house bound with the norwalk virus until the day before.

                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                              ugggh.... At my restaurant they have crayons in kids cups for the kiddies to play with. Every time I take one of those cups off a table I cant help but wonder where those kids hands and those crayons have been.

                                                                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                Well, Joe, I can tell you where they've been, but I don't think you'd want to know.

                                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                  Oh, now I have something else to obsess about!! Never really thought about those crayons...something tells me they don't get washed too often (ever?!!)

                                                                                                  My kids won't even eat out of bowls of chips at birthday parties where kids keep grabbing, shoving in their mouths and coming back for more. I've trained them well!!

                                                                                                  1. re: mom22tots

                                                                                                    I *personally* believe children build stronger immune system when they have more contact with germs (I wish there was a better way to put it, but you get the gist.) I think there's a research that children who grow up with pets have stronger immune system - and that obsession with germs and cleanliness actually weakens children's immune system. Which reminds me, when I first moved here I noticed I'd never met so many people with different allergies and asthma - and I always thought that had something to do with the above mentioned obsession.

                                                                                                    Just to add I hope you don't take it as a personal attack - it's absolutely not and I don't mean to attack anyone with different beliefs. I certainly don't plan to encourage my kids to double-dip in public - though they will most likely grow up with a furry dog or two :)

                                                                                                    1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...
                                                                                                      reports on a European study that found that farm children had fewer asthma problems than other rural children. It may have to do with exposure to a great variety of microorganisms, maybe even some beneficial ones. But there are still a lot of questions.

                                                                                                      1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                        Well, safe there because we have a giant yellow lab and I'm sure all of us have ingested our fair share of his hair!

                                                                                                        And btw, kids are exposed to plenty of germs even without double-dipping or eating from the communal chips bowl. Water fountain at school, anyone?

                                                                                                        1. re: mom22tots

                                                                                                          You have a point. This kid at my middle school used to pee on the water fountain.

                                                                                                  2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                    Some people may be infectious 2 weeks after recovery.

                                                                                                    Norovirus infection can spread rapidly through surface contact(virus can survive up to 12 hours on a non-porous surface), person to person contact and through contaminated food.

                                                                                                    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/g...

                                                                                                2. the actual risk of transmitting illness is one issue, and the norms of a culture is a second one.

                                                                                                  1. unscientifically, i believe there is increased risk, because i am someone who seems to pick up colds from sick people just by having coffee with them or spending other non-contact time near them.

                                                                                                  whether or not there is an actual risk can be left up to researchers to determine. why should we tolerate any risk increase when the solution to eliminating risk is as simple as single dipping?

                                                                                                  2. culturally, in north america, a lot of people do not like double dipping. it is like other things factors that vary among cultures, such as how much personal space is expected in a crowded place, how much physical contact is acceptable between pople who are not lovers, or how much affection can be politely displayed in public.

                                                                                                  also, the double dipping is a unilateral act. it's not a risk that you assume for yourself alone, such as, say, eating an eclair from the garbage a la costanza. when you do it, you subject all others to the results of your actions. perhaps people are responding to that inconsideration as much as they are to the potential bacteria count.

                                                                                                  even people who tolerate double dipping probably have their limits. should we share soup spoons? it does save on the number of dishes to be washed after a meal. and naturally, families will only need one toothbrush for all members, saving clutter on that bathroom counter!

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: ta0126

                                                                                                    >culturally, in north america, a lot of people do not like double dipping.

                                                                                                    I think you can kind of tell that I'm aware of it from my OP, no? :)

                                                                                                    I'm not saying whether it should be tolerated or whether it's right or wrong, rational or irrational, etc. nor is that my question. Quite obviously it's poor etiquette to do so in North America, as I have learned from my experience as an immigrant child. Believe me, that experience scarred me enough to never to do it again in public. Childhood humiliation can be powerful like that ;)

                                                                                                    My question is whether it bothers YOU and if so, why. Since it's not solidly proven scientifically, it's not a straight-forward answer (e.g. you should wash your hands after going to bathroom and before preparing food/eating. It's proven that a large percentage of E. Coli poisoning comes from not washing hands before preparing food.) Genuine health concerns? The "ick" factor? 'Cause it's rude? Mama told you not to?

                                                                                                    I have a friend who won't double-dip with anyone, including her significant other. When I asked her why she doesn't double-dip with her S.O. with whom she obviously swaps spit, she said it was purely out of habit and she never really thought about it otherwise.

