July 16th, 2013
08:00 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues.

I get it. The summer heat is brutal. You want to wear less. Go ahead: Trot out your sandals (or even the mandals). You do realize, though, that showing off your hairy knuckles may cause some folks to run for cover (see this recent Slate article and the nearly annual Details column on the subject). Hey, it’s your body, right?

Not so fast. If you’re a server at a public restaurant, different standards apply. It’s no longer a personal thing; your choices are business decisions. You actually do have to consider what other people will think - especially if you hope to get a decent tip. Your boss may even tell you how to dress. That’s his or her right.

So why then do we continue to see so many egregious examples of unappetizing (and borderline repulsive) fashion when we sit down to eat and drink?

I believe that rules of hygiene and etiquette have not been clearly stated, or even discussed (it was years before someone told me that blowing my nose at the table was rude). So below I’ve rounded up the six style and grooming choices that, right or wrong, are most likely to offend customers. If you’re a waiter or busboy (and I’ve been both), you’d be wise to consider these quasi-taboos.

And if you’re just a fellow diner, you might want to give these a read, too. Dissenters, of course, are free to ignore the suggested don’ts. Just don’t sit near me.
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July 2nd, 2013
02:45 PM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

Think cookouts are all about freedom - cook what you want, how you want, when you want? Yeah, sure, if you’re cooking for one. But if you’re hosting or attending any cookouts this season, and hope to see these people again in the future, you are bound by a surprising number of codes of conduct. Ironically, these issues come to the fore as Independence Day approaches.

Now’s the time to stare down any hot topics so you know where you stand on each. Below are the ten key questions you will inevitably need to ask your host, or answer for your guests, before a single coal or burner is lit.
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June 11th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

Before you head out a steakhouse, there are some things you ought to know. First, you may see some terrific lesser-known cuts of beef on the menu, a growing trend according to steak experts. Chuck flap and sirloin flap are said to be on the rise.

Unfortunately, an experimental palate may bring you one step closer to the bane of the meat-eater’s existence. I am talking, of course, about the dreaded overly chewy piece of steak: that inedible morsel of gristle or fat that no amount of chewing will render swallow-worthy.

If you think there is a “right” way to handle this unfortunate culinary experience, you’re wrong. I consulted numerous sources - chefs, etiquette experts, and my dad - and they all offered different solutions for this very sorry scenario.
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June 4th, 2013
10:45 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

Deliverymen may be the most misunderstood, and least appreciated, of all gratuity-based workers. Sure, there are some bad eggs in the mix, but the vast majority of them work for tips in a completely unregulated, and unstructured, environment—somewhat like café baristas.

Restaurant servers, for example, may not know exactly how much tip they’ll get, but tips generally hover around 15-20% in most of the country. Same thing goes for cabbies. In cities where passengers can use credit cards, there are even gratuity suggestions (15%? 20%? 25%?). But delivery people have no such organized system. They must graciously accept spare change as often as a fiver.

After talking to friends - smart food fans who order out a lot - I found that there’s no consensus about how to tip the delivery person. Below are the 10 key questions we must ask ourselves before forking over cash to the man/boy/woman/snot/angel who finally appears at the door bearing brown bags or boxes - and a bill.
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How to avoid (or start) a fight with a food snob
May 10th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

May is filled with opportunities to feast, starting with Cinco De Mayo and ending with Memorial Day weekend, the semi-official start of grilling season. It should be a happy, face-stuffing time as we say hello once again to seasonal staples.

But with this upswing in communal eating often comes heated debates about culinary gaffes, as in: You’re doing it wrong!

Here are four food fights in the making - assuming there’s a food snob in the room.
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