July 16, 2010, - 4:23 pm

Eeuuww: Which of These Bad Eating Habits Are Deal Breakers For You?

By Debbie Schlussel

Since it’s the weekend, you might go out for dinner with friends or your significant other.  And sometimes people don’t have good manners.  I feel bad for them because they probably didn’t have parents who cared enough.  And someone can still be a good person and a food slob at the same time.  Still, it’s not something I’ll suffer gladly or at all.  For me it’s an absolute deal breaker.  What’s the grossest thing someone has done during a meal or that someone has eaten?  Is it a deal breaker for you in your relationship?

badtablemanners

A guy I once dated displayed horrible manners at a restaurant during dinner.  He drooled, didn’t use his utensils correctly (or much), and used his fingers to wipe his mouth.  I’m being nice in the description.  It made me sick, and I never went out with him again.  Like I said, for me, it’s a deal breaker.  Low class.  A complete turn-off.  Eeuuww.  I thought I might have been too tough on a nice guy, but I just couldn’t take it.  Sorry, but drooling and using your fingers this way is for babies, not mature adults.  GUH-ROSS.  If you don’t have the most basic of manners, hit the road, Jack.  Does this make me a snob?  If so, then snobbery is vastly underrated, and you would do well to acquire some.  Ditto for eating and/or chewing gum with your mouth open.  There’s a certain conservative commentator who chews gum with her mouth open, and it’s disgusting.

Wall Street Journal “On Relationships” writer Elizabeth Bernstein writes about some of the biggest “couples food fights.”  And again, eeuuww.  I really don’t know how these people can be together.  Or why their parents didn’t teach them the most basic human behavior that separates us–or is supposed to–from animals.  Or why they agreed to give their real names.  For the record, I feel for these people, so I’m removing the surname of at least one of these couples.  And I think the jab at the guy who grew up on a farm is uber-snobby.  I know plenty of people who grew up on farms or other rural settings and have the highest of manners. Here are some excerpts of the food freak show.

Ben [surname redacted by DS] slurps sauces, sucks on bones, smacks his lips and licks his fingers while eating. “You want to get the chipmunk effect,” says the 48-year-old software consultant, of stuffing his cheeks full of peanuts, his favorite food.

Eating this way is a pleasure to him: He grew up with five siblings on a farm in South Carolina, where mealtimes were chaotic affairs and the sounds of loud eating were a sign of appreciation.

But how does his wife feel about it?

“I struggle to keep my nerves intact,” says Jocelyn [surname redacted by DS], 49, a communications and marketing director for a trade association that supports people with disabilities. “When he swallows, he makes a drain-flushing sound. And he can make grapes crunch.”

In the beginning of their 23-year marriage, Ms. [surname redacted by DS] tried to change her husband’s eating habits by nagging or kicking his leg under the table. Now she drinks wine to calm down, dines in another room or rushes through her own food so she can get away from his noises as quickly as possible.

And she shoots him a look: “It’s like a cartoon character, where her eyes bug out and her mouth turns down,” says Mr. [surname redacted by DS] . “You feel like the worst person ever.”

I’m with the wife on this one. Disgusting.

But each half of this couple seems to need a stay in the loony bin. If someone baked me cookies, I’d appreciate it and thank him, not concentrate on the thickness:

The nadir of the Hills’ battles? Chocolate-chip cookies. Mr. Hills prefers his flat and thin. His wife wants them cakey and thick. “There is always an argument,” says Mr. Hills, 33, a travel blogger. “It’s usually resolved by the person who made them enjoying them and the other being ticked off.” (Ms. Hills has been known to get so mad after a flat batch comes out of the oven that she’s driven to the grocer to buy store-made cookies.)

Um, why did they get married? Just asking. These people are juvenile. And this woman is waaaaay too analytical. I mean, really–the way someone eats onion soup as the way they approach life?! Puh-leeze.

