Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reader Request: What's Mine is His?

A few weeks ago, the Manners Monday series was focused on Table Etiquette and Manners as it pertains to dining in, dining out, and the sometimes uncomfortable interview over lunch.

After one particular post on table etiquette not only did I receive a few comments and some e-mails from all of you about the topic of 'food stealers' and sharing food, I also received a reader request in my inbox. I've been asked to keep her name anonymous. Our e-mail conversation is below:

Hi Karla,

At casual family dinners, my husband thinks it is okay to reach out and grab a piece of my food from my plate before he asks, and he does so with his fingers. I don't mind him having the food, but I think it is very rude to "pick" food from a person's plate then asking if it is okay that they have it after the fact.

I think if someone wants to try a portion of food from another's plate they should ask permission (even if it is a spouse) and then use a utensil, not their hands. My husband says I'm selfish and snooty for being that way. I say that is not the case. What do you think?


Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for writing in! :) A few of my readers mentioned in the comments section that their husbands do the same thing, so you are not alone. You are completely correct for feeling that it's rude of him to have taken food from your plate without asking first, especially with his fingers. This is definitely poor manners.

If something is on our own plate it belongs to us, if it is on another person's plate, it belongs to them. Whether in a high end restaurant or in McDonald's, good manners always require asking first, even if it's only ONE french fry off of their plate. Close family members aren't exempt from the need to ask, in fact it is by asking first that we show our respect for one another and simultaneously teach our children what is considered polite, as they mimic the behavior they see.

When the other person agrees to share, you should typically let them portion out what they want to give you on a separate small plate or in a casual setting, transfer the food to your plate with their utensil. If they invite you to take what you like, be sure to use utensils, not fingers.

You are not being snooty or selfish in any way at all. In fact, I find it humorous how many times classy women and those that are polite get labeled as snooty. I received a reader request several  months ago on that very topic which you might be interested to read, it's titled 'Classy or Snooty?.

She then replied:

Dear Karla,

I very much appreciate you responding to my question about table manners and reaffirming my belief about what is considered "proper". Thank You! It really helps to hear another person's perspective on a topic that is still important in today's society, but many have become complacent about. You have been so helpful!

Thanks Again!


Do you have family or friends that feel it's okay to steal your food or pick from your plate? How do you handle it? I'd love to hear from you!

I hope you all are having a fabulous weekend!


  1. Thankfully , Hubby asks before and waits for me to share.

    I love reading your posts, they really do help affirm that good manners never go out of fashion!! HHL

  2. Totally agree with your response Karla.
    My husband never takes food of my plate, or me off his.

    Of course we share sometimes (when I have too much and know I can't finish it), but never in public.

    I think it also has a lot to do with what was acceptable in our homes as children, because this is where a lot of this kind of behaviour stems from (sorry, the Psychologist in me always rears it's ugly head!)

    Great post as always Karla.

  3. I think there is some cultural factor that should be considered because what is perceived as an acceptable behavior in one's culture may turn out to be impolite in another's culture. As my husband and I are very close to each other, we share everything. We can eat soup from the same bowl with the same spoon. So if my husband grabs a piece of food from my plate without asking, I wouldn't have a grudge against him. Instead I would feel happy because I then find out what he likes to eat, and would even ask him if he wants more of it. My husband treats me the same way. Sometimes I would pretend to pout and give him an ugly look just for fun, and he would definitely know it. However, if it is not my husband but someone else, it will not be the case. I would get offended right away.

  4. That is very true Nhan! This post was more geared around what is acceptable and polite in North America. I've done a couple international etiquette posts in the past as it pertains to travel. It would be difficult for me to write the post with every country/culture in mind.

    I really enjoyed seeing what you wrote here though and learning more about your culture as it pertains to sharing food as a husband and wife. :)



Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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