                                                                                                  2. Actually, I think the egregious error isn't that you double dipped because you didn't know it was wrong but that everyone made you feel feel so bad about it since you didn't know. As explaining why it's wrong, who can explain cultural phenomenon--in your example, why is blowing your nose loudly wrong? There's no scientific reason why it should be.

                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      The Ick Factor, it can be explained by no reason and cannot be reasoned with.

                                                                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                                                                        Yep. The somewhat irrational yet powerful "ick" factor.

                                                                                                        I'm not asking anyone to explain any cultural phenomenon - I simply wanted to know why it's a no-no to YOU.

                                                                                                        1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                          I think the Ick factor develops before we "think" about why, so sorta just becomes is. I don't have a Ick about double dipping, but if I think that dip or dish was left out under temp for too long, no way! I am like poison on work place pot lucks, folks haul stuff in, and keep in under temp then try to heat mega amounts on tiny warmer burners, er no.
                                                                                                          Food poisoning, very ick, I hate having to decide where I am going to be sick from first.

                                                                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                                                                            I've never had food poisoning in my life - but I've heard it's unpleasant.

                                                                                                            1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                              You have no idea what nasty things your body can do to you until you get it. And may you never get it.

                                                                                                              1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                bad oyster...transatlantic flight...that rest room was my privat compartment.

                                                                                                                yes very unpleasant.

                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                  bad clam for me, OMG had no idea my body could do that.
                                                                                                                  uwsister, no matter what the worst you can imagine is way nicer than such actual.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                    I'm curious, how long before you have a reaction to a bad oyster or clam or whatever? Immediately? A couple hours after? The next day?

                                                                                                                    1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                      Mine was next day, hit like a hammer at work in the AM. (bad clams at lunch day before)

                                                                                                            2. re: uwsister

                                                                                                              There are people I don't want to swap spit with. Even more, I might double dip w/ my husband, kiss him but would not eat his pre-chewed food. Why? Ick.

                                                                                                        2. I'm not creeped out by double-dipping because 1) I've kissed a lot of girls and 2) I raised two babies. Isn't there something about drooling babies that kinda makes you immune from the yuck factor? I mean, if someone is licking their potato chip and drool is dripping from it, then, yes, yuck.

                                                                                                          Also, in observing my Pakistani friends eat, while it may look like they are double-dipping, they are in fact breaking off a piece of bread with the same hand for dipping. They are quite adept at this.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                            Kissing a lot of girls (or boys) is different from eating food their saliva has broken down for you. I think that's why my double-dip tolerance is family only, and non-dairy dips/sauces. The acid in salsa and soy-vinegar dips is somewhat protective. Plus, I live in a magic house and the magic extends to the four of us who live here. The cats are exempt.

                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                              "Kissing a lot of girls (or boys) is different from eating food their saliva has broken down for you"

                                                                                                              feels better, but certainly is no different saliva/germ wise - or rather kissing is much more severe than double dipping (that sounds way dirtier than it is)

                                                                                                          2. It bothers me - even though there are specific cases where it is culturally acceptable to do so. For example, when I am at a Chinese restaurant (specifically Chinese and not Korean or Japanese), I have no qualms about using my chopsticks to pick up food from across the table. In cultural context - it is ok to do so because I am normally dining with friends or family (or workmates). However, in the same setting, I would not pick out something from the communal soup bowl with my chopsticks - I would instead take the soup (using the provided ladle) from central bowl to my very own soup bowl. I doubt any Chinese person would do otherwise. The reason I would not do the same to let's say a cheese/nacho dip (meaning I would not dip into the cheese with a half bitten nacho) is the same reason I would not leave a snot filled tissue on the table. It breaches etiquette - and shows little consideration for anyone else's feelings.

                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: cornFusion

                                                                                                              "It breaches etiquette - and shows little consideration for anyone else's feelings."

                                                                                                              I think this is the best reason--there are obviously many people who are bothered by it and it's easy enough not to do.

                                                                                                              1. re: cornFusion

                                                                                                                From what I've seen, it's pretty common and not rude in China to use your own chopsticks to pick up food from a main dish (be it meat, fish, whatever) on a communal plate to eat. I'm not sure about a formal meal. At informal meals, you are not always provided an individual plate. Perhaps you do at formal meals, I don't know much about formal plate settings in China. I actually remember my mother admonishing me when I was little, when I made a small pile of barbequed meat pieces on my rice bowl instead of picking up a piece as I ate from the communal plate. She said I was being greedy. Ha!

