Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: siamesecat2965 on December 02, 2013, 12:49:52 PM

Title: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: siamesecat2965 on December 02, 2013, 12:49:52 PM
LW says she prefers to eat his/her dessert first, and recently came under criticism from co-workers while traveling for business beacuse of this. LW also says they only do this when its feasible to order dessert and meal together, and never at dinner parties when the meal is served "in order", and that they don't get why its such a problem.  Now, LW didn't mention whether or not having dessert, then the meal held up CWs, esp if they didn't order dessert, but as long as that's not the case, I don't see any problem with it either.

http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/

I didn't care much for DA's response; mainly her comment about empty calories being consumed. I think that was an "interesting assumption" on her part.And also that if they are being critical, then perhaps it makes them uncomfortable.

I know me personally, if someone i worked with did that, I might find it a bit odd, but wouldn't criticize. Since to me, it really doesn't matter what you eat first.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 02, 2013, 12:53:11 PM
I think her co-workers should mind their own business.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Pen^2 on December 02, 2013, 12:56:43 PM
I feel the same way, siamesecat2965. Unless LW is inconveniencing others by holding up the food or something, then it's nothing more than an idiosyncrasy. Certainly not rude. As for calories, LW is an adult. What an adult consumes is the business of themselves and their doctor.

To be honest, I always love seeing desserts when dining before I'm due to order one, so I can tell what looks nice. Everything sounds nice on the menu, but when you see the meals, it can make a difference. Sometimes one will look fantastic and I'll think, "Oh, I wish I'd seen that earlier, and I would have ordered the same." So I'd actually be happy to sit with someone who orders their dessert first for this reason.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: bloo on December 02, 2013, 12:57:13 PM
I agree, OP and probably wouldn't comment either except to exclaim 'How different!' and then promptly think about something else.

I wonder if it's possible that those particular diners are annoyed because the sharing of courses has some kind of meaning. For example, maybe they would have liked dessert but since someone already ate, they'll just pass since they wouldn't want to hold things up. I'm trying to imagine myself as a flak-giving fellow diner and maybe that's what I'd be thinking.

I'm kind of grasping at straws here because I can't understand the flak.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: NyaChan on December 02, 2013, 01:02:01 PM
I think if someone did that, I would probably feel slightly…something.  Not uncomfortable because that is too strong a word, but perhaps a niggling of something?  It would only be because I'd feel a bit of the communal experience of the shared meal is lost or perhaps the niceness of it.  Like the sit down dinner at a restaurant with a group became more like eating a la carte in the cafeteria.  However, it would be so small a thought that I don't think it would register for more than a second and it definitely isn't something that a fellow diner should comment on without some extra reason - a plan to order a larger group dessert or go somewhere else afterwards for coffee and dessert for example.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: nayberry on December 02, 2013, 01:04:26 PM
i think its a fab idea :)  have to admit i'm very tempted to try it :)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: miranova on December 02, 2013, 01:05:16 PM
I agree that I would find it odd, but not really make a big deal out of it.  I might make a joke of it if it was someone I was close to.  However, this is not something I would actually do at a work function.  I really don't think drawing attention to yourself for something odd is a good idea professionally.  Not rude, just not wise.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Outdoor Girl on December 02, 2013, 01:06:35 PM
I'd probably be thinking, 'dingdangity, I wish I'd thought of that.'   ;D

As long as the letter writer isn't inconveniencing her fellow diners, she's fine to order dessert and eat it first.  Sure, I might think it was a little strange but to each their own and being an adult means you can eat dessert first, if you want to.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Redwing on December 02, 2013, 01:07:32 PM
I saw this today and was thinking of posting it here.  I don't think how he eats his meal is anyone's business.  And Abby got it wrong.  It was not rude.  He never said it made his companions uncomfortable.  He merely said they criticized him for doing so.  I was out for breakfast with my daughter and son-in-law once and my son-in-law ordered a piece of the coconut cream pie he was admiring to eat with his breakfast.  I can't remember if he ate it first or not.  I didn't criticize him, nor did I think he was rude.  We teased him about his sweet tooth, but that was all.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: EllenS on December 02, 2013, 01:11:22 PM
I disagree with Dear Abby that this was rude.  However, I think it would be ill-advised in a work setting.

It does imply a certain childishness, especially when LW goes on to explain that he/she does so in order to compensate/rebel against their upbringing.

It would make me wonder about my co-worker (or subordinate's) maturity level.  We all do some kind of theraputic "acting out" from time to time, but I don't think work is an appropriate place to bring that up.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 02, 2013, 01:14:15 PM
My guess is that maybe it makes the coworkers have difficulty enjoying their "savory" good with "sweet" food being consumed right next to them.  Those caramelized carrots are pretty good, until you see somebody eating chocolate ice cream with a brownie next to you, you know?  That's my guess as to why it disturbs the coworkers.

But honestly, it's a business trip.  She doesn't really have any choice about being there.  In that case, I don't think it's appropriate to force her to eat her meal in a certain order or to complain about how she eats.  She doesn't have any other options.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: ITSJUSTME on December 02, 2013, 01:15:37 PM
Sorry but I think DA is forgetting the etiquette rule that says it's rude to comment on what others are eating.  It did not only apply to comments like "ew you're eating THAT???"
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: cwm on December 02, 2013, 01:20:05 PM
Sorry but I think DA is forgetting the etiquette rule that says it's rude to comment on what others are eating.  It did not only apply to comments like "ew you're eating THAT???"

I agree with this. What will the LW's co-workers gain from commenting on someone else's food? What will LW gain from explaining to them?

I think the best answer that LW could give is, "It's how I prefer to eat my meals." No further explanation needed. And if people keep commenting, "I don't comment on other people's food preferences. Please give me the same courtesy."
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Margo on December 02, 2013, 01:22:08 PM
Interesting. I think Abby was wrong, and quite unnecessarily rude and judgmental in her comments about calories, which makes me want to wholeheartedly disagree with her :-) BUT - polite behaviour is, in part, about making not making other people uncomfortable, and I can understand that LW dining companions might feel uncomfortable, if they are shy or self conscious, and felt that LW's behaviour drew attention to them.  It's not quite like being at the table with the person who is inappropriately  loud or obnoxious to the waiter, because there is nothing inherently rude about eating the meal back to front, but I think it could create a similar feeling of embarrassment / discomfort to fellow diners.

Of course, it's rude of the coworkers to criticise, either way.

The only time I think it would be rude would be if eveyone else wanted a quick snack, and LW is going to 2 full courses,but it doesn't sound as tho that is the case.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: SamiHami on December 02, 2013, 01:22:43 PM
The LW is (presumably) an adult. I think she can eat whatever she likes. Eating dessert first is different, and that is probably what bothered her coworkers. Some people have trouble with anything that is not ordinary. It's not like she was kicking puppies; she was just making her own choices about what food to put into her body. It harms no one and she wasn't telling anyone else what they should do.

