Are you guilty of it? Etiquette expert reveals ultimate meal faux pas
Are YOU guilty of this ultimate dining faux pas? Etiquette expert explains the meaning behind passive aggressive food habit ‘ICE’ – and why so many people do it without realizing
- Ever had a dinner guest compliment you before saying how they’d cook a dish?
- This phenomenon is called dining faux pas is invidious comparison eating, or ICE
- And an etiquette expert says it’s a big no-no and you should hold your tongue
Ever experienced that awkward moment at a dinner party where one of your guests gives you a compliment about one of your dishes – only to follow it up with an unwanted ‘but I use X, Y, Z instead’?
Well, it seems you’re not alone as HuffPost reports millions of Americans have been subjected to this passive-aggressive behavior known as invidious comparison eating, or ICE.
One of them was novelist Kerry Crisley who had an in-law ask her for a shepherd’s pie recipe she served at a family gathering.
‘I served shepherd’s pie and she asked me for the recipe. It was flattering and made me feel like a good host,’ she said.
‘The next time I see her, however, she tells me, “I made your recipe for dinner,” and then proceeds to tell me she switched everything around.
Ever experienced that awkward moment at a dinner party where one of your guests gives you a compliment and it’s followed by an unwanted ‘but I use X, Y, Z instead’? (stock image)
‘I top my shepherd’s pie with cheddar mashed potatoes. She used just a little shaved Parmesan. Instead of mashed potatoes, she used scalloped potatoes. Instead of beef, she used ground turkey. And she used half the amount of Worcestershire sauce.
‘But yet (and this is the kicker) it was “my recipe.” I went from feeling like a good host to a lousy cook.’
Are YOU guilty of invidious comparison eating?
Are YOU guilty of invidious comparison eating?
Now share your opinion
This faux pas detailed by Kerry is an example of ICE and an etiquette expert says it’s a huge dining no-no.
Jackie Vernon-Thompson, founder of Florida’s From The Inside Out School Of Etiquette, says people may think it’s ‘perfectly fine’ to ease into their feedback with a compliment, but it’s not.
‘When someone gives the chef a compliment, then advises them of how they would or does it differently. One would call that a “complisult.” A compliment coupled with an insult,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘They may think it should be perfectly fine because they eased a compliment in the equation. No, no, no.
‘What some may not be aware of is that when you make a statement and follow it with the word “but,” then make another statement, you essentially negate what was said prior to the word “but.” The emphasis is now placed on the latter statement.
‘Another thing to consider, is that it is improper etiquette to interject such a statement as to what you would do in the place of what was done.’
Well, it seems you’re not alone as millions of Americans have been subjected to this passive-aggressive behavior (stock image)
As a guest, Jackie says it is ‘your duty to focus on making the individual feel appreciated.’
‘It is always important to consider the fact that the individual invested time, effort, and in many cases, passion, into preparing the meal provided,’ she said.
‘When served the meal, it is appropriate for you, the guest, to express gratitude for the meal and the efforts made.
‘We ought to be positive, encouraging and, of course, consider our actions and words.’
Etiquette expert Jackie Vernon-Thompson says people may think it’s ‘perfectly fine’ to ease into their feedback with a compliment, but it’s not
By not doing the above, it sends the wrong message and ‘communicates to the individual that what they have prepared is not good enough or there is some sort of deficiency in the ingredients.’
‘It also implies that your ingredients or way of preparing is better than theirs. Translation to that is: you don’t appreciate it,’ Jackie says.
The etiquette expert says delivering statements like this were ‘inappropriate and simply unnecessary,’ and you should hold your tongue.
‘As a child, I would often hear my late and phenomenal mother say, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all,”‘ Jackie said.
‘Such a statement that was made will only hurt a person’s feelings and cause them to feel insufficient and essentially break their spirit.
‘