Scott Hardie | January 18, 2019
When you're with a group of people, and there's some shared food like an appetizer plate or party platter, is it rude to take the last piece of food?

Follow-up question: Do you think your answer to the above is common?

I have heard that there are regional differences of opinion on this, so I'm curious to see what people say.

Erik Bates | January 18, 2019
I mean, someone has to take the last piece, right?

I prefer to have the 5-minute debate...

You take it... no, you take it... no, YOU take it... no, I had more than half of it myself... Naw, it's cool, my entree is big...

Then the server takes it off the table just to shut you up.

Samir Mehta | January 19, 2019
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Steve West | January 19, 2019
Take it. That's why it's being served. As long as everyone has had an opportunity to get at least something. If there's no more after that tray, then the host is at fault, not you. At a restaurant, buy more cheapskate.

Scott Hardie | January 21, 2019
I take the last piece, too, if I want it. First I wait for a while to see if nobody else takes it, and then I usually ask, but after that I see no point in wasting it. Hypothetically, the reason you're not supposed to take the last piece is because it deprives someone else of it -- but if they're not eating it so I can have it, shouldn't I just go ahead and have it?

Someone said to me recently that it's rude to take the last piece, and I can't believe that's still a thing, but manners are weird. In Western culture, it's rude to leave untouched food on your plate, because it's like you're saying that the cook is terrible. In Eastern culture, it's rude to eat the entire plate, because it's like you're saying that the host did not satisfy you. Can't we just get over these imaginary hang-ups and just enjoy our food?

I asked the way that I did because 1) I've heard that it's a Midwestern thing (specifically Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Illinois) to consider eating the last piece rude, and 2) I have heard this repeated enough times that I feel like my own position (go ahead and eat it) is out of sync with the place where I grew up (northern Illinois). Your answers reassure me, so thanks.

And I have the same caveat, Samir. I won't hog a dish all by myself. And if I'm the host, I'll make much more of an effort to get someone else to eat it, and only take it if I'm certain that no one else wants it.

Erik Bates | January 22, 2019
I often wish that restaurants would make more of an effort to make appetizers in multiples that make sense.

I've often seen an appetizer of 5 items. Unless you're eating alone, someone is getting less food.

I'm trying to wrap my head around your scenario, Scott.

If taking the last piece is rude, does that mean the last piece should just go uneaten?

I feel like that makes the next-to-last piece the actual last piece, and the person who took THAT piece could be considered the rude one because they took the last edible piece of appetizer, ad infinitum until we might as well just not order apps or, more appropriately, as you rightly suggested, just get over the imaginary hang-ups and enjoy the food and be thankful for the company we get to enjoy it with.

Samir Mehta | January 22, 2019
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Scott Hardie | January 24, 2019
Good! I'm not the only one who thinks that's crazy. :-)

I guess the rationale is that multiple people might want the last piece, so if anyone must be deprived of it, at least we're all equally deprived of it?

Besides the aforementioned reasons why it's foolish, it's also wasteful. Food shouldn't be wasted deliberately.

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