September 26th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues.

I grew up in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s, eating out and drinking regularly several nights a week. I vividly recall what it was like to be near smokers, whether it was my friends sucking down cloves at the bars (we were 14), weird old men immersed in a smoky haze at the local coffee shop, or grandpa Ed lighting up a cigar at the fancy seafood joint (he gave me the band to wear as a ring, so I was cool with it).

I never liked smoke or smoking, but the law didn’t forbid it back then and people just accepted it as a part of our culture, like being near a smelly person who doesn’t use deodorant. What are you going to do? Outlaw that? Part of the ritual of going out was coming home smelling like smoke - and hoping no one would light up at a good restaurant and impose cigarette smell on the rest of us.
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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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