Kathy Schwartz . . . [a] Seattle resident, once ended a relationship with a man because of the way he ate French onion soup. He had ordered a bowl one day at a restaurant, but found the typically stringy, melted Gruyere cheese to be a challenge. “After several attempts trying to twiddle the cheese into submission, he grabbed his knife and, samurai style, sliced through it,” says Ms. Schwartz. “It dawned on me that this was his approach to dealing with life’s challenges—to attack and pummel rather than negotiate, compromise or find another less confrontational way.” She declined further dates.

Hey, I give the guy credit for tactfully finding a way to eat the soup without being a total slob. What’s wrong with slicing through cheese?

Some of these people are just waaaaay too picky. And, then, finally, there’s this absurdity:

A few months into their relationship, as the couple became more serious, Mr. Walker came up with a possible solution: He sent her to a therapist to get over her food aversions.

The counselor had Ms. Walker make a list of the foods she refused to touch—her No. 1 offender lettuce, along with green beans, grapes and spaghetti sauce—and helped her introduce them into her diet.

Oy vey. Thank G-d I had good parents who taught me table manners and insisted upon them, who introduced me to many kinds of foods and to appreciate them. And above all, who taught me not to be this absurd and New Age-y about other people.

So, have you ever encountered people like this–who have food and table manner issues–in your life, your family, your relationships? What did you do? Was it a deal breaker?

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50 Responses

It kinda goes with pooing in a hole in the floor. Unbelievable.

As goes Israel - so goes the World on July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm

At work we have luncheons and other events where we have sit down meals. There is one guy I’ll call Sean, because that’s his name dammit, who I make it a point to never sit across from. He’s an open mouth chewer who never stops talking. If you sit across from him I guaran-damn-ty that a portion of his partially masticated meal will end up on your plate.

Richard on July 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    EEEwww And, while we are at it: I can’t stand OPEN MOUTH BREATHERS. They are so DUMB that they haven’t figured out you can (and should) breathe through your NOSE.

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on July 16, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    LOL Richard. Your post made me laugh!

    Skunky on July 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Ditto on the food talker/spitters. Another nasty thing I HATE is when people blow their nose at the table. I will say to them where ever they are, “Oh that’s real nice!”
    Go some place like the bathroom. Women love to do it at the table as much as the guys.

    samurai on July 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm

i can’t stand it when my wife — who’s not a slob with the sole exception of the following — wants to give me a quick kiss with a mouth half full of food. for me, if you’re still chewing, or have just swallowed moments ago and still have the strong aroma of whatever it was you are eating on your breath, i can’t stand even a quick peck on the lips. of course, the wife knows this disturbs me and does it deliberately just to mess with me from time to time. matter of fact, the little minx tried it last night after just swallowing a bite of shrimp… grrrrr-oooooss!

howardroark on July 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I think how you eat is as important as what you eat. Be respectful of the person you are with. Chew with your mouth closed and drink tactfully. When you’re done, put aside your glass and dish. At home, offer to clean up the table and if you’re a man, learn to clean up and do the dishes and glasses. Good etiquette goes a lot way to impressing someone and winning them over. In life, you have one chance to sell yourself. You seldom get a second one.

Make it count.

NormanF on July 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    It makes things better in the bedroom, too.

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on July 16, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I know a person who eats with his mouth open and talks with food in his mouth. Slurps all liquids. Always stands and eat while at a salad bar or serving himself. Crunches all his food. Holds his spoon, fork or knife like a club. Tips less than 5 percent. I will get a separate check so waitress knows I didn’t stiff her on a tip. I now refuse to eat with this co-worker. People will judge you on the company you hang with. It is unfair but that is the way it goes.

CaliforniaScreaming on July 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I guess I’ve been relatively lucky. I haven’t had the misfortune of eating with people who have really bad table manners. It’s the content of their conversation that drives me nuts. I have a few friends that are liberals, and I was in an ethnic restauant with a couple of them and they started speaking in a crude imitation of an Asian nationality. I felt like falling through the floor. The other dinner ‘companions’ who drive me up the wall are the know-it-alls; always an answer for everything, or they take out their Blackberrys in the middle of a conversation to find the answer to some peripheral question in the discussion.