The only thing I (mildly) object to was her explaining herself. All she should have said is "I prefer to have my meals in this order." or something similar.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: SamiHami on December 02, 2013, 01:26:07 PM
Interesting. I think Abby was wrong, and quite unnecessarily rude and judgmental in her comments about calories, which makes me want to wholeheartedly disagree with her :-) BUT - polite behaviour is, in part, about making not making other people uncomfortable, and I can understand that LW dining companions might feel uncomfortable, if they are shy or self conscious, and felt that LW's behaviour drew attention to them.  It's not quite like being at the table with the person who is inappropriately  loud or obnoxious to the waiter, because there is nothing inherently rude about eating the meal back to front, but I think it could create a similar feeling of embarrassment / discomfort to fellow diners.
Of course, it's rude of the coworkers to criticise, either way.

The only time I think it would be rude would be if eveyone else wanted a quick snack, and LW is going to 2 full courses,but it doesn't sound as tho that is the case.

RE: the bolded...how would it create embarrassment to fellow diners? I doubt than anyone really cares what some stranger is eating. She wasn't being loud or going out of her way to make an issue of her choices. I agree with what you posted about not making other people uncomfortable. But I think it was her companions who committed the faux pas, not her. They apparently made her uncomfortable and that was simply rude.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: shhh its me on December 02, 2013, 01:27:47 PM
  I guess LW could be rude if everyone has to wait while he/she consumes a second course while everyone else is having one course(even if it comes with the meal you still need to eat it) and/or if it's a shared bill and LW is the only one eating desert.  Also if they are all eating dessert it could make them fell rushed if they are waiting to order dessert until LW finishes his/her meal. 

I Don't think its rude exactly but being quirky at work isn't normally the best idea.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: 123sandy on December 02, 2013, 01:30:45 PM
I admit to taking my kids out for ice cream before dinner on occasion, it's fun to do once in a while!
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: QueenfaninCA on December 02, 2013, 01:40:37 PM
I'm wondering if the co-workers are annoyed because he actually is holding them up. My experience with business trips is that we often don't have a lot of time for meals, so no appetizers or desserts are ordered. And if his dessert comes out with the other entrees, they are probably done by the time he gets his entree. I would be annoyed too, if I have to wait for someone every single meal because they eat one more course than everyone else.

I also agree with others that this is a childish rebelliousness that's better not shared in the workplace.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: mmswm on December 02, 2013, 01:41:20 PM
One of my sisters has a close friend that does this.  Actually, it's a family tradition when they go out to eat.  The friend's father has done this all of the friend's life.  His reasoning is that restaurant portions are generally so large and the temptation to eat all of it is high, that by the time dessert rolls around in the traditional order, everybody is too full to enjoy dessert.  So, when they go out, they order a reasonably sized dessert first, then their meals.  If there's leftover food, they take it home.

Anyway, I agree that DA was quite judgmental.  LW is an adult and can choose to eat in whatever order she wants.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 02, 2013, 01:48:21 PM
I'm going to go against the majority and agree with DA. It's a business trip. And my cardinal rule of business trips with go workers is "go along to get along".

While I do agree the co-workers caused greater angst by mentioning the unconventional eating style, I think by flaunting conventional eating during a business dinner invites others to comment. When your dining out with family and friend's indulge your eccentricities. But as someone who has spent many a days locked in a conference room with co-workers to only be required to spend my evening meal with them, I'd much rather everyone try to aim for the mainstream. And I considere vegetarianism, Kosher, and vegan as mainstream today.

This isn't a dietary restriction, a religious restriction, or even an ethical restriction. It's a person who is still revolting against "the man" as an adult.

If everyone was ordering a main course and then a dessert, her dessert comes first and takes much less time to consume. Then the dessert course arrives and she is needing to time to finish off a 10oz steak and a baked potato. It would annoy me.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: LadyL on December 02, 2013, 01:48:48 PM

It does imply a certain childishness, especially when LW goes on to explain that he/she does so in order to compensate/rebel against their upbringing.


POD. The letter write can eat however they want, of course, and I don't think dessert before dinner is *rude.* I do think that it is ill advised because it does seem a bit childish - there is nothing wrong with eating childishly, but I wouldn't do it in a business setting. Just like I wouldn't order off the kids menu with coworkers, or order finger food like chicken wings when everyone else was ordering food you eat with utensils like steak or pasta. At home I eat with my hands or straight out of the ice cream carton all the time but I would not do it in a professional setting. You don't want to be remembered as "that person" with the weird eating habit, when the unusual habit is purely preference and not allergy or health related.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: nutraxfornerves on December 02, 2013, 01:56:52 PM
I can see one possible inconvenience. In a lot of restaurants, servers wait until everyone is finished before clearing away the main course & asking if someone wants dessert. So the dining companions may be twiddling their thumbs over dirty plates while waiting for the dessert-first person to finish the main course, so they can order their own dessert or get coffee.

One solution to that would be to call over the server, remind the server about your odd preferences, and suggest the server clear the table & bring coffee & dessert for the others, "while I finish my steak."
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: katycoo on December 02, 2013, 02:10:15 PM
I think at a client business dinner/lunch she should eat in the usual order, as these meetings are all about making the client feel comfortable and sometimes the littlest things can put a prospective client off.

Otherwise - who the hell cares?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Margo on December 02, 2013, 02:10:52 PM
Interesting. I think Abby was wrong, and quite unnecessarily rude and judgmental in her comments about calories, which makes me want to wholeheartedly disagree with her :-) BUT - polite behaviour is, in part, about making not making other people uncomfortable, and I can understand that LW dining companions might feel uncomfortable, if they are shy or self conscious, and felt that LW's behaviour drew attention to them.  It's not quite like being at the table with the person who is inappropriately  loud or obnoxious to the waiter, because there is nothing inherently rude about eating the meal back to front, but I think it could create a similar feeling of embarrassment / discomfort to fellow diners.
Of course, it's rude of the coworkers to criticise, either way.

The only time I think it would be rude would be if everyone else wanted a quick snack, and LW is going to 2 full courses,but it doesn't sound as tho that is the case.

RE: the bolded...how would it create embarrassment to fellow diners? I doubt than anyone really cares what some stranger is eating. She wasn't being loud or going out of her way to make an issue of her choices. I agree with what you posted about not making other people uncomfortable. But I think it was her companions who committed the faux pas, not her. They apparently made her uncomfortable and that was simply rude.

If you're self-conscious you can be embarrassed by the person in your group who is behaving unconventionally. Knowing that no-one else really cares doesn't prevent the embarrassment  from being genuine. (By 'fellow diners' I was referring to the other people in the group, not other diners in the restaurant)

I don't think either the LW or her companions get a pass - they seem each to have made the other uncomfortable, so arguably they were all rude!
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Tea Drinker on December 02, 2013, 02:11:14 PM
As often, we have insufficient data.

If LW is eating a brownie while other people are having an appetizer--soup, egg rolls, that sort of thing--and then everyone has their entrees at about the same time, then it's eccentric but not rude. If the LW wants dessert, then appetizer, then an entree, it could delay everyone else; I wouldn't be happy about waiting for my food while watching someone else eat a dessert-type food, even if all I wanted that day was a big salad, or a bowl of soup and a sandwich.

It's possible that this is a case of LW's coworkers being rude. Not even retaliatory rudeness, which we don't approve of here, but teasing the LW when s/he has done nothing rude, only eccentric. But in Abby's shoes I would have maybe said something about not making one's dining companions wait for their food, and then said that while they shouldn't be teasing the LW about their food choices, it's probably easiest to just go along while eating with those people, and start meals at home with cake.

