Thread: Fussy Eaters
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Posted to
Elaine Parrish
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Default Fussy Eaters

On Tue, 17 Jan 2006, Puester wrote:

> Elaine Parrish wrote:
> >
> > I remember when I was a kid my dad teaching me what a host is supposed to
> > say and what a guest is supposed to listen for in a restaurant setting,
> > so, that all parties were comfortable with the experience. Those "old
> > rules" were there for a reason and were so valuable. It made the
> > difference in a comfortable, pleasant evening and a very strained one.
> >
> > I don't know if people just don't know these things any more or if they
> > just don't teach their kids anything any more. When I was dating, back
> > when dirt was new, very few men of my generation knew the protocols.

> Sorry, Elaine, but I have never heards of the protocols, either.
> I do know enough to pick up clues from hy host's behavior, but please
> let us in on your father's teaching--what is a host spupposed to say and
> what does it really mean?
> gloria p

Hi Gloria,

In a perfect world <g>... The host sets all the parameters - just like
he/she would do if entertaining in his/her own home. In one's own home, a
good host would never say, "Do you want an appetizer? I wasn't having
one, but if you want one, I'll run out and get you one."
( and a good guest
would never say, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. How soon can you be
back?" <g>).

There would just be an appetizer(s) and a guest would take it
or pass. So, being out at a restaurant is no different. The idea here is
not just about the money. It's making everyone feel comfortable so that it
is an enjoyable experience. Money is a factor. Just as if he were
entertaining at home, the host has the right to set some parameters. An
invitation to dinner is not, necessarily, a blank check for the guest and
shouldn't be a blank check forced on the host. In order to strike a
comfortable balance, the host should take charge -as he would do at home.
If he wants to offer an appetizer, he should do so. If not, he should be
clear to eliminate by skipping over it.

The short version is:

A.) The good host always announces what he is going to
have and gives the guest(s) ample time to look over the menu.[the good guest
makes his/her selection based on the price of the host's choice. (back in
the 1960s when Dad was teaching me, it was acceptable to go above the
host's price choice by no more than 50 cents <g>).]

B.) The good host always orders first - always. [the good guest stays
within the guidelines of the host]

The longer version:

The host would, generally, choose a restaurant
with which he(she) is familiar (not necessary, but helpful to him(her)).

Generally, prices vary a great deal and then there are many options, such
as cocktails, appetizers, wine, dessert, and after-dinner drinks in
addition to entrees. Some upscale places don't include "basics" such as
salad or bread.

A good guest doesn't want to be extravagant, yet one doesn't want to order
a small salad and a glass of water when the host intends a more pleasant

Once seated and while waiting for the waitperson, the host would announce
whether or not he will be having a cocktail, and if so, what cocktail that
will be, and whether or not he intends on having wine with dinner.

The size of the group really determines this. With a party of 2 or 3, it
is easy to order a bottle of wine with dinner and choose something that
compliments all orders, but with a party of 8 or 10 or so, it might
easier for each to order wine by the glass or carafe or half carafe -
whatever is available - that will compliment each meal, as the group
decides - or order several different kinds.

The host might say something like [to a party of 2 or 3 or so], "I would
enjoy a cocktail before dinner. [the guest either confirms or rejects] I
thought we might order a bottle of wine with dinner, if that is
agreeable. [guest(s) confirms or rejects] [this tells the guest not to
order a glass of wine as a "cocktail"].

Drinks ordered, the good host talks about the food.

If the host wants to include an appetizer:
"I think we should start with an appetizer (he looks at guest to get a
nod or a pass).

The good host offers some suggestions:

I enjoy "A" (which happens to be an appetizer for one), but "B" (an
appetizer for two or more) is also very good. The "C" is good and so are
X,Y, and Z. (The host should have clearly defined a price range here).
Which ones sound good to you? (to one or a small group). [This is the time
for the guest(s) to speak up, honestly, about preferences.] A little
exchange and a choice is made - either for indy appetizers or one to

For larger groups, a host might suggest "a couple of appetizers for the
table" then make a couple of suggestions. [with each suggestion, each
guest "votes" with a silent nod (or no head shake) or verbally, as is
appropriate for the setting, as the host looks at him/her]. The number of
appetizers depends on the number of guests. "Friends" would probably be
more verbal and participate more, than say a business dinner with the
"big boss" as host or dinner with a group of "aquaintances" - business or

For the main course:

All the host need do is make his choice and announce it.

It is nice if he uses the "appetizer" approach so that the guest(s) can be
looking at the menu.

The host should be sure to give ample time for his guest(s) to go over the
menu - even if he needs to ask the wait person to come back. A good host
does not make conversational "small talk" during this time as the
guest(s) is(are) focusing on the menu. He should
*always* order first and then let the wait person go around the table.

This basic procedure should be followed for each phase, such as
cocktails, dessert, and after dinner drinks, etc.

It really does make for a pleasant evening. It's right up there with slow
dancing with a man that knows that the hand he has on your back is there
to give signals and guide and the arm that is holding your hand is to be a
solidly stable rudder so the woman doesn't have to guess where his feet
are going. sheesh.

In hindsight, my dad wasn't nearly as stoopid as I thought when I was a
teenager. go figure! <VBG>

Elaine, too