Little Al on July 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I wonder if Debbie’s drooler was an otherwise good guy? There must have been something there if she agreed to go out with him initially, wasn’t there?

Manners can be taught, but being a decent human being can’t.

Quorum on July 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Yes, I have. Such a person is a b—h! Close-minded golem. No way to convince him/her that what they are doing is morally wrong, even if they accept that it damages a relationship.

Wayne Wagner on July 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    No friendship is BIG enough for criticism.

    My pastor tells us to keep our eyes WIDE OPEN before marriage, and HALF SHUT after!

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on July 16, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I once dated a very quiet girl. She was quiet until she got a mouth full of food, then she wouldn’t shut up. That romance lasted one date. She farted too….

#1 Vato on July 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Oy!

    Reminds me that I will be getting FOOD SPAT AT ME THIS WEEKKEND, but the person is mentally retarded.

    I try not to notice and figure it could be me but by the Grace of God! It will be a grand birthday celebration.

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on July 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

      We were placed in seats up against a wall (squished) and the waitress instantly brought us “extra” napkins.

      They know whose who! Food was everywhere :)

      As goes Israel - so goes the World on July 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I can’t stand it when people blow their nose immediately after eating — while still at the table! I’m a slow eater, so I am usually still eating my meal when they do this. Absolutely disgusting. If I have to blow my nose in the middle of the meal, I excuse myself and go to the bathroom, shut the door, and THEN blow my nose. Also, my husband had bad table manners when I married him. Fortunately, he is very trainable. Has impeccable manners now.

Lilida on July 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Now see, this is why I eat mostly by myself. I don’t talk while eating, and I make sure people with me don’t talk while I’m eating. I use napkins to wipe my mouth, I chew like an adult, and I usually always sit in like the corner end.

But I guess I’m irrelevant by immature psychonuts for doing that.

Debbie, I would be more than happy to treat you to dinner at whatever place you want. It’s on me.

Squirrel3D on July 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm

When I lived in Korea, the Koreans used to always smack their food, slurp loudly, and chew with their mouth wide open.

I had a Korean coworker visit me here in Washington and showed him around DC for a couple of days. At a restaurant, it got so embarrassing, I had to actually tell him that in America we shouldn’t chew food with our mouths wide open and smack the food.

One good thing: In Korea, it is considered extremely bad manners and disgusting to blow your nose while eating. That is something that I find disgusting also.

JM on July 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm

The nose blowers are really out there.
Now that I’m married for a while I like to wait til I’m out in the car after a nice meal out, then floss. I floss until I have done a good job and the wife is pissed at me. Hey, it’s either that or remain in pain or do it in the bathroom where somebody is taking a nasty dump.lol

samurai on July 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Cant believe this world has so many effing idiots and juvenile minded grownups. Unbelieveable.

Rex on July 16, 2010 at 11:15 pm

..Richard Nixon used to prefer to eat alone…me too.

Catfur on July 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I once sat at a table with some parents and young children. One child, sitting next to his father, repeatedly coughed without covering his mouth and the father said nothing. It was beyond disgusting.

David on July 17, 2010 at 6:35 am

For table manner or everything else, the only law that’s optimal for all parties is Jeshua’s saying, “love thy neighbor as thyself”. People living that precept will ensure whatever bits they are masticating do not end up on other’s plate because of talking or whatever reason. You don’t make your neighbor miserable by the result of your (conscious or unconscious)egoistically invasive actions.