Because as it is, the only person I am sure is being rude here is Abby, with the assumption that LW's choices are unhealthy because of the order s/he is eating in. Food policing is rude, and would be even if we were sure that Abby's advice was appropriate to the LW's health and the menu choices. (Maybe she's advising an already-underweight person to eat less, or recommending deep-fat-fried mozzarella sticks in place of a sweet.)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: BarensMom on December 02, 2013, 02:20:17 PM
My recommendation to the LW would be to order a good-sized dessert as his/her meal.  He/she could pass it off as, "I just want dessert," not all the stuff about rebelling against his/her childhood.

Is anyone else reminded of George H.W. Bush's "I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli" statement?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Twik on December 02, 2013, 02:23:59 PM
Can you eat anything you want, in the order you want it?

Well, yes, in the sense that there is not normally a law against it. But social etiquette is quite detailed about how you eat, and ordering your courses completely differently from your fellow diners is not endorsed. For a meal with co-workers, it's like eating peas by impaling them on the point of your knife, and sticking them in your mouth. It's harmless, and may make you feel whimsical, but it is not businesslike.

I think she should try and reserve her dessert indulgences for social occasions, or better yet, when she is alone.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Coralreef on December 02, 2013, 02:40:21 PM
"Life is short, eat dessert first."  Never heard of anyone actually doing it, until now. 

I would say not rude if the meal is between friends, family or by yourself, but this is a business setting.  This is really one of the only few times when you have to adhere to a social standard when eating. Business meals have implied rules, yes they are somewhat flexible, but not so much that you make colleages or customers uncomfortable. 

As for the "empty calories" remark, the type of calories ingested should concern only the person ingesting them. 
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: padua on December 02, 2013, 02:58:41 PM
i am very guilty of this. except i order my dessert with the meal. i get to eat out so rarely, and desserts tend to be so delicious, i want to indulge. and it's hard to get a to-go box for dessert, as they tend to be kind of melty, so i order it and eat it with the meal. i genuinely enjoy switching between the main course and the dessert. and if others want to order dessert after, i'm more than willing. maybe i'll order an appetizer to continue eating with them.

the only person it's bothered is my husband, who doesn't necessarily go against convention. for everyone else i've eaten with, however, they seem to indulge this little quirk. it's a little delight for me and while i wouldn't necessarily do it in the presence of someone who is antagonized by this behavior, not doing so would decrease my enjoyment of the meal.




hmm- if i could, though, i would probably only go out to eat for desserts. i only order a main course for the conventionality of the thing.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: veryfluffy on December 02, 2013, 03:08:56 PM
I thought this comment from Abby was inane:

Quote
I'm not your mother, so I'll refrain from lecturing you about the empty calories you consume, which reduce your appetite for the healthy food you "should" be eating at mealtime.

If you are having a BLT and a hot fudge sundae, what earthly difference does it make which one you eat first?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Twik on December 02, 2013, 03:12:51 PM
Well, again to quote your mother, if you don't quite have room for both, eating dessert first means you miss out on your proteins, grains and veggies.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Katana_Geldar on December 02, 2013, 03:19:44 PM
What was also odd was she said she'd "refrain from lecturing" when she did lecture.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Teenyweeny on December 02, 2013, 04:02:31 PM
There are different rules for different types of dining situation. Everybody knows this. Only boors refuse to acknowledge it.

If I'm eating at home, I put on Netflix and feel free to eat out of the ice cream carton. If I'm in a restaurant with friends, then I will order that 3rd glass of wine. If I'm eating with my wife, we eat off each other's plates. None of these things are good ideas in a business situation.

In a business situation, you want to appear polished and professional. Eating your pudding first is neither of those things.

Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Eeep! on December 02, 2013, 06:26:57 PM
There are different rules for different types of dining situation. Everybody knows this. Only boors refuse to acknowledge it.

If I'm eating at home, I put on Netflix and feel free to eat out of the ice cream carton. If I'm in a restaurant with friends, then I will order that 3rd glass of wine. If I'm eating with my wife, we eat off each other's plates. None of these things are good ideas in a business situation.

In a business situation, you want to appear polished and professional. Eating your pudding first is neither of those things.

You can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat.  >:D
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Surianne on December 02, 2013, 08:36:54 PM
Unless she's holding them up somehow, the coworkers are being ridiculous.    It's rude to lecture someone else about their eating habits, or to comment on them at all.  If they're embarrassed by someone eating food in a slightly unconventional order, they need to grow up.

Abby's response was judgemental and bizarre.  Calories?  Really?  There's no indication that the letter-writer is unhealthy in any way.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: kitchcat on December 02, 2013, 09:34:33 PM
I read this in the paper this morning and thought LW was a Bit of an SS but not rude to eat dessert first. Their explanation that they did it because they were "forced" to eat in the normal order as a child was just really odd to me. I'd guess that a majority of people were raised this way and you don't see droves of people ordering dessert before the meal. If it was a professional dinner, I'd have a hard time taking LW seriously with the way they explained it.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Betelnut on December 02, 2013, 09:39:05 PM
I sometimes eat dessert first at a work potluck or catered lunch (brought in for training).  Those are professional situations but no one is monitoring anyone else or even notices what others are eating.  At a restaurant I wouldn't do this.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: gramma dishes on December 02, 2013, 09:41:48 PM
There are different rules for different types of dining situation. Everybody knows this. Only boors refuse to acknowledge it.

If I'm eating at home, I put on Netflix and feel free to eat out of the ice cream carton. If I'm in a restaurant with friends, then I will order that 3rd glass of wine. If I'm eating with my wife, we eat off each other's plates. None of these things are good ideas in a business situation.

In a business situation, you want to appear polished and professional. Eating your pudding first is neither of those things.

This. 

You don't look very professional if you feel you must "rebel" against your childhood eating practices while you are dining with coworkers. 

When at home, among close friends or family, then by all means indulge yourself in whatever food order you choose.  But at work it makes you look silly and immature and like you're doing it for attention.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: sammycat on December 02, 2013, 09:44:06 PM
When dining with friends or family, I don't think this would be a problem. I probably wouldn't think too much (if anything) about it in that case.

But, in a work environment, it comes across as unprofessional, attention seeking and childish, things to definitely be avoided if one wants to be taken seriously/professionally and/or get ahead.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: White Lotus on December 02, 2013, 09:51:51 PM
Often, we'll have dinner before a play or a concert and go on for dessert and brandy afterwards.  This reply is just for the person who wanted to go out for dessert only.  Yes, of course you can.  We're not the only people we see with dessert and brandy in restaurant lounges.  Enjoy!
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: EllenS on December 02, 2013, 10:27:47 PM
Often, we'll have dinner before a play or a concert and go on for dessert and brandy afterwards.  This reply is just for the person who wanted to go out for dessert only.  Yes, of course you can.  We're not the only people we see with dessert and brandy in restaurant lounges.  Enjoy!

POD.  Back when going out was recreational and did not involve monitoring small people's macronutrients, we would often go out for just coffee and dessert - it was a nice way to enjoy an upscale restaurant where we couldn't afford the entree.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: sweetonsno on December 02, 2013, 11:31:43 PM
I'm in camp "not necessarily rude, but probably a bad idea."