                                                                                                                1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                  Well, the point is not to fill your plate more so than to eat in a timely manner and allow other the same chance to get a fair amount. Think of it like dealing a deck of cards... you were dealt 4 cards where you were only supposed to have , basically, and now it's back to you and I still have to give you another card. Make sense?

                                                                                                                  Double-dipping is actually quite disgusting. Dr. Oz had done a show about germs and discussed double-dipping, party bowls, fruit platters... anywhere that hands seem to frequent most at parties. He found the germs to be severely higher, on average, in dips regardless if they were used strictly on single dips only! I stay away from all of these and if I do want to try it, I push some of the "touched" areas away and get from the "untouched" or the bottom!

                                                                                                                  1. re: FrancoD

                                                                                                                    Hey, I was a kid - what can I say?

                                                                                                                    I personally try not to dip my hands into dips, ha, ha... I'm willing to bet an average toilet seat has fewer germs than some of the dips.

                                                                                                                  2. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                    There is always a difference of course, between informal meals and formal meals. In the poorest of households, sharing from communal plates is often the norm (and I dare say this is true almost anywhere in the world). In families with more means, each member may have their own place-ware. Formal dinners (such as "State Dinners" or the fabled 32-course Chinese Wedding Banquet) are much rarer and most of us have never been to one. So I guess the "double dipping rule" is also more applicable as people have more means. As I said, the Chinese norm is sharing, and in more formal circles, etiquette calls for reversing the chopsticks and using the blunt end to pick up food from "shared dishes". Again, it is etiquette that rules - even in Chinese gatherings. I think that you are referring to "eating with friends" when you state that "it's pretty common and not rude in China to use your own chopsticks to pick up food from a main dish" - and not when you are eating with, let's say, corporate customers.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cornFusion

                                                                                                                      I was taught to flip my chopsticks when serving someone else but if I'm getting it for my own consumption, you take the piece closest to you w/out flipping where you don't touch anything else. It would be rude (and I've seen it done) to use your chopsticks to pick through to get the best piece. OTOH, in our households, we just using serving utensils. Solves the whole problem, except for the rude people who still pick through w/ their own chopsticks to get the best piece.

                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                        Totally correct, chowser - thanks for the clarification. In most environments rudeness and breach of etiquette are sufficient reason for excluding the offending person from further invitations. It's a little harsher in a business context where Clients are involved -unless you are the Client, of course (in which case the price may be increasing soon - humor intended)

                                                                                                                        1. re: cornFusion

                                                                                                                          I'll also admit double dipping/using used chopsticks is a personal thing--I love my MIL and when she picks through to get me the "best" piece of whatever with her eating side down, I'm not offended and don't worry about the germs. But, when I see my BIL pick out the best piece for himself, I am and am bothered by the germs. I also don't use the dip if he's double dipped.

                                                                                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                          I flip as well, and then wipe the gop off. My gop napkin gets pretty gross by the end of a meal. Of course, for the insanely germ-phobic, you're getting your "hand germs" on the piece you transfer to others.

                                                                                                                        3. re: cornFusion

                                                                                                                          >I think that you are referring to "eating with friends" when you state that "it's pretty common and not rude in China to use your own chopsticks to pick up food from a main dish" - and not when you are eating with, let's say, corporate customers.

                                                                                                                          Oh yeah, definitely.

                                                                                                                          This usually isn't an issue I have to worry about as I almost never eat Chinese food (except for the time I was in China, obviously) - my husband (my most frequent dining partner) downright hates it and I'm not a fan. I do eat Korean food fairly often, and when I am sharing side dishes (banchan) with everyone else like you always do, I pick up a piece from wherever it's close and convenient. It's considered pretty rude to pick through a side dish for the "best piece" and I know there's a word for it in Korean, but I can't remember what it is. I'd never seen anybody flipping chopsticks in Korea though - I think that's probably because most people hold their chopsticks close to the end. Maybe it's a Chinese thing.

