Sunday, February 10, 2008

Splitting Meals

Last night, again we were invited to dinner out and we went because I had a coupon, but people at the table wanted to "share" and appetizer and dessert. Now I prefer not to because of the a whole "diet" thing, but I don't get why people keep trying to push "sharing" an appetizer with the table.

There were only 5 people and I opted out, DH obviously wanted to participate. But when we go out, he refuses to share an appetizer/dessert, saying it's way to indulgent (way he was raised), so it's likely because he hates to look bad.

But why do people do this? Is it common to keep trying to order appetizers for the table and "share"? If you want an appetizer or dessert, why doesn't the person who orders it pay for it? I feel it should be that way rather than expecting people to chip and pay for something they didn't choose?

Now I'm being really picky I know, but part of is it cost, and part of it is food habits. I acknowledge I have serious food pickiness, but am I so out there to think that people shouldn't share appetizers/desserts?

Is this a common trend? Do people like to order an appetizer for the table? If you are coupled up, why not just share and appetizer and entree between the two? Why does everyone have to participate? And if there is a large group, why order 2-3 appetizers? Aren't meals enough?

It drives me insane because a lot of the times, I also wouldn't pick the appetizer. I don't eat tomatos, certain dairy, no spicy foods, certain fruits etc (food pickiness/allergies). So I hate bringing up except to say I won't be participating (and I don't). But I don't feel like picking an appetizer or dessert because I don't feel like eating it either.

When did going out become so complicated? What happened to seperate bills and choosing your own meal?


I'm Grace. said...

Ah, Living Large--while I would love to meet you someday, I suspect we will NOT be going out to dinner. The dining trend in my seriously foodie city is tapas and small plates, both of which are designed for sharing. It is not unusual for people here to share entrees as well as appetizer and desserts because it allows all of us so many additional taste options.

And yes, at the end, the bill is split. However, one of my vegan friends who still likes to eat out usually orders separately from the rest of us and gets a separate ticket. It works out OK, except that we're prone to tasting her food while she never tries ours!

Anonymous said...

After a bad experience, DH and I always ask who is responsible for the bill. If we are invited out to diner, yes, I ask. If friends start drinking (like magnums of champagne. ugh.) we opt out from sharing the bill and casually tell the waitress to give us a separate bill.
I'm not concerned what anyone thinks of DH and I. I ask. We've even been invited to peoples homes for dinner and when I ask if I can bring something, I've been told that I am expected to 'pay' $25 per person. yes! Even in people's homes!!!!
One time DH and I were invited out to an Easter dinner. At the table we were told we had to pay for our own meals because 'they' didn't want to pay for a certain person's girlfriend. Our waitress thought it was outrageous and offered to seat us at another table. I just ordered food for my daughters, paid the bill AND WALKED OUT!!!
PS: my DH does not like people's forks poking into his chosen food items. Yuck!
When we go out with friends/family, I ask and we order and pay for our own food. period. End of story. No more problems. Now, we can enjoy people's company, which is the whole point of going out together in the first place.

Jill said...

When I ask if anyone wants to split an appetizer, I don't intend it to be a demand. All my companions have to say is, "no, thanks, not for me." No problem. I say that myself when someone else suggests sharing and I don't want to (perhaps because my budget won't allow it, because I'm not hungry enough for it, or because it just doesn't sound good that day).

And you asked why people want to share appetizers. In my case, it's a desire to taste a small something in addition to dinner, or to try something new. Normally a full appetizer eaten on my own will leave me too full to enjoy dinner, so if nobody else wants it I don't bother either.

Once in a while it turns out a few of us have similar appetizer desires that night, and we get to share. If nobody brings up the idea, we wouldn't find that match.

Anyway, I'm hoping that hearing that my motivations are good ones when I suggest an appetizer might make going out to dinner with your friends more comfortable for you. All you have to say is, "No, thanks" in a reasonably pleasant tone.

And if your friends don't graciously accept that, then yeah, avoiding dinner with them sounds like a good idea.

Living Almost Large said...

LOL, I have serious food issues with people NOT in my family. I will happily share food with family members and eat off their plates (DH is the one with issues about that).

However, this is different. There have been times where I've been fed-up and actually asked for a seperate bill (usually occurs with coworkers for lunch). I never drink during working hours and I HATE when people order cup of wine or beer and expect me to pay.

Yes I am cheap, but I also am extremely picky about my food.

What I don't like is 2-3 people ordering appetizers for everyone and even when you say you don't want to participate they still order it and expect you to pay.

And Cinzea I've had rude people actually ask for cash donations as well to their home. It was a bit strange.

I also do not drink red wine and I hate when people order bottles and want everyone to pay.

Now I'm showing my true pickyness and cheapness.

Debt Dieter said...

Sounds like you need to find people who are more like you to eat dinner with, or at least set the ground rules up front?

Living Almost Large said...

I can't reveal my true pickiness in real life. After all I doubt I'd have any "friends". LOL. We all do things we hate.

But I do avoid going out to eat sometimes because I always end up screwed.

With real friends I am pretty honest. I don't exchange presents for christmas or birthdays with ANY friends. When I finished college I told them I was broke and couldn't afford it, I swear I think they all breathed a sigh of relief. Now we wish each other happy birthday and we happen to go out, great! But usually one on one. Not a group setting either (again because I was broke I said I couldn't go out 8 years ago!).

I wonder how it would play out now with new acquitances who know we aren't so broke? Now my old friends love the fact that we just call and wish each other happy birthday or merry christmas. I know they love not having to shop for me!

Jill said...