Others have already mentioned the reasons why more conventional behavior is a good idea in a business setting.

As for the rudeness, LW is essentially eating two courses when everyone else eats one. Even if she orders them at the same time, chances are that it will take her longer to finish eating. It's not particularly conscientious to waylay a tableful of diners who are pressed for time. (If she is finishing at the same time, I wonder whether she is able to participate fully in the conversation given the extra food she's eating.)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: katycoo on December 02, 2013, 11:35:52 PM
As for the rudeness, LW is essentially eating two courses when everyone else eats one. Even if she orders them at the same time, chances are that it will take her longer to finish eating. It's not particularly conscientious to waylay a tableful of diners who are pressed for time. (If she is finishing at the same time, I wonder whether she is able to participate fully in the conversation given the extra food she's eating.)

Well, I'm assuming that at least some people will go on to order dessert after the mains so I don't think time is an issue.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Miss Unleaded on December 03, 2013, 02:58:46 AM
As for the rudeness, LW is essentially eating two courses when everyone else eats one. Even if she orders them at the same time, chances are that it will take her longer to finish eating. It's not particularly conscientious to waylay a tableful of diners who are pressed for time. (If she is finishing at the same time, I wonder whether she is able to participate fully in the conversation given the extra food she's eating.)

Well, I'm assuming that at least some people will go on to order dessert after the mains so I don't think time is an issue.

Maybe it's different in the US, but at most restaurant meals I've enjoyed, in both business and social settings, the party did not make a decision on whether to eat dessert or not until after everyone at the table had finished their mains.  Unless the LW is ordering the dessert in place of a starter, this would almost certainly be disruptive to everyone else's dining experience.  If she received both courses at once, the rest of the table would either have to wait for her to finish her second course (the main) before asking for the dessert menu, or otherwise interrupt her meal to do it.

It would just throw off the tempo of the situation.

Also, as others have said, her behaviour and especially her explanation for it (rebelling against childhood parenting?   ??? ) make her seem childish, attention seeking and snowflakey.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: cicero on December 03, 2013, 04:54:19 AM
the LW says that it doesn't keep them from eating the meal - they just do so in a different order (It doesn't say one way or another, but i took this to understand that it *doesn't* hold everyone else up, i.e., LW eats the dessert while everyone else eats appetizers. I could be wrong, but that's what the letter sounds like).

It wouldn't bother me if someone did this - but I would think that a colleague who felt the need to share the reason (which sort of comes across as: "they didn't let me do this when i was a kid; now that i'm an adult, ain't nobody gonna tell me how to eat") was sharing a bit too much.

I do, however, find it rude that LW became "the target of criticism" - if a boss or supervisor would pull the person aside and explain that it's not appropriate in a business environment, that is one thing. but for others to comment? none of their business.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: bopper on December 03, 2013, 10:21:32 AM
The LW's culture (most culture's) has a script as to how a meal is eaten.
Appetizers, Entree, Dessert.

Sometimes I am in Europe and they have a cheese course last.  That is not in my script, so I never have any room left for the cheese. :-)

So the LW has chosen to go against the script.

The coworkers notice that the script is changed and that makes them feel uncomfortable.

They may also feel it is childish to want to eat dessert first and childish ==> unprofessional.

So the LW has to decide whether her eating dessert first is more important than how she is regarded by her team of coworkers/clients.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Belle on December 03, 2013, 11:43:29 AM
There are different rules for different types of dining situation. Everybody knows this. Only boors refuse to acknowledge it.

If I'm eating at home, I put on Netflix and feel free to eat out of the ice cream carton. If I'm in a restaurant with friends, then I will order that 3rd glass of wine. If I'm eating with my wife, we eat off each other's plates. None of these things are good ideas in a business situation.

In a business situation, you want to appear polished and professional. Eating your pudding first is neither of those things.

Agreed. Plus, I rarely eat dessert when out with business colleagues (unless we were at a meeting that included it as part of the meal). When I'm eating out with friends or family, the meal is more leisurely, so we might order dessert and coffee. With colleagues, we often want to get back to work or the hotel, so we don't eat dessert. Eating dessert first adds extra time onto the meal if people weren't planning on ordering dessert.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: StoutGirl on December 03, 2013, 12:06:49 PM
My Dad likes to joke and say that if he dies during a meal, at least he would have had the good stuff if he had dessert first.  That is how we do it in our house, eat the sweet item sometime before the meal.  At restaurants, we almost NEVER order dessert, mostly because we are too full and still have food on our plate.  I think the only exceptions are a Scandinavian restaurant near home where they have amazing pies, and Betty's Pies near Duluth if we ever go up north.

However, if there is a fabulous looking chocolate or lemon cake on display, I would certainly request it right away and eat it with my meal.  I would probably switch back and forth, eat a few bites of my entree, then a few bites of cake.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Twik on December 03, 2013, 02:17:22 PM
It's a little bit like writing to DA that you want to go to work dressed as the Easter Bunny, but people are being disapproving, and you want to be reassured it's OK.

It's certainly harmless, and it's debatable whether it could be construed as rude, but it's blatantly swimming against the corporate tide, and one must judge for oneself whether this will be acceptable in one's workplace. If people are complaining to you about it, the odds are that it's hurting you professionally.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Mikayla on December 03, 2013, 02:49:29 PM
I didn't like what Abby had to say, but the thing to remember is she is not an etiquette maven.  She's an advice columnist giving her worldview (which I find puzzling most of the time, but that's another thread).

I liked the way Nya Chan put.  I'd never say anything, but it wouldn't go undetected.  It would interrupt my biorhythmic dining flow :)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Margo on December 03, 2013, 03:03:01 PM


Sometimes I am in Europe and they have a cheese course last.  That is not in my script, so I never have any room left for the cheese. :-)

Where does the cheese course come in US dining?

(a lot of places here you have the option of the  cheese instead of dessert, unless you're going for a 4 or 5 course meal)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: EllenS on December 03, 2013, 03:17:03 PM
I've never seen a cheese "course" in US restaurants, unless you order a cheese sampler as an appetizer or dessert.
I'm sure some restaurants do it, but it is not standard.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Teenyweeny on December 03, 2013, 03:24:56 PM
Weird! In the UK you can choose a cheeseboard or pudding, (like at this restaurant http://www.loch-lomond.co.uk/dining/colquhouns-restaurant/colquhouns-dinner-menu/), or at bigger, fancier dinners you would get a pudding course then a cheese course to finish. We always do this at CHristmas, for example.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Katana_Geldar on December 03, 2013, 03:27:23 PM
DH sometimes orders the cheese selection instead of dessert, he doesn't have much if a sweet tooth.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: magicdomino on December 03, 2013, 04:59:36 PM
Some of the more expensive U.S. restaurants now offer cheese courses, but even there it is isn't something that you can count on finding.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: #borecore on December 03, 2013, 05:21:18 PM
I find this sort of thing mildly unpleasant in a professional setting, very mildly unpleasant in a less professional setting or family setting.

I am not keen on acts of "rebellion" against things that are neither oppressive nor unconscionable to begin with. Framing it as 'having fun' or 'eating what I'm in the mood for' is much more palatable to me as a fellow diner.

