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5 Things You Shouldn’t Eat at a Restaurant

Updated on November 22, 2012

We're here to help

Go out to eat, but eat carefully. Leave the house for a sumptuous meal with silverware made from real silver, but check out these important items not to eat. You might be surprised, but we're here to help. The less time you spend in the Emergency Room, the more time you can earn a living and pay taxes. The less money you spend to bail yourself out of night court, the more fried cheese and salsa you can order up.

1. Gum under the table

Beneath your rich mahogany table clings a treasure trove of free gum. Avoid it at all costs. Expect to be tempted by a wide variety of textures, flavors, and brands. Also expect that the first one or more people who chewed that gum, although they thoughtfully left it for you to enjoy, may have been carrying all manner of virulent dental diseases that even now are building up moderately enlightened civilizations just above your knees and just below your basket of free bread sticks. Keep your hands above the table.

2. Other people's meals

Be sure to understand the classic restaurant model:

  1. Occupy a previously unoccupied table, booth, or stool.
  2. Relay your food request to a member of the staff.
  3. Wait patiently until your own personal meal is delivered, or visit the salad bar.
  4. Eat your meal.
  5. Pay for your meal.

Step 4 is crucial, but rarely is it studied in sufficiently excruciating detail, probably because no government grants have been made available. No restaurant in the modern world encourages grazing from the meals of strangers at other tables. Do not eat other people's meals. Don't even wander through the maze of tables gazing lovingly at other people's meals: that's what the menu is for.

3. Anything from the aquarium

The atrium aquarium is not a marine salad bar. Resist the urge to nosh on a goldfish on your way back from the pay phone. Stride confidently past what appears to be self-serve sushi but is actually a soothing addition to the general decor and a convenient hand-washing station for unsupervised children. You'll annoy the maître d'hôtel and possibly get arrested, either of which could ruin your evening.

4. Your napkin

Napkins are made from paper. Paper is made from trees, Trees provide a luscious maple syrup so wonderfully delicious that most people have to dilute it with pancakes. Your powers of logic are strong, but you still shouldn't eat the napkin.

Note: many restaurant servers enable this risky behavior: if you ask for another napkin, few waiters and even fewer waitresses will ask you what happened to the one they already gave you. Perhaps the frequency of napkin-eating could be greatly reduced if these brave men and women would only speak up.

5. The grease pit

All the best stuff from your hamburgers, Tilapia, pork chops, french fries, and deep fried cheese ends up in the grease pit. All the finer restaurants offer this tempting temptation, but try your best to resist. Don't sneak around back with your basket of free taco chips: you won't find yourself welcome. You'll find yourself competing with tree-huggers planning to dump the stuff into their grease-powered vehicles. Those folks don't typically carry automatic weapons, but they will put a serious shame on you and your dinner party.

Whoop, there it is.

To reiterate, we're here to help. Look forward to future self-help articles such as "10 surprising things not to say to a circus clown" and "5 simple things not to shoplift from Costco."


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    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      This was very funny and I just got inspired to write a similar hub myself, thanks and keep up the good work :)

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Another enjoyable hub. One question it acceptable to eat cloth napkins? And what about the etiquette regarding food left on other tables after the diners have departed? Are those tempting bones and morsels thrown away or given to the wait staff as bonuses? It would be a shame to waste all those goodies, but I wouldn't want to take dinner away from an over-worked bus boy.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

      drbj : Meet me at the grease pit behind McDonald's and I will reimburse you.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Congrats, nicomp. You have won the Emily Post Etiquette Award for Fine Dining Tips. They are anxious to ship this 50-pound plaque award to you. The plaque is absolutely free but it will be shipped to you C.O.D. for the slight shipping and handling charge of $37.92.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Well don't go to Chinatown! The goldfish there are destined for the table! (As are the lizards, snakes and turtles.)

    • Valerie F profile image

      Valerie F 5 years ago from Idaho Falls, ID

      Regarding napkins, you'd think the problem of napkin eating would be solved by using linen napkins as some finer establishments do. However, linen is made from flax, and flax is good for you....

    • kimberlie33 profile image

      Kimberlie Kacan 5 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

      Hilarious! Thank you very much for sharing - I can't tell you how many times I've been tempted to eat my napkin! =)

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 5 years ago from Cardiff

      Hehe that is quite funny, great hubs. Shall be looking at your other hubs.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Funny. Sometimes the fish in the aquarium look pretty good to me!

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      This hub was very enjoyable to read. I will know my manners better the next time I go to a restaurant :-) Thanks for sharing it!

    • Niteriter profile image

      Niteriter 5 years ago from Canada

      Nicomp, you always give me reason to wonder. Life is a grand experience because you are in it.

      However, you did dim the shine of your perfection just a little in Item No. 3. With your prolific Hub production and such, I was shocked to discover that you are even aware that some restaurants use paper napkins. I would have sworn you to be a person who sups only at establishments where linen and fine wine are the normal course of things.