But then … producing masticating sound, slurping or licking fingers while eating, is that invasive action? Nope, it’s just libertarian action, minding their own business, if the decibel is below humanly uncomfortable level and none of their saliva end up on your plate :-). But those manners definitely irk some, probably many. Why? Because those who can be irritated were “educated” or – more acurately – programmed a certain way about the good and evil of table manner ethic. It’s an artificially accepted table manner, imposed through social pressure, sort of political correct accepted way of behaving where everyone impose on every others. It’s the same with artificial construct where calling a Black a Negro is politically incorrect, where chopping off infidel’s head is lifted to the noble level in sharia Islamist society. Children not yet programmed with this artificial behavior engineering won’t be irritated by other’s table manner as long as it does not interfere theirs. Children are neutral or not yet judgemental on this matter, therefore they do not suffer the unhappiness of irritation.

yoah on July 17, 2010 at 7:47 am

    For table manner or everything else, the only law that’s optimal for all parties is Jeshua’s saying, “love thy neighbor as thyself”.

    yoah on July 17, 2010 at 7:47 am

    ——————————–

    Just another bit of New Testament plagiarism.

    You’ll find the original verse in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:18

    Shy Guy on July 18, 2010 at 12:27 am

I knew I wasn’t the only one that felt this way!! I cannot stand any type of eating noises! I literally have lingered in the bathroom when eating out with certain relatives. We are becoming a nation of ill mannered farm animals.

I get so much grief for drilling things like this into my daughter’s head. She is the only one on the planet that I can really influence at this point.
1. You will not slurp your soup or ice cream.
2. You will have better manners than the cows and other animals at the fair.
3. You will not chomp, pop, or otherwise thoroughly masticate your gum.
4. Napkins are not your enemy.
5. You WILL chew with your mouth CLOSED!!
6. If I can hear you eating, you are eating too damn loud!!

cirrus1701 on July 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

Training kids to have good table manners is like trying to teach a bear to dance.
Yes, it has been done, but it’s very hard.
I try to at least have them keep their elbows off the table while eating and not to reach in front of some one when they want something.
I grew up dirt poor and have better manners than many filthy rich people. So you can’t blame bad manners on economics.

Quote of the day:
I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no class.

SMG45ACP on July 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

hi D, fun post! TOO true, nice to know someone else understands this.

I prefer to eat alone as well. Pple gross me out…I cannot go somewhere nice, dress nice, pay money to watch pple eat like slobs.

My deal breakers are:

Of course the usual annoying things are: (atheists, liberals, smokers, pple who even “think” drugs are “ok” as a choice, pple)

I really should stop!

One time I went for coffee to meet someone new. He slurped and slurped and slurped. I started laughing and asked do your realize that is bad form on a date? He never spoke to me again.

Haha. It was too funny. And sure, “mean” of me to say but come on.

L on July 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm

You should see the chow hall in U.S.M.C. boot camp. They feed you garbage, to put it mildly, and everyone had maybe 10 minutes to eat. You just sucked down the chow as fast as you could. There were no table manners involved, and none of us cared, we just wanted to eat. We probably looked like savages attacking that chow.

Jarhead on July 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I know this isn’t quite on topic, but something really disgusting happened a few years ago. This lady was with her kids at a table farthest from the rest room. Her little baby’s diaper started to leak, and by the time she got up to take the baby to the rest room, crap started dripping out of the diaper. That woman had to walk all of the way through the restaurant by the people sitting and eating, all the while this baby’s diaper is dripping sh#t all of the way to the rest room. Disgusting and funny at the same time.

Jarhead on July 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm

The worst for me was a 10 year old kid at a kibbutz. She literally shoveled the food into her mouth before finishing the previous bite and like an infant, had the food shmeared all over her face. Oh yeah, it didn’t all fit so some of it was hanging out as she chewed. This was a distant relative, we couldn’t leave and we couldn’t say anything. Ewwwwwwwwwwww! Suffice it to say for that branch of the family, the Emily Post book never made it in their aliyah lift. LOL

mk750 on July 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm

This blog is now a touchy subject for me. My MS affects my jaw and mouth. It also makes repetitive motions very tiring. I barely get thru a meal some days. My husband is wonderful and understands that Emily Post, MIss Manners and Letitia Baldridge not withstanding, I just am not fit for polite society sometimes. I will never eat in public during an exacerbation again. Sometimes even drinking is a challenge. It’s still fairly minor but it’s not pretty. I can’t win for losing. If I cut everything very small, it’s too much effort to both cut and chew and if I leave things larger, I run the risk of choking. There have been times I could not manipulate utensils at all and had to resort to fingers. This from someone who typically eats fruit Euro style with knife and fork. It is one of the most depressing things this damn illness has done to me.