It does mess up the flow somewhat, unless your waitperson is very good about timing dishes and visiting your table the right number of times. It's not something I'd speak up about, but it is pretty indulgent when you don't yet know if the rest of the table is going to get multiple courses at all.

On a completely selfish level, I rarely if ever order dessert because I can't afford it monetarily or dietarily, so I get a little jealous of the person eating the delicious creamy or chocolatey thing. All on me, there, but disappointing nonetheless.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: hobish on December 03, 2013, 05:37:08 PM
Unless she's expounding on them at length I don't see why the LW's reasons for her eating habits have any bearing on the situation any more than a vegetarian's does, or someone who keeps Kosher, or someone who skips the salad course. It's really no one's business any more than those things are. Just because she put it in the letter doesn't mean she's sitting at lunch telling her coworkers, "Mommy wouldn't let me eat dessert, so now I eat it first! Nya nya nyah!” If the only thing she is doing is eating her pudding before her meat I think the coworkers need a large dose of MYOB. And plate.

Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Onyx_TKD on December 03, 2013, 05:46:08 PM
The letter said that this was done at restaurants where the writer could "order dessert at the same time as the meal." My understanding of this is that the LW receives their dessert and entree simultaneously and at the same time that everyone else receives their entrees.

In this thread, it seems that one of the major objections from posters who disapprove is that the LW is ordering an "extra course" and will either delay the group or simply eat more courses than everyone else at the table. For those that feel this way, would you consider it wrong to order an entree and a separate side item to eat at the same time? I.e. assume the LW ordered a regular entree and also ordered, e.g., a side salad or a baked potato or an order of fries that was not part of the standard entree "package." If such an item was ordered separately and served alongside the LW's main course, would you consider it an "extra course"? Does it matter if it's listed in the menu as an "appetizer" instead of a "side" (assuming it's ordered to come alongside the entree regardless)?

To me, a small extra item ordered a la carte and served alongside the entree would not be an extra course, but a side. Where that item happened to be listed on the menu is pretty irrelevant to me. I've ordered appetizers as entrees before (and dined with others who did so), and I'd think nothing of someone ordering an appetizer as a side item to their meal. I see the dessert thing basically the same way. Someone having a slice of cake or pie as a side is definitely unusual, and doing so in a business setting could be unwise. But is there any practical difference for the other diners between the person having a side of cake and having a very typical side of baked potato or salad?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: DavidH on December 03, 2013, 06:49:55 PM
On ones own, there is no reason not to order food in any order you like, but at a business dinner, it is odd at best to eat courses out of order.  There is an entire set of etiquette rules around dining out, from which utensil to use, which direction to spoon soup, etc.  Among those are timing ones dining to finish around the same time as others at the table.  It's not as simple as eat what you want, how you want, when you want.  It is definitely rude to call the person out for a mistake, but that doesn't make ignoring the etiquette rule polite.

I don't think there is a rule saying you have to order course appropriate food, but I can't decide if it's because that's obvious to most people or because you really can order from any section of the menu for any course. 

I'd vote it's not technically rude, but a really bad idea and distinctly odd.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Surianne on December 03, 2013, 06:59:23 PM
Unless she's expounding on them at length I don't see why the LW's reasons for her eating habits have any bearing on the situation any more than a vegetarian's does, or someone who keeps Kosher, or someone who skips the salad course. It's really no one's business any more than those things are. Just because she put it in the letter doesn't mean she's sitting at lunch telling her coworkers, "Mommy wouldn't let me eat dessert, so now I eat it first! Nya nya nyah!” If the only thing she is doing is eating her pudding before her meat I think the coworkers need a large dose of MYOB. And plate.

I agree.

I hate work lunches for this reason--for some reason, coworkers seem to stare at my plate far more than anyone I go out with by choice, and I get very tired of defending my eating decisions ("Yes, I did eat the salad around the onions."  "Because I don't like onions."   "Why should I eat them if I don't like them?" etc).  That's a different situation, of course, but I'm using it to illustrate why I think it's best to mind your own plate rather than someone else's. 

I don't think there's any immaturity in the letter writer choosing to eat her food in a certain order, and I think the others need to learn to mind their own business.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: miranova on December 03, 2013, 07:08:18 PM
There are different rules for different types of dining situation. Everybody knows this. Only boors refuse to acknowledge it.

If I'm eating at home, I put on Netflix and feel free to eat out of the ice cream carton. If I'm in a restaurant with friends, then I will order that 3rd glass of wine. If I'm eating with my wife, we eat off each other's plates. None of these things are good ideas in a business situation.



I have to totally agree with this.  Regardless of what posters feel they "should" be able to do or if they feel that coworkers "should" mind their own business, the reality is that in a business situation, I'm not going to risk that.  I'm not going to just assume that my coworkers will find it cute or endearing.  They may find it odd and uncomfortable, and find me unprofessional.  That's not a risk I'm going to take if I care about my career.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Twik on December 04, 2013, 03:21:43 PM
There are different rules for different types of dining situation. Everybody knows this. Only boors refuse to acknowledge it.

If I'm eating at home, I put on Netflix and feel free to eat out of the ice cream carton. If I'm in a restaurant with friends, then I will order that 3rd glass of wine. If I'm eating with my wife, we eat off each other's plates. None of these things are good ideas in a business situation.

In a business situation, you want to appear polished and professional. Eating your pudding first is neither of those things.

Very good summary.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: EllenS on December 04, 2013, 03:30:39 PM
Unless she's expounding on them at length I don't see why the LW's reasons for her eating habits have any bearing on the situation any more than a vegetarian's does, or someone who keeps Kosher, or someone who skips the salad course. It's really no one's business any more than those things are. Just because she put it in the letter doesn't mean she's sitting at lunch telling her coworkers, "Mommy wouldn't let me eat dessert, so now I eat it first! Nya nya nyah!” If the only thing she is doing is eating her pudding before her meat I think the coworkers need a large dose of MYOB. And plate.

But the LW did say she explains to her coworkers that she does it because she wasn't allowed to as a child.  That doesn't make it rude, but yes it is going to make her coworkers think "Why is this grown woman compelled to rebel against someone who isn't even here?"

I agree the coworkers are rude for commenting, and if it truly doesn't hold them up, then it is NOTB. However, saying stuff like this in a business setting makes a person look silly and childish.  In some careers that is not a problem, but in most it is.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Allyson on December 04, 2013, 04:24:24 PM
I doubt I'd notice, let alone care, if it didn't hold everybody else up. If it did, well then I'd put it in the same category as the guy who takes twice as long to eat his entree but won't leave till he's done or consider taking it 'to go'.

I think sharing one's rebellious reasons for doing so in a professional situation is perhaps not the *wisest* choice depending on how the coworkers' are together, but it really depends on how business-y it is. Some coworkers are very friendly and casual and this would be seen as funny. Others, not so much. So, I think context is important.

Seeing as how it's not at all unusual to go somewhere and *just* get dessert, I don't see why getting dessert in place of an appetizer is a big deal. If one is working in an environment where it's very important not to stand out, then I wouldn't do anything to go against the norm I suppose, but I've never been in that situation.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: EllenS on December 04, 2013, 04:36:25 PM
I think sharing one's rebellious reasons for doing so in a professional situation is perhaps not the *wisest* choice depending on how the coworkers' are together, but it really depends on how business-y it is. Some coworkers are very friendly and casual and this would be seen as funny. Others, not so much. So, I think context is important.


