Lola’s Kitchen: Table manners …

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Most of us have had the experience of dining next to someone with atrocious table manners, such as befitting a Neanderthal. All right, maybe not in your circles.

About a year ago, I was having lunch with a friend in Old Town San Diego. I looked up and he had a horrified look on his face.

I thought there was spinach or something more inappropriate on my teeth. He was looking past me and at a young woman who was having a big Mexican lunch at another table.

She was hunched over her plate with her nose about 3 inches from her food. She was shoveling it in, not even taking time to swallow before consuming a new forkful. But she could engage in conversation with her companions with her mouth open and full of food.

My friend was disgusted; however, I found it fascinating, similar to driving by a car accident. I could not take my eyes off her, similar to the accident lookie-loos.

Here is another one from when I was married to my first husband, whose sister was married to a doctor.

The brother-in-law’s father was a retired state senator, and I will not say which state. On Thanksgiving, before anyone was seated for dinner, with the food on the table, the doctor served and started eating by himself. My father-in-law immediately straightened him out.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is poor etiquette is still around and you know who you are.

OK, you heard my worst experience with poor table manners. How about letting me know yours?

Good table manners are part of the whole dining experience. This is not about forgetting to put your napkin on your lap, it goes much deeper.

Listening to someone drone on and on is boring; however, humor is important. It involves good conversation, low key music so the conversations can continue. Yes, a scrumptious meal is part of it, but not all. Laughter and good wine are part of the whole experience (you knew I would bring in the wine sooner or later).

I will give you an appetizer recipe in this column but you probably don’t have the appetite for a recipe after this subject matter.

Having made hummus from scratch with a different recipe, the next time I make this particular recipe I will try sauteing the shallots first in a little bit of olive oil. The recipe is from Bon Appetit, “Appetizers & Drinks” booklet, 2006.

Hummus with shallots
Makes 2 1/2 cups

  • 2 cups drained canned garbanzo beans, from two 15-1/2 oz cans, liquid reserved
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)*
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
  • paprika
  • olive oil

Combine garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of bean liquid, lemon juice, tahini, shallots, and 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce in processor. Blend until almost smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.Season hummus to taste with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce if desired. Thin with more bean liquid if too thick. Transfer hummus to bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Sprinkle hummus with paprika and drizzle with olive oil. Serve this with pita chips, yum.

*Tahini is available at Middle Eastern markets, natural food stores, and some supermarkets.

To all my friends and readers, have a wonderful New Year!

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