MK: I wasn’t referring at all to people with disabilities or conditions such as yours, which can’t be helped and are beyond your control. This is about people who CAN help it and control it, but won’t–people who willingly or wantonly have bad eating habits/table manners. That should be obvious. DS

mk750 on July 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Dude your condition is not something others should have issues with.

    samurai on July 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      Samurai, actually I’m a dudette, LOL, but thanks for your kind words. The “problem” with MS that we look normal and healthy so there’s no obvious condition to empathize with. I just look like an ill bred slob.

      If you want to have an interesting day some time, borrow a wheel chair and go out in public. Observe people how they look at you and you’ll be shocked. My standard joke is, I’m perfectly healthy, I just have MS. The thing is there’s lots of truth to that. Cholesterol and vitals are good, no arthritis, cataracts or other age related conditions. Even walking with a cane, people practically run me over and com right up on top of me. What ever happened to “excuse me” or even “coming thru” ?
      Given the amount of offense registered here, most of it justified, I don’t think people will stop to figure out why I do the same things or even care. It’s all about individual comfort levels and I have no reason to offend others in this area.

      mk750 on July 17, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Debbie, I know. I have been particularly frustrated with this the past week or so and I just wanted it out there because while this column was kinda fun in a middle school sort of way, some people may be quick to judge me as I described to Samurai because I look healthy and not disabled. There are too many people who do think that if the disabled can’t eat nicely, they should stay home. I am embarrassed by my situation. Almost every piece of clothing has stains from missing my mouth. I tend to wear black if I do go out and at home, sometimes I wear a chef jacket if I’m wearing something especially nice like for Shabbat.

    mk750 on July 18, 2010 at 5:15 am

Eating habits? The place where I went for my undergraduate and masters degrees had students from different countries. The cafeteria was very large and had many different types of food. One friend who was persuing his masters degree was from Africa and he would take the food and mash it together into one mass so that it looked like it had been in the garbage disposal unit. It did not seem to matter what he got, this is what he would do to the food. I think he told me that is how they ate their food from where he came. He was from a different country and it was a demonstration of how people ate that was not from the US. It was a different way of eating the food and I did not let it stop me from knowning him. A person is more important than how he eats.
Later on I was served traditional African food by a woman from there who was serving it for others also from there and some of it looked like what that student was eating. Some of the food did not seem that appetizing, and some of it tasted really bad, but it was a different style of food and their tastes were different. I thought it was kind of neat. It was exposure to something from another country.
An issue for me would be if a person announced what he was eating was stollen. That would reveal the character of the individual.

MH on July 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm

I am very strict with our kids’ table manners. While I can’t get them all to place their napkins on their laps, I insist that they use both their knife and fork together. None of that spearfishing the salad with a fork at our table.

At least I never see them using their index finger to push their food onto a fork, common here in Israel and seen plenty in the US.

And, yes, the kids know to put their fork and knife together on their plate when they’re done and do push the chair back into place when leaving the table.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the little lessons in life, too.

Shy Guy on July 18, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Shy Guy, I haven’t seen too much index finger use but Israelis do tend to use their knives to push food onto the fork like Europeans. I have adopted this habit and have no problem with it. Bread is also acceptable at informal meals but if you’re an observant Jew, that means a lengthy after blessing and some of us don’t eat bread at all because of health issues.

    It isn’t easy pushing salads around a plate. LOL I think some of these differences are due to differences in cuisine but fingers should be a no-no.

    mk750 on July 18, 2010 at 5:22 am

So how are people supposed to eat ribs, wings, corn on the cob, cracking open crabs and lobsters,… There are just some foods that you need to use your fingers. But with wings, you only need one hand to eat the wings because you need the other one semi-clean so that you can hold and drink your beer. Yeah, it’s kinda messy but oh so satisfying.