Very true.  And I think it is likely that LW's real problem is that she is out of tune with the context of her co-workers. 
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: shhh its me on December 04, 2013, 04:37:48 PM
The letter said that this was done at restaurants where the writer could "order dessert at the same time as the meal." My understanding of this is that the LW receives their dessert and entree simultaneously and at the same time that everyone else receives their entrees.

In this thread, it seems that one of the major objections from posters who disapprove is that the LW is ordering an "extra course" and will either delay the group or simply eat more courses than everyone else at the table. For those that feel this way, would you consider it wrong to order an entree and a separate side item to eat at the same time? I.e. assume the LW ordered a regular entree and also ordered, e.g., a side salad or a baked potato or an order of fries that was not part of the standard entree "package." If such an item was ordered separately and served alongside the LW's main course, would you consider it an "extra course"? Does it matter if it's listed in the menu as an "appetizer" instead of a "side" (assuming it's ordered to come alongside the entree regardless)?

To me, a small extra item ordered a la carte and served alongside the entree would not be an extra course, but a side. Where that item happened to be listed on the menu is pretty irrelevant to me. I've ordered appetizers as entrees before (and dined with others who did so), and I'd think nothing of someone ordering an appetizer as a side item to their meal. I see the dessert thing basically the same way. Someone having a slice of cake or pie as a side is definitely unusual, and doing so in a business setting could be unwise. But is there any practical difference for the other diners between the person having a side of cake and having a very typical side of baked potato or salad?

My thinking is ....if I order fries as a side I wont also eat whatever side came with the meal. It takes about the same time to eat a steak and baked potato as it does to eat a steak and fries, if I had fries and potato I'd still eat the same amount total amount of starch.  It would take me longer to eat a slice of cake then a steak and potato because cake would be totally separate. I'll eat the same amount of steak and potato as I would have in the previous plus cake, so it will take me longer to eat the meal with cake first.
I'm also thinking about the times I've tried to order 2 apps as a meal and the confusion that always caused, about 30% of the time one would be severed as an app course and the 2nd would come out with the entrees, 30% of the time both came out before any of the other entrees.

IF LW is correct and she's not eating longer then everyone else or its not effecting the timing of the rest of the tables entrees , then I would just privately think it was bit different but not say anything.

Now had a co worker announced "I always eat dessert first because my mother wouldn't let me do it that way."*and did so several times during a business conference* I would think she was bizarre (as a general rule didn't most of us have to have dinner before dessert the vast majority of the time) attention seeking, and would likely have a daydream about all the things my mother made me do all the time and wonder if she rebelled over any of those...does she not look both ways before crossing the street , does she never leave the house in clean underwear, only wears white after labor day;p 

IF her announcement came at because someone said "we'll all get dessert why don't you eat yours with us?" or something like it that would make me doubt if she was capable of putting her personal preferences (I would seriously consider whether it was a compulsion at this point) aside to be professional.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 04, 2013, 04:45:14 PM
Weird! In the UK you can choose a cheeseboard or pudding, (like at this restaurant http://www.loch-lomond.co.uk/dining/colquhouns-restaurant/colquhouns-dinner-menu/), or at bigger, fancier dinners you would get a pudding course then a cheese course to finish. We always do this at CHristmas, for example.

There's several restaurants that we go to here in the states that offer a cheese plate that can be ordered as a shared appetizer or as a dessert course. But a charcuterie with house cured meats and artesenal cheeses as an app or a main replacement seem to be more popular in the last 5 year.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: HappilyInsane on December 04, 2013, 06:24:19 PM
"Life is short, eat dessert first."  Never heard of anyone actually doing it, until now. 

I've always heard it as "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first." You just never know when you might drop dead between courses. Having said that, I also believe that there is a time and place for everything and a professional setting or dinner with colleagues is not the place for this. I think there was a large helping of rudeness all around in that story.


You can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat.  >:D

This gets quoted a lot around here at family meals lol.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: blarg314 on December 04, 2013, 09:56:29 PM
There is an entire set of etiquette rules around dining out, from which utensil to use, which direction to spoon soup, etc. 

I like that way of looking at it.

Eating courses in the expected order fits in with the type of etiquette that includes which utensils to use, what to do with your napkin, how to hold your fork, etc. These rules, in general, make no logical sense, and vary wildly between cultures. In casual situations there can be a general agreement to ignore some of those rules. But in more formal/public situations, you are expected to follow them, or people will look at you funny.

For example, there's no logical reason why you shouldn't eat mashed potatoes and gravy with your fingers instead of a fork. In other cultures (like India) eating messy foods without any cutlery is normal and expected, even in a public/business situation. If I'm home alone, I'm free to do so. But if I eat potatoes and gravy with my fingers with my business colleagues, and explain that I'm doing this because my mother always made me use cutlery... again, there's no *logical* reason why this is a horrible idea, but it will affect my professional reputation, and possibly chances of advancement/continuing employment. And I'll likely be eating alone from there on.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: johelenc1 on December 04, 2013, 09:59:57 PM
I think people who complain about someone eating their dessert first have too much time on their hands.  I could seriously care less if a dining companion eats their dessert first, separates all their food into little piles or has it all on separate plates.  What in the world would it have to do with me?

I thought Dear Abby was way off on this one and presumptuous to lecture him on calories as well.  Very few people actually don't eat their dessert because they have "filled up" on the "nutritious" portion of their meal.  Seriously, if you want dessert, you order it no matter what!

Although I can see how the LW comment on why she eats dessert first could be seen as immature, I guess I heard it more as a little joke (even if true).  Annoying, nosy co-workers:  Why are you eating dessert first.  That's SO stupid.  LW:  (little laugh)  I always do it like this.  My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood (little laugh and shrug of shoulders). 

If I were a (not nosy, annoying) co-worker, I would laugh too.  And then, maybe order a piece of pie.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Psychopoesie on December 04, 2013, 10:41:33 PM
I don't see the big deal about ordering dessert first, if it doesn't stuff up the timing of others' meals.

Maybe if it was a really formal occasion where you needed to mind which fork you used. Although, I'd expect courses would have a fixed order at that sort of event, anyway.

Personally don't see it on the same level as eating with fingers where the norm is with cutlery or vice versa.

I'm probably most surprised by there being so much pressure to conform that eating a meal in a different order could be seen in a negative light professionally.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: hobish on December 05, 2013, 12:44:03 AM
I have to admit, it has been years since I've done the "business lunch" thing, and when I did I was terrible at it.

Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: veryfluffy on December 05, 2013, 01:19:29 AM
Eating lunch with co-workers is also different from a "business lunch" with clients or the boss, where possibly more formal rules might apply. They were travelling together on business, and had to eat. I'm picturing this scenario when they pop to the local bistro for lunch:

Waitress: "So what can I get you all?"
Mavis: "I'll start with the carrot soup, and then a mushroom omelette, please."
Norman: "A Caesar salad, and then the salmon fischcakes."
Albert: "Clam chowder to start, and a cheeseburger, with everything."
LW: "The creme brulee -- I know that's on the dessert menu, but it's my favourite so can I have that as my starter please? Then I'll have the fishcakes as well."