                                                                                                                          1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                            I was probably stating the obvious about picking through to get the best piece for yourself. I don't think there's any culture where that's acceptable. I've never noticed how closely anyone holds the chopsticks to the end but there is an old wives tale that the closer to the bottom you hold them, the closer to home you'll get married.

                                                                                                                    2. Not the same but kind of related, when I was a girl in Argentina the standard practice for afternoon tea in a restaurant was for plates of sandwiches and cakes to be brought to the table then when the plates were removed the remaining items were counted and the table was charged for what had been eaten. Sandwiches and cakes removed were then recycled to a new table. "Te completo" always included cream-filled cakes which, along with the other items, as they traveled from table to table, got breathed on by a lot of people and could have gone unrefrigerated for hours. None of us then thought anything of this practice but today I would find it unsanitary and disgusting. Different places, different times, different customs. But then, how about the little kids at Old Country Buffet who have been known to take a bite of something from the serving spoon as they help themselves? It's a wonder we're not all dead.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                        OMG . . . you all survived?

                                                                                                                        My aunt thought my mom's kids all survived because she let us eat the azaleas. And the dirt. And the mums. We were immune to all toxins.

                                                                                                                        But seriously, now every time I handle raw meat or chicken I wear out the soap bottle.

                                                                                                                        Still not sure which approach is more effective.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                          ...and you're all not dead because your immune systems were all the stronger for not being coddled in aseptic bubbles as modern society is wont to do with hysterical folks shrieking at the top of their lungs that there were actually germs that were within 10 feet of their precious persons and, more importantly, within 100 feet of their offspring.

                                                                                                                            1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                              I still regularly eat dog hair. We call it a condiment around here.

                                                                                                                        2. Over the hols I had a party and the same person that double-dipped last year repeated her actions repeatedly in front of me again this year. I made a friendly point of saying here is a plate and a spoon to get her to scoop out a portion for herself. She ignored me and I tossed the rest when she walked away. Maybe it was the adult bevvies at work here? Not sure how to handle this in the future.

                                                                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                            If you're the host, ask her to leave. At the least, don't invite her again.

                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                              Can't do that because the party is held for a club and she is a member. Any other ideas?

                                                                                                                              1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                I would simply confront and ask het please not do that again! It will probably embarrass her but some people need to be embarrassed to change their behavior, unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                  or have a side dish with dip on it waiting for her and hand it to her when she approaches ??

                                                                                                                                  hahahaha. (yeah, that won't single her out that all!! :P)

                                                                                                                                2. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                  set out in smaller servings, and have plenty of back-up bowls available? Or, arrange for another guest to walk up and comment :P

                                                                                                                                  1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                    Either don't serve any dip foods, have the dipping "instrument" be only bite sized, or make a portion for her and say, "I knew how much you like this so I made a special serving just for you."

                                                                                                                                    Personally, I don't like dip foods at parties because they look pretty gross at the end of the night and they have to be thrown out.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      These are all good suggestions and I need to act on this somehow. Maybe I should have the Seinfeld "double-dipping" video on loop above the food table? Or maybe just a photo of George double-dipping with a "no double-dipping sign" posted somewhere near by .(Actually, not a bad idea!)

                                                                                                                                      The first time it was fresh fruit with a sauce but the second time was shrimp cut up and IN the cocktail sauce and it had a serving spoon! She was using a plastic spoon and eating right out of the bowl . She's a nice person in every other way but seems to have been raised with wolves with this one bad habit.

                                                                                                                                      To me, it's terribly inconsiderate.Thank goodness there was not much left to toss by the end.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                        Or maybe she was raised by parents from another country? My SIL said she had never thought of double dipping because that's what family and family friends did. She was mortified when she went to a party and someone screamed, "OMG, you're double dipping!" It was the first time the thought occurred to her. OTOH, she hasn't double dipped since. My husband gives me a hard time, jokingly, because I make a special effort not to have anything that someone could double dip because my BIL does it and I don't care for him or his manners.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                      Twodales - was it the same woman with the strawberries you mentioned above?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                                        The same person double-dipped fruit in a dip last year repeatedly and this year it was mexican shrimp cocktail eaten right out of the serving bowl...which had a serving spoon in the bowl and plates next to the dish.