I definitely agree that people shouldn't be railroaded into paying for appetizers or drinks they didn't partake of, and shame on the people who try to push others to order more than they want or to split wildly uneven restaurant bills evenly.

Just please, please -- make allowances for those of us who really do make offers to share in the spirit of fun and pleasure, and who are respectful of others' appetites and pocketbooks. Don't lump us in with the obnoxious. :)

Living Almost Large said...

Definitely. But I think people shouldn't say "Shall we split an appetizer." Instead say I'm going to order and appetizer and then they should pay for it. And if they happen to share great.

If you constantly say "shall we split it?" How can someone respond no, I don't want to because I don't eat Tomatos (so no to tomato and mozarella)?

See the point? If you are going to ask, I think you should be ready to fork over the entire amount.

Just like dessert the other night, I didn't have much because it's not something I would have chosen.

I'm Grace. said...

Living Large--you could just "develop allergies." Allow a slight frown to come over your face and say "If I eat those tomatoes, my face will swell up and I'll go into resperatory arrest. Sorry." (Then hope they didn't notice that you wolfed down the Shrimp Provencal and THOSE tomatoes just fine!)

Financially Broke said...

Whenever I go out, I order an appetizer. I pay for it. I usually share... unless the appetizer is only 4 cheese sticks and there are more than 2 people eating them! (I want more than one of something I am paying for!) I never ask if someone wants to split it; when it comes I just say, "want one?".

Of course, in my circle of friends, we all pay for our own selections. If everything is on one bill, everyone looks at it and throws in what they purchased. This only happens when we all go out in a large group, because we know it is easier on the waitress to give one bill to the table than 14 seperate checks.

Angie said...

When going out to dinner, I always assume that we will be paying for ourselves, that way the only surprise would be a pleasant one! DH and I always ask people if they are interested in splitting an appetizer, but we also pay for the whole thing if we order it. It just wouldn't occur to us to not offer to share with our friends and families. But again, we always pay for it and don't expect "donations" to cover the cost of the food we want to eat.

I am shocked that people would ask for money when they invite you over to their house for dinner though. If we aren't feeling flush but want friends over, we do a potluck - one family brings salad, another brings dessert and we provide a casserole and drinks. Everyone we spend time with is very generous and happily provide for the feast. I can't imagine asking people for money!

Living Almost Large said...

I have used the allergy thing on ice cream and stuff. And glad I'm not alone about expecting others to pay if they suggest.

MEG said...

LAL - You seem to have some anxiety issues surrounding your food/going out to eat. Of COURSE you can/should just say "no thanks; I don't really enjoy tomatoes" when someone says "shall we share this appetizer?" Why shouldn't you exert your preference when your dinner partners are clearly exerting theirs? Stand up for heaven's sake and quit seething and complaining in private!

There's NOTHING wrong with saying "You know I'm watching my weight and am going to just get an entree." Or "I prefer not to drink tonight but by all means you go ahead!" Any normal person will take your preferences in stride and not expect you to pay for their indulgences.

But you can't complain about "the new dining out culture" when you aren't letting your desires be known to your "friends" in restaurants. To hear your posts one would think you chronically dine with total strangers with whom you could never admit your true feelings.

BTW, sharing appetizers is quite a fun and frugal thing to do among friends who enjoy similar foods. Frequently I like to share an app with friends and then each get a salad or other appetizer for "entree". It saves $$ and allows you to sample multiple foods. But I'd never be offended or taken aback in any way if my tastes didn't line up with a dinner partner's. In that case we'd just all get our own food and pay our own way.

Living Almost Large said...

Sounds good, but what happens MEG, when the bill comes and some person say let's just split the bill???

Um, no. I didn't participate and mentioned it, and I am now paying for splitting an appetizer I wouldn't chose, wine I don't drink, and dessert I prefer not to eat.

And yes I have major anxiety issues with food. I am picky. But I know for a fact MANY people often say "let's split the bill evenly, before you even have a chance to look at it!" They just figure "oh well most people participated in wine drinking, dessert, appetizer." Well NO!

I think you suggest, you pay! No more splitting of tabs. We should all pay our own way.

Sorry but don't share your meals, order what you want and if you can't eat it, take it home. Don't expect others to fork over money to feed you.

And it's not frugal for the person not eating the appetizer.

Next time MEG, don't suggest an appetizer and see if anyone else brings it up! IF they do then maybe your friends enjoy it. IF they don't then you know you are the only person who wants appetizer.

Also if they don't bring it up, then see what happens.

Jill said...

This reminds me of people writing to Miss Manners indignant about having been invited to something they don't want to go to. I recall once she said, "An invitation, unless it is to go to another realm, is not an insult." She has also said, as I recall, "An invitation is not a summons."

Asking if anyone wants to split an appetizer is not the same thing as bullying them into eating it or paying for it. I occasionally suggest splitting something, but I'm far more often the one saying, "No, thanks, but you go ahead."

If someone wants to split the bill evenly, you can always say pleasantly that you didn't have the appetizer/wine/cocktails or whatever. The person making the suggestion was probably just thinking of making the paying up step simpler and had forgotten or not noticed that there was a disparity in ordering. If the person persists after you've said that you don't want to split evenly, THEN they are being rude.

You for some reason seem to treat suggestions as if they were commands.

And I hereby beg everyone reading this, please don't fake food allergies! It makes life harder for those of us who actually have to avoid certain foods (celiac here), because people dismiss us as faking.

Living Almost Large said...

I don't fake allergies, I say I prefer not to eat it. I have spoken up about not drinking wine/beer and it's been ignored.

I believe that there are lot of people out there that like others to pick up their tab. I am sure I'm not alone in saying that when you mention, I didn't have a beer, people still put booze in the general tab!