What would be the big deal? That everyone else is jealous that they don't have the gumption to eat their favourite thing first?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: cicero on December 05, 2013, 01:40:01 AM
Eating lunch with co-workers is also different from a "business lunch" with clients or the boss, where possibly more formal rules might apply. They were travelling together on business, and had to eat. I'm picturing this scenario when they pop to the local bistro for lunch:

Waitress: "So what can I get you all?"
Mavis: "I'll start with the carrot soup, and then a mushroom omelette, please."
Norman: "A Caesar salad, and then the salmon fischcakes."
Albert: "Clam chowder to start, and a cheeseburger, with everything."
LW: "The creme brulee -- I know that's on the dessert menu, but it's my favourite so can I have that as my starter please? Then I'll have the fishcakes as well."

What would be the big deal? That everyone else is jealous that they don't have the gumption to eat their favourite thing first?
exactly - it's like i will often ask if they can substitute another veg or side salad for the carb that *comes with* the dish. it's a matter of preference. if they can't or won't, then they won't. not a biggie. i certainly wouldn't expect anyone to bat an eye or comment.

however, if my request came along with a huge dose of "my mom made me do this and now i'm doing that"... yeah, that would be weird.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Miss Unleaded on December 05, 2013, 03:40:26 AM
Eating lunch with co-workers is also different from a "business lunch" with clients or the boss, where possibly more formal rules might apply. They were travelling together on business, and had to eat. I'm picturing this scenario when they pop to the local bistro for lunch:

Waitress: "So what can I get you all?"
Mavis: "I'll start with the carrot soup, and then a mushroom omelette, please."
Norman: "A Caesar salad, and then the salmon fischcakes."
Albert: "Clam chowder to start, and a cheeseburger, with everything."
LW: "The creme brulee -- I know that's on the dessert menu, but it's my favourite so can I have that as my starter please? Then I'll have the fishcakes as well."

What would be the big deal? That everyone else is jealous that they don't have the gumption to eat their favourite thing first?

You're conjecturing that she did order it as a starter.  The letter doesn't make that clear.  And when I go out for an informal meal with coworkers I almost never order a starter or dessert, especially not at lunch.  Maybe that's unusual, I don't know.

Your scenario wouldn't be so bad IMO, but if it continued:

Mavis: Creme brulee: that's an unusual choice for a starter!
LW: Well my mother never let me eat dessert first.  So I do it this way now.

Yes, I would find it childish.  She should have just said it was personal preference, then bean dipped.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: MariaE on December 05, 2013, 04:25:21 AM
Eating lunch with co-workers is also different from a "business lunch" with clients or the boss, where possibly more formal rules might apply. They were travelling together on business, and had to eat. I'm picturing this scenario when they pop to the local bistro for lunch:

Waitress: "So what can I get you all?"
Mavis: "I'll start with the carrot soup, and then a mushroom omelette, please."
Norman: "A Caesar salad, and then the salmon fischcakes."
Albert: "Clam chowder to start, and a cheeseburger, with everything."
LW: "The creme brulee -- I know that's on the dessert menu, but it's my favourite so can I have that as my starter please? Then I'll have the fishcakes as well."

What would be the big deal? That everyone else is jealous that they don't have the gumption to eat their favourite thing first?

You're conjecturing that she did order it as a starter.  The letter doesn't make that clear.  And when I go out for an informal meal with coworkers I almost never order a starter or dessert, especially not at lunch.  Maybe that's unusual, I don't know.

Your scenario wouldn't be so bad IMO, but if it continued:

Mavis: Creme brulee: that's an unusual choice for a starter!
LW: Well my mother never let me eat dessert first.  So I do it this way now.

Yes, I would find it childish.  She should have just said it was personal preference, then bean dipped.

To me it would depend on whether she said it jokingly/laughingly or belligerently/petulantly. The former wouldn't even cause a blip on my radar - the latter I agree would be childish.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: cabbageweevil on December 05, 2013, 04:47:21 AM
Although I can see how the LW comment on why she eats dessert first could be seen as immature, I guess I heard it more as a little joke (even if true).  Annoying, nosy co-workers:  Why are you eating dessert first.  That's SO stupid.  LW:  (little laugh)  I always do it like this.  My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood (little laugh and shrug of shoulders). 

If I were a (not nosy, annoying) co-worker, I would laugh too.  And then, maybe order a piece of pie.

I hadn't been following the thread with full attention; have just realised that per the original information it was (if I interpret rightly) a matter of LW and colleagues -- more or less equal rank in the organisation, implied -- travelling together on business and, obviously, needing to eat.  In a context like that -- as opposed to those envisaged by some PPs, of a special formal dinner hosted by the boss, or a meal to entertain a client -- one would envisage the scene as basically informal.

I can well imagine the "rebellion against childhood rules" thing, arising from conversation as in johelenc1's scenario above. (With the proviso -- as MariaE says -- that the lady's words were indeed uttered jokingly, not belligerently / petulantly.) Taking it that her tone was a joking one -- in an essentially informal setting, I find the colleagues' making a big deal either of her eating dessert first; or of her "childhood rules" comment-in-passing; extremely petty and spiteful.  Unfortunately, people often do behave like busybodies and jerks, over astonishingly trivial issues. While I find it a "stretch", for the lady to be seen as badly jeopardising her job prospects because of anything in this situation -- as she has somehow to get along with these twerps with whom she works; it might be wise for her to modify her dining habits, so as to fit in.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Twik on December 06, 2013, 09:15:04 AM
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: bopper on December 06, 2013, 09:22:29 AM
(http://penguingeek.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/farside_02-04-07.jpg)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: CakeEater on December 07, 2013, 01:25:39 AM
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.


And what better way to find a perfect world than to support those of us who buck tradition and inspire innocent change?

I like tradition. I'm a fan of conformity. Conformity isn't a bad thing, even though it's often used as a pejorative term. We conform in all sorts of ways, which is what a lot of etiquette is about after all.

We conform to the norms of queing, otherwise we'd be seen as rude. We conform to the norms of keeping certain body parts covered in public. We conform to the norms of greeting by shaking hands, and saying certain things.

If there was no conformity at all, we wouldn't know what was going on.

Eating courses in a certain order provides structure to a social interaction. We can all agree to skip starters if none of us are very hungry, but if one person orders dessert first, then the rest might be wondering how long lunch will take now - will she want a main course as well, or is she just not hungry? Has she already eaten? They might be keeping an eye on the clock and wondering if they'll be late back to the office. Maybe it puts the waitress out of order, and she takes longer to get the meals out because she's waiting for dessert eater to finish so she can bring the mains out together.

Eating 'out of order' just adds a layer of uncertainty to the meal, because she has deviated from the known script. Now people, instead of just being able to mindlessly follow the script and interact with each other pleasantly, are focusing on the script and why dessert eater is deviating from it.

And yes, telling your work colleagues that you eat your food in a certain order is an act of rebellion against your parents seems very childish to me. And more so, because the vast majority of people had the same rules as children, and grew up to find them perfectly reasonable guidelines as adults.

