Finger Licking Disgusting

Friday, 22 August 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

Every once in awhile we all seem to need a refresher course in social graces. I blame the ever increasingly casual world we live in. I remember when people used to dress up before getting on an airplane and when we spoke to each other in full sentences. Now flip flops aren’t just for the beach and I will c u ltr. But a casual world also leads to laziness. And when laziness sidles up to the dinner table it translates to downright boorishness.

Last week I caught my reflection in the kitchen window as I shoveled a heaping forkful of something-I- couldn’t-resist into my trap. Thank god I was alone because it wasn’t pretty. That’s the thing about eating; unless you’re Nigella Lawson it can be an unpleasant event to watch someone else do. So no matter how delicious your meal, if you’re not alone please resist the urge to commit the following top 5 table crimes and misdemeanours:

Finger licking – Use your napkin or a finger bowl or go wash your hands. There are a few occasions when eating with your hands is acceptable, like a sandwich, popcorn and french fries (or when you go to Ethiopia). In these cases you may be able to get away with a single digit lick, but beyond that is extremely unsightly and grating to listen to. And using your finger to mop up leftovers? Seriously? It’s akin to nose picking.

Talking with your mouth full – Please swallow before making your next point, because no one wants to see the chewed up remnants of your last bite. If the building’s burning and you really need to talk and you’re not sure if your mouth is clear, use your hand or your napkin as a mouth shield. And take advantage of the water on the table to clear food from your teeth and gums. Talking with a full mouth is common where bar snacks are served so keep that in mind before reaching for the peanuts.

Taking over-sized bites – Even if your mouth is closed, if it’s stuffed and bulging it’s almost as bad as talking with your mouth full. If you find yourself in this situation (it happens to me when I order a sushi cone) use your hand or napkin shield as per above. Taking smaller bites prevents having to stretch your mouth to unsightly dimensions then struggling to get it down. And smaller forkfuls help you know sooner that you’re full thereby avoiding overeating.

Loud eating – Some people are chronic loud eaters. I don’t know if it’s a high amount of saliva or the formation of their lips and gums or just being really excited about what’s on the menu, but it seems to happen to some people all the time. If you know one of them, please tell them.

Utensil licking – This occurs when diners are trying to scrape every last morsel off the plate; when they want to lick the plate but know they shouldn’t. So they lick the knife, back of the fork or spoon instead. Utensils are for cutting and picking up. That fork is not a popsicle and If you need more food, ask for another serving.

If you have to sit at a table with people who break these rules, the upside is that it means they’re really enjoying themselves. And if you’re unsure of your own eating habits, I would suggest having your next solo meal in front of a mirror. Or recording yourself as you inhale that burrito. Would you want to sit across from you?

Have I left anything off the list? What bad table manners make you crazy?



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  • GTA_John

    One additional etiquette item: Should you ‘clean your plate’ or should you leave a mouthful or so of food on your plate as you place your knife and fork together at a 45 degree angle to indicate you are finished?

    • Anna Wallner

      I think any chef is pleased to see an empty plate so if you’re enjoying the food, why not finish? But that doesn’t mean scraping up every last crumb…and no plate licking!

      • GTA_John

        > no plate licking!

        Oh, where’s the fun in that.

        Serous follow on: I have been told that in a number of social groups the accepted practice is to leave a mouthful or two on the plate at the end of the meal to indicate that you were fully sated by the meal while clearing your plate is an indication that you expect an additional serving. Have you experienced that?

        • Anna Wallner

          Yes, I have heard that, officially, you are correct. I will remember that if I’m ever invited to dine with the Queen!

  • Chef Mike in Burlington ON

    worse still, talking with your mouth full, so gross over the age of 7…

  • Chef Mike in Burlington ON

    …and as to the plate and 1 bite left, unless you are a personal chef like me and dining in your home, chef’s never see the plate come back, and we don’t care. In a home setting, 1 small bite is a good idea, makes mom feel good…

  • suzybel

    The one that drives me crazy (my husband does it constantly) is using your spoon to scrape every last drop off the plate. All I hear is tick, tick, tick. Even if I’m in the other room I can hear it. I’d seriously like to throttle him. Either that or I stop feeding him.