                                                                                                                                        This is what I saw with my own eyes so what else she double-dipped, I haven't got a clue.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                        Seriously? Did you not read this thread? She wasn't "raised by wolves". Its a cultural difference.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                                                                          I didn't necessarily assume the person was raised in a different culture or country - should I have?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                                            It shouldn't matter. Whether this practice is accepted by a few or by everyone in some other culture is not relevant. It is not accepted in the culture in which I live. The idea that we must accept any sort of unpleasant or even unhealthy custom in the interest of tolerance of diversity is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                              Not accept but be understanding. The person might not have been "raised by wolves" but in a culture where it wasn't wrong. Sometimes being a friend means overlooking faults.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                An "understanding" host would ask a guest to refrain from the practice and explain that we don't do that here. A polite guest would respect the customs of the host.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                    My point was that an "understanding" host would not immediately jump to assuming the guest was "raised by wolves" as tigercrane pointed out.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                    Of course one must overlook faults in friends. This is just one of those faults that I find unhealthy, rude and that might affect the health of my other guests.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                                                  Pretty much every family is a different culture. I was raised by double dippers, and we regarded excessive germophobia as being provincial.

                                                                                                                                                  Now I agree that one shouldn't DD at a party...but I'm irked at GH1618's suggested that she should be kicked out.

                                                                                                                                                  Don't forget that the Seinfeld sketch concerned a New Yorker visting middle america.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                                                                                    Re: that Seinfeld episode: George Costanza - the New Yorker - would seem to be more likely to have the more 'sophisticated' view, and hence not double-dip; but in that episode, he's the double-dipper. The brother of the prospective girlfriend was the Mid-Westerner, and actually had the 'sophistication' to view double-dipping as gauche and unsanitary. Not weighing in on what constitutes sophisticated dining habits here, just that that episode goes against the notion that small-town America might be more culturally prone to this overly casual dining behavior.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: tigercrane

                                                                                                                                                  She was raised here in the States by American parents of distant German ancestry.

                                                                                                                                              2. Since the thread came up again, a relevant and fairly recent article from CNN International (from spring of last year) - in case some people thought that only those of us who were raised by wolves didn't flip chopsticks and double-dipped ;)

                                                                                                                                                http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/eat/do-...

                                                                                                                                                *******************

                                                                                                                                                “When I was young, my parents would only mention this issue when they caught a cold,” says Lisa Wu, a student at Shanghai International Studies University. “They'd keep a separate bowl and use a pair of new chopsticks to pick out some food for themselves. But the rest of the time, we never really thought twice about sharing.”

                                                                                                                                                Wu says that right after the SARS epidemic, there was a public debate on whether people should adapt Western ways of eating, with separate individual servings or at least the use of “public chopsticks” or gongkuai.

                                                                                                                                                Public chopsticks are chopsticks provided or general serving, like a serving spoon, and not used for eating. However, Wu says when the SARS crisis petered out, so did the chopstick discussion.

                                                                                                                                                Huang Juemin, a pediatrician at Shanghai United Family Hospital, was amused at first when asked about the topic, as she says it had just been on her mind.

                                                                                                                                                “I just had a work lunch with doctors from the local children’s hospital and I wondered about the ‘double dipping,' when my chopsticks reached the dishes,” she says.

                                                                                                                                                “As a teenager growing up in Shanghai in late 1980s I remember vividly the Hepatitis A outbreak. For a while, people challenged the custom of 'double dipping' and started using gongkuai -- public chopsticks.”

                                                                                                                                                “Yet when I moved back to Shanghai a few years ago from the United States,” she continues, “I noticed that people have started to double dip again.”

                                                                                                                                                Clearly, if people regularly got deathly ill from double-dipping chopsticks, the whole country, not to mention other Asian nations which share dishes, would be regularly convulsed with epidemics.

                                                                                                                                                And Dr. Huang says she hasn’t seen any evidence of that. “To be honest, I haven’t seen increased infectious diseases among children,” she says.

                                                                                                                                                Interestingly, several people say they worry that not using personal chopsticks to share food, in other words, not double dipping might be considered rude.

                                                                                                                                                And I’m not sure if I look rude when I reach out to grab the first serving of food to avoid other people’s germs!
                                                                                                                                                — Huang Juemin, doctor, Shanghai United Family Hospital

                                                                                                                                                “I feel people should use public chopsticks,” says Dr. Huang, “but I sometimes feel embarrassed to ask others to do so, since I don’t want to look snobbish or stuck up by friends or relatives. And I’m not sure if I look rude when I reach out to grab the first serving of food to avoid other people’s germs!”

