"Eeehhew!" That was the expressed opinion my four year old son gave of the meal on his plate. His little brother was sitting adjacent in a high chair, dressed only in a diaper, eating finger food. The toddler in the high chair, whose vocabulary, at that point, consisted of exactly six or so single syllables suddenly raised himself up, sqinched up his little nose and lips and gave a loud and most expressive "eeehhew". It was his Gettysburg Address given from the high chair pulpit. Monkey see, monkey do; he grinned for approval from his older brother. You would think, I was serving them maggots. They had just announced to me the culture of bad manners had invaded my family. I cleverly told the 4 year old, if he "eeehhew'd" my food again, he could just prepare dinner the next night himself. PB&J was served the next evening. What was I thinking? We lavished praise on his effort and demonstrated thankfulness for the meal.
I wasn't a big fan of my Mother's cooking (which may be why I started cooking pretty young), but if I'd "eeehhew'd" a meal, I'd have been a greasy spot on the sidewalk. It simply was unacceptable behavior and I was made to understand, I would deeply offend whoever prepared, offered or hosted my meal if I criticized their offering. "Eat what is put before you and be thankful." That was all there was to it.
At 12, I was put to the test. My school chum and I where passionate Beatle fans. She lived within walking distance and we spent afternoons listening to those little 45's and swooning over the Fab Four. I'd noticed things where different at her house. It was a big family and her disabled father was unable to work. One day, they invited me to stay for dinner. I'd heard jokes about Spam but never remotely considered the possibility that I'd ever find it on a plate in front of me. All that training about table manners kicked in. I knew what to do as it dawned on me, this is what her family could afford and they are willing to share it with me. I realized she was taking a risk inviting me to dinner and might be embarrassed and I did not
want her to feel badly. That is the essence of good manners; consideration of the other fellow. It really wasn't that
bad; it's more the stigma.
Nothing illustrates my pet peeve better than the "reality" show with Hugh Hefner and his three live-in Playmates. I found it channel surfing and am reluctant to admit it caught my attention, but not for the obvious reason. Hugh and the trio where guests in an ultra luxurious private home in Aspen and being served a lavish, over-the-top meal. It was all about excess, everything from lobster to lamb. Now, I can't judge these women for how they make a living, but when one of them interrupted the meal with a "eeehhew" and asked for something "normal, like macaroni and cheese. Does anybody really eat this stuff
?", I was outraged. The hostess (a former Hefner girlfriend) stayed cool and summoned the surprised chef who hastily retreated to whip up "normal" food for the centerfold. She revealed way more about herself than any nude photo could. I can forgive tacky and trashy, but insult and embarrass the hosts and chef, unforgivable. I cringed at the faux pas but that's probably what the producers had in mind. Shock value.
I've listened to "I can't eat this because....." of a variety of health restriction and dietary prejudices. Well, you came to the wrong house if you're at mine. I'm not going back in the kitchen and whip up something "normal" or change the menu because you're on Lipitor. Eat or don't what's put before you and be thankful. Be thankful
, that's the point. The focus is wrong, if you can't eat what's put before you.
Are the days of "Good manners will take you a long way
I think, I just heard somebody just yelled, "Food Fight