I'm a stickler for table manners. Ok - I'll admit that on occasion, I may have allowed my elbows to rest upon the table, but other than that, I am usually very keen on maintaining proper composure at the dinner table. But it has come to my attention that not everyone holds these values in as high regard as I do. I'm not going to jump across the table and throttle you if you accidentally begin speaking without having fully cleared your mouth of food, but I will stare at your gaping mouth you until you realize that you need to finish that bite of pasta before continuing your thought. Table manners are important simply because it's really easy for food to go from looking like something delectable to becoming something vomit-inducing. So let's discuss some of my favorite (read: most hated) examples of improper eating etiquette.
1. Talking with Food in Your Mouth
I'm not sure I know anyone that enjoys watching someone else chew with his or her mouth open. It's simply not a pretty picture. Staring at half-masticated food practically falling out of another person's mouth while he or she tries to articulate a complete sentence is certainly not my favorite past time. And I'm confidant in saying that talking with food in your mouth is an offense abhorred across the board and it's probably number one on the list of bad table manners. It's easy to avoid this atrocity; keep your mouth closed until you manage to finish every last bit of the bite. Remember your thought and just wait the chewing out. People will be much more interested in what you have to say when they can actually concentrate on what is coming out of your mouth instead of what's inside your mouth.
2. Chewing with Your Mouth Open
Next comes chewing with your mouth open. I have a very dear friend, whom I love, but I discovered, while on vacation with her, that she chews with her mouth open and to top it off, the chewing-with-her-mouth-open seems to produce a weird smacking sound - a noise, which unfortunately, is completely un-ignorable. When eating with said friend, I noticed that it became increasingly difficult to not concentrate on the smacking. It was almost mesmerizing - well, that was until I realized that I'd tuned everything else out and was literally staring at her gaping mouth trying to determine just how the smacking was being generated. Generally embarrassing for all parties involved. Such a situation can be avoided by making sure to chew with your mouth closed.
3. Eating Like You've Never Eaten Before
I will admit that I have been known to inhale my food every now and again, but I really try not to make a habit of it. I do understand that sometimes you are just so hungry that eating like you've never had a meal in your life seems the the best way to go about filling your belly. Unfortunately, doing this makes you look like a bit of a heathen. You are supposed to enjoy your food and slowly savor each bite - even if it means physically restraining yourself in order to do so. The solution to this problem (and I'm sorry if you're starving, but this is just the way it's got to be) is making sure to chew each bite until it is truly broken down enough to swallow without any trouble. Take your time. The food will most likely taste even better if you chew it thoroughly and slowly instead of swallowing it all whole. AND, you won't look like a caveman.
4. Eating Sloppily
Look, here is another reason to adhere to eating etiquette - you won't spill all over yourself. If you eat sloppily, chances are, you will end up with food all over the front of your shirt and that is not exactly attractive. It's not appealing when you can tell what someone had for dinner just by looking at his or her shirt. That is a bad sign and most likely, not attract any potential mates. Those Tide to Go commercials that feature a prominently-displayed stain demanding attention are 100% accurate - no one is going to pay a damn bit of attention to you if you're covered in marinara sauce and pesto stains. Slow down. Pay attention. It will save you heartache in the long run.
Basically, I just want everyone to know how easy it is to disgust others with improper eating etiquette. Like I said earlier, there is a fine fine line between something mouth-watering and something utterly repulsive - and line is often tread upon by those who do not honor what their parents have taught them about proper dinner table behavior.