                                                                                                                                                In online forums, many young Chinese say that when eating with friends and family, they wouldn’t make a point of using public chopsticks as that might seem condescending or too formal.

                                                                                                                                                1. Where/when possible, have two bowls (side-by-side) for each salsa or dip. Print small placards to place by each bowl, one stating 'Double-Dippers' and the other stating 'Single-Dippers'. Guests being sincere in their habits will gravitate toward the bowl that best suits their needs. And in the case of Double-Dippers, it is a non-judgmental means to underscore the notion that some guests do indeed differentiate between the two philosophies of shared public snacking....

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                    At the last departmental pot-luck "Xmas meal" in the company I last worked in, I put up cards with descriptions of what my dishes were. Fairly large type. Maybe 1 or 2 people actually read them (from my observations), and within a short while they were knocked over and shoved into the spaces between my dishes and other (undescribed) dishes.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                      In a Seinfeld episode where Jerry, Elaine, George and Puddy go to a party at Joe Mayo's apartment, Joe Mayo assigns each guest a 'job' (monitor the coats, monitor the fish tank, monitor the wet glasses on wood surfaces, etc.). I guess what is also needed is snack monitor. "Hey, the cocktail toothpicks go in _that_ receptacle". Give the monitor a special hat and a whistle...

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                      I would love to give that a try. I'd be curious what there is more of.

                                                                                                                                                    3. Obviously, health standards and customs related to such vary widely throughout the world. In Asia, Singapore may well represent the cleanest most sanitary country anywhere and elsewhere in Asia (and elsewhere in the world, including the USA) one may encounter the most unsanitary conditions imaginable...in restrooms, kitchens, etc.

                                                                                                                                                      Double-dipping, or multiple persons eating out of a common dish with his/her own chopsticks (or forks), although perhaps acceptable in some cultures, is clearly not sanitary. One does not have to be a "health nut" to be concerned about eating in such circumstances. Communicable diseases can obviously be spread in this way...from minor gastrointestinal infections to potentially life-threatening hepatitis.

                                                                                                                                                      Of course whenever we step out of doors, whether to cross the street or to fly around the world, we expose ourselves to dangers many of which we no control over. Some we do...such as avoiding foods which have been double-dipped, etc. We each have to decide what risks we're willing to accept.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I had dinner with a girlfriend last evening. We had hummus and pita as a first course. We both used previously used forks to transfer condiments to our hummus. We both survived.

                                                                                                                                                        I often make guacamole for football parties with friends and family. I suspect some people double dip (I may be one of these people sometimes). Everyone is still alive.

                                                                                                                                                        1. I can't help but ask myself ask "where has your mouth just been?" when I see someone double dipping. I see people happily let their dog or someone else's dog lick their face. Where was that dogs tongue/nose a few minutes ago? I had a cousin who never washed his hands from one week to another. The image of his filthy hand scooping up chip dip and letting it dip into the chip dip made my stomach turn. I went so far as to have a separate 'secret' bowl of dip in the kitchen for those of us who had weak stomachs. He never entered anyone else's kitchen (not a place for 'real men' to go into so all was safe.

                                                                                                                                                          1. "It's like putting your whole mouth in the dip. Next time, take one dip and end it."

                                                                                                                                                            1. What do you do when the chip in my hand breaks and falls into the dip/salsa/hummus? My hand is surely dirtier than my mouth. Do we throw away the dip?

                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                                                                When in a Mexican restaurant that offers chips and salsas for each table, I tend to break the large chips down to one-bite sizes. This way, I can dip each smaller piece, satisfying my love for lots of salsa in each bite, but avoid dipping a larger chip a second time after biting off the part that has the salsa on it. One dip per chip, but two or three chips from one larger one.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                                                                  This is what I do too. I break the chip or veggie into smaller pieces and dip each piece.

                                                                                                                                                              2. I guess I am technically a double-dipper. If the food is more than one bite, I don't think that I should have to consume the 2nd bite without the associated dip. However, I am a flipper which I think is legitimate. Though, I do often worry that someone spotted me stick the chip back in the dip but missed the flip and might get annoyed. I like the idea of a small serving on your plate or in a bowl, but most parties I have been to in which the dip issue might come up do not either 1) put utensils in the dip or 2) do not provide many bowls or plates and do a more nibble as you walk and go approach.