Jarhead on July 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Agreed.

    Shy Guy on July 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Jarhead, the no fingers rule applies to things like getting your peas onto your fork. LOL. You are absolutely right about corn which is a HUGE favorite in Israel actually, ribs (lamb of course ;) ), wings and having a hand free for beer. I remember seeing people use nutcrackers for lobsters and crabs. I guess you still have to use hands to get them into the nutcracker but these and a few other things are considered finger foods. Wayward legumes rolling around the dinner plate are not.

    mk750 on July 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm

It kinda goes with pooing in a hole in the floor. Unbelievable.

As goes Israel – so goes the World on July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm

————————————————————-

In one Islamic hole and out the others

Shy Guy on July 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Just recently, at the G-20 Summit, here in Canada, Canadian tv (all major networks) showed clips of Obama (sprawled on a chair), and Obama was visibly chewing gum. He looked awful…(like some ill-mannered adolescent.) (With regard to other dining issues — I read once about a certain practice in China — not about eating dogs or cats (the cats they apparently boil alive; they claim it “tenderizes”) — about the consumption of monkey brains…(I won’t go into the details, only note that the practice seemed to me to be horrifically cruel and beyond “civilized”)…

J.S. on July 18, 2010 at 2:39 pm

We seem to be tending towards a nation of Blutos, like in Animal House, the scene right before the food fight.

Little Al on July 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Debbie, you have UNDER-STATED the problem! Fifteen years into our marriage, my soon-to-be-ex-husband took to eating with his mouth open. No amount of begging, pleading, cajoling did any good. I finally decided it was a hostile act and, combined with other not-so-passive aggressive actions, got out.

I have some advice for others who live with a slob. If they don’t respect you enough to knock off the behavior, kick them to the curb.

Mary on July 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

My ex-husband had ADD and even though I chewed with my mouth closed, he wouldn’t eat with me because he could hear the chewing. A little too much OCD is not too good. Just wanted to give the flip side.

Zsuzsi on July 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm

My boyfriend (potential fiance)typically has good table manners. He says grace, he puts his napkin on his lap and uses it appropriately, he knows how to use utensils and does so quite often, he does not chew with his mouth open. Here is the gross-out part: He uses his fingers only to eat all types of meat, not just fried chicken or ribs.

My first encounter with his primate style of eating was when we were in a nice steakhouse with a group of people. He insisted on using his fingers, dripping and gooey, and then periodically licking them, to eat his steak. Embarrassed and appalled, and tried to quietly encourage him to use his utensils. He smiled and continued on, apparently not understanding what I was implying. I was horrified.

During a less significant hand meat-eating episode at home, I asked jokingly if he’d like to use his fork. My question was met with a defensive response that he wants to “enjoy” his food, and otherwise it is putting metal in his mouth. Hmm, my guess is he will not be willing to change these offensive habits, even in public!

Another time I was caught off guard by his table manners in public was with an antipasto salad. Indeed, the waitress only gave us one small fork to serve the salad, but rather than asking for larger serving utensils, he used the small fork with one hand and palmed the rest of the salad to serve me and then himself. Seriously?

If anyone would like to give their two-cents on whether or not I should be able to look past this for an otherwise good guy, or if I am in the right to be concerned for my social future with him, I am open to hearing it all.

TB on July 21, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Really? How pretentious could all of you be? Yes, it is great if people learned their manners, but who are we to judge? Our only job is to pass along good manners for our children in the future not criticize people. It doesn’t make sense to end a relationship because of something as quite trivial at best. Yes, as much as I would love to say that manners is a huge part of our society today, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Young people putting their most intimate details as a status on Facebook…isn’t that morally unacceptable? Worse than just missing a few manners.

Miley on November 17, 2010 at 1:30 am

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