Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I was at an acquaintance’s house the other day to discuss a project for our school. Her college-aged son was there and was very polite and said hello. He then went to the refrigerator, plopped down where we were, and started to eat. I was a little surprised that his mother did not say something to him about eating in front of other people. I told my husband about it and he said I was making a big deal about it since the kid is in college, and it is their house. What is your opinion or the official etiquette rule on eating in front of others?
The rule on eating in front of others is to always offer some to your guest. As soon as someone comes in your house, you should offer him something to drink. Some people take that a step further and always have food out for guests. When a child has his first play date, the caregiver should explain that he should not go into the pantry to get a snack for himself, without getting one for his friend(s). It may take reminding every time until he is in high school, but caregivers need to continue to make the point. This mother should have said to her son, “Would you please offer Mrs. Smith some X.” If Mrs. Smith refuses, then the reply should be something such as, “We also have some Y or Z. Please let me know if I can get you anything.” This young man should have said hi, explained that he was starving and needed to eat, and then offered you something to eat. He then should have gotten his food, and discreetly gone into another room to eat it.