lifestyle

The 8 most annoying things about sharing a meal with friends.

Nothing causes more behind-the-back bitching in friendship groups than awkward shared eating scenarios.

Don’t deny it. Don’t pretent you haven’t walked away from a supposedly lovely night out and immediately turned to Friend #1 and said “Can you believe Friend #2 got her calculator out?!?” And guaranteed Miss Calculator is bitching to her car-pool friend at that very moment about how many cocktails you ordered and how rude it was that you expected the bill to then be evenly split.

There’s just so much room for disaster.

shared food etiquette
Yeah, they’re smiling now…

Well, guess what? I’m here to help, friends. The shared eating experience should be a time of peace and bonding, so I’ve decided to document the most annoying parts of this culinary minefield so we all know what should be avoided. The ‘Absolute, Ultimate and Official Guide’, if you will.

Bookmark this list. Share it. Passive aggressively tag people. Let me say the things that you don’t feel you can:

1. When nobody takes charge of the ordering.

It’s important in these complex situations that an experienced and confident individual takes the reins. It’s a fact of life that when left without a sufficient leader, a table of diners will be physically incapable of making any kind of concrete ordering decisions. They need a hero; a ‘saviour’ if you will. Someone who takes charge and says “Yes. We will go with Banquet Option C and that’s with fried rice not steamed.”

shared food etiquette
Let The Hunger Games begin.
ADVERTISEMENT

2. When the person who takes charge does a crappy job.

Nothing makes your heart sink like the person in charge telling the waiter that “two dishes will definitely be enough for all eight of us.” Um… Maybe if I was the lead character in a Dickens novel.

If you insist on taking charge, do it right. Nobody wants to fight to the death over the last wedge.

3. The person who ruins the even distribution with their dietary requirements.

Vegetarians. Vegans. Fishotarians. Gluten-isnt-trendy-tarians. Fruitarians. No-sugar-tarians. There’s-too-much-fat-in-that-tarians.

Nobody cares what bandwagon you’re currently sitting on. When you order the only dish you’re prepared to eat, it throws out the balance for everybody else who is ordering with the whole table in mind. Share the beef nachos and come back down to earth, Gwyneth.

4. The person who eats more than their fair share.

Just because this is a food sharing situation doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. The fact that everybody turned up to dinner kind of indicates that everybody would like to eat dinner. There’s nothing worse than four dishes coming to the table and one person taking a disproportionate amount from each one. You’re not lined up outside a free soup kitchen during World War Two – there’s no need to stockpile. So, just put the breaks on Grabby McHands.

Settle down, psycho.
Settle down, psycho.
ADVERTISEMENT

5. All entrees assume that groups of friends only consist of even numbers.

I’m not sure what happens in restaurant school, but there must be a whole section of the curriculum devoted to the fact that all groups of friends are made up of two, four or six people, and entree numbers must reflect that. Maybe it’s the lesson in between learning that you can charge double the price for doing half the work if you call something ‘deconstructed’. Or that cramming entire meals into jars is super ‘kitsch’.

There’s nothing worse than everybody pretending they don’t want the last dumpling when actually everybody really, really wants the last dumpling. It’s actually been confirmed by science that there’s no other time on earth when more passive aggressive laughter is exchanged than when there’s one deep-fried entree item left on a plate.

6. The person who orders something that can’t be shared.

No, you can’t just ‘give everybody a taste’ of your piece of steak. That’s not how food sharing works you psycho. Order a dish that can be scooped with a spoon or picked up with tongs. Simple. Anything that must be cut into individual pieces by you should be saved for when you’re eating your own meal or feeding a baby.

7. The person who dips the fork they’ve been eating with into the shared dish.

There are special serving utensils that come with each plate of shared food. And if you look down at the table directly in front of you, you’ll find special utensils that are just for you. Your utensils should stay within a five centimetre radius of your body. The only trip they should be making is from your plate, to your mouth.

Have you and I pashed? Do we share a toothbrush or bodily fluids? No? Then I don’t want to start now. Keep your saliva fork on your own plate and out of my beef and black bean, thanks.

smdg
Put it away Scrooge McDuck.
ADVERTISEMENT

8. Annoying Bill Splitting.

This problem is nuanced and complex, and needs to be split into three sections.

a) The person who drinks cocktails like water then expects the bill to be evenly split.

If your drink has an umbrella in it, you should pay for that yourself. Ain’t no way the girl who’s drinking house wine (cough *always me* cough) should have to pay for your gold-flaked pina colada.

b) The person who doesn’t realise their own wealth.

Hey, Mark Zuckerberg – I know you really want to eat the King Prawns drenched in truffle oil (almost certainly stuffed into a jar), but keep in mind that means about three people at your table will probably be eating Mi Goreng for a week. Be a pal; keep it reasonable.

c) That one person who never brings cash.

This is always the person who seems completely bewildered that cash money is a thing that exists. They also have real trouble understanding that paying for 1/8 of a meal with a different tender is inconvenient. “Oh, can I put my $22.75 on credit card? I can’t? But how do I pay then? Cash? I don’t have that.”

To keep the waiter from committing a violent act, someone will always inevitably cover this person’s cash share. And unless you can pay someone back with a credit card, that person is never going to see that money again.

d) The person who gets out their phone calculator.

Now, unless someone at the table has partaken in behaviours 8a or 8b, there’s no reason why the bill shouldn’t be evenly split. Yes, someone else may have eaten more than you, or so-and-so may have had two cokes and you only had one but… Demanding to pay $23 when everyone else is paying $28 just makes you look like a knob cloud. If you know that five or ten dollars is going to make you feel epically ripped off, then establish before the meal starts that everyone should ‘pay their own way’.

Otherwise, suck it up, put the calculator away and stop trying to Google the price of individual tapas.

So… Have I missed anything? Let me know in comments.


FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???