I don't think it takes 'gumption' to order dessert first in a restaurant.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: camlan on December 07, 2013, 07:59:14 AM
For me, it's the aspect of bringing up unresolved childhood issues in a work/business environment. Doesn't matter if she's eating with co-workers or clients, it just seems out of place.

If I were her co-worker or boss, I'd be wondering if she could handle a client lunch suitably. If I were a client, I'd have all sorts of questions as to this person's ability to handle my job adequately.

While I would have no problems with a friend eating dessert first at a casual meal with friends, in any kind of a work setting, the child-like act of eating dessert first, with or without the explanation of "Mom never let me do this," sends all sorts of messages that are best not sent in a business relationship.

It's not professional, and it is a behavior that shouldn't appear in a professional setting.

I'm all for bucking tradition. I happen to have done a bit of that myself. But there's a time and a place for it. Work settings, unless you want to have people wondering if you are fit to do your job, are not the place.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: gramma dishes on December 07, 2013, 09:44:51 AM
For me, it's the aspect of bringing up unresolved childhood issues in a work/business environment. Doesn't matter if she's eating with co-workers or clients, it just seems out of place.

If I were her co-worker or boss, I'd be wondering if she could handle a client lunch suitably. If I were a client, I'd have all sorts of questions as to this person's ability to handle my job adequately.

While I would have no problems with a friend eating dessert first at a casual meal with friends, in any kind of a work setting, the child-like act of eating dessert first, with or without the explanation of "Mom never let me do this," sends all sorts of messages that are best not sent in a business relationship.

It's not professional, and it is a behavior that shouldn't appear in a professional setting.

I'm all for bucking tradition. I happen to have done a bit of that myself. But there's a time and a place for it. Work settings, unless you want to have people wondering if you are fit to do your job, are not the place.

I agree with Camlan's post entirely.  But I would also add that I'm sure the Dessert Lady is quite fully aware of the fact that she's causing some degree of discomfort among her colleagues.  To me, it just seems like she's doing it primarily to center attention on herself.  Someone that needy and attention seeking would not be someone I'd want working for me -- or even with me for that matter!
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: citadelle on December 07, 2013, 10:50:15 AM
I've never seen a cheese "course" in US restaurants, unless you order a cheese sampler as an appetizer or dessert.
I'm sure some restaurants do it, but it is not standard.
In Wisconsin, the cheese course is an order of fried cheese curds!  ;)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: cabbageweevil on December 07, 2013, 11:54:44 AM
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.

As I intimated in my previous post: people are often weird, and frequently in ways which -- if looked at totally objectively and rationally -- are nonsensical.  Nonetheless it does happen, and deviating from conventional behaviour can have negative consequences for the "deviator"; as with the above-cited metaphor of the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny.

Perhaps I'm going overboard to see Dessert Lady's doings in the most benign and inoffensive light possible: i.e. that it was a situation just of travelling on business with colleagues of basically equal rank, and simply eating for sustenance; and that the exchange was in fact, johelenc1's scenario of just a light, humorous throwaway comment --  Q. "Why are you eating dessert first?  That's SO stupid."  A. "I always do it like this. My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood." (little laugh and shrug of shoulders).

If things had been any other way than the aforesaid, my sympathy for Dessert Lady would be less; and I can "see with my head", the pointed-out possible practical complications of this bit of meal-type eccentricity.  However -- if it were in the above "optimum scenario for DL" -- I'd persist in feeling that what she did and said here, was in the general scheme of things, so very small and trivial; that I sympathise much more with her, than with her envisagedly equal-rank colleagues.  My sentiment is, to wonder a bit at those colleagues not having stuff bigger and more important -- and more interesting -- in their lives; than their getting so "judgy" about the order in which their companion eats her courses, at an informal meal being taken basically for the purpose of necessary nutrition.

My working life was spent in fairly lowly and behind-the-scenes jobs, where at times colleagues of mine did stuff a good deal more strange and potentially disruptive than eating their dessert first at dinner, apparently without their lives being made miserable as a consequence.  It could be that I have difficulty "getting" how things are, on work scenes of a more ambitious and career-building kind.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 07, 2013, 08:39:37 PM
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.
Snip


As I intimated in my previous post: people are often weird, and frequently in ways which -- is looked at totally objectively and rationally -- are nonsensical.  Nonetheless it does happen, and deviating from conventional behaviour can have negative consequences for the "deviator"; as with the above-cited metaphor of the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny.

Perhaps I'm going overboard to see Dessert Lady's doings in the most benign and inoffensive light possible: i.e. that it was a situation just of travelling on business with colleagues of basically equal rank, and simply eating for sustenance; and that the exchange was in fact, johelenc1's scenario of just a light, humorous throwaway comment --  Q. "Why are you eating dessert first?  That's SO stupid."  A. "I always do it like this. My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood." (little laugh and shrug of shoulders).
Snip
I think it's interesting the differences how we interpret vague descriptions. I would have never considered the conversation starting with someone calling the OP stupid for her actions based on the letter. More like

Co- worker: are you just ordering dessert?
OP: no just starting with it
co-worker: really, why?
OP: mom, and dad made me always wait as a child so now I eat dessert first
Co-worker: seriously? Every meal?
OP: yes, why?
Co-worker: well it's pretty unusual
OP: but that's what I like to eat
Co- worker: but don't you think it would be better to try and eat something with more nutritional value first in case you weren't hungry after dessert?
OP: no, and you sound like my parents.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: esposita on December 07, 2013, 09:36:54 PM
Personally, I think that bucking tradition can be really good. (It can also be disastrous and foolhardy, but I don't think that eating something sweet before eating something savory is fraught with peril.)

But that tradition can be much better "bucked" by inviting people over for a dinner party, and bringing out delightful sweet treats at the beginning of the meal and saying "I thought we should have a little fun, and start with dessert (if you'd like it)!" than by being so ... I dunno, sorta pushy (which is the vibe I get from the letter) with your personal vendeta against eating things in the normal order.

One way is gracious and quirky, the other is, as we can see from our reactions here, treading the fine line of rudeness.

Also, does anyone else think that this LW is a lucky one?! I mean, to be so angry that she had to eat dessert after her other food? As a child, I was usually bummed that we didn't have dessert every night... dessert didn't happen often enough for me to get an attitude about anything regarding it.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: magicdomino on December 09, 2013, 10:47:46 AM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: shhh its me on December 09, 2013, 11:05:06 AM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: bloo on December 09, 2013, 11:17:32 AM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?

going 'up'? Both ways?
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: m2kbug on December 09, 2013, 12:54:16 PM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?

going 'up'? Both ways?

In the snow.

Oops, snow got mentions.  ;D
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: magicdomino on December 09, 2013, 01:51:09 PM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?

going 'up'? Both ways?

In the snow.

Oops, snow got mentions.  ;D

There's always snow, even in the summer.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: EllenS on December 09, 2013, 08:33:09 PM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?


going 'up'? Both ways?

In the snow.

Oops, snow got mentions.  ;D

There's always snow, even in the summer.


Shoeless, naturally.
Title: Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
Post by: daen on December 09, 2013, 09:03:36 PM
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?


going 'up'? Both ways?

In the snow.

Oops, snow got mentions.  ;D

There's always snow, even in the summer.


Shoeless, naturally.

You could walk?
I had to lie down on my stomach and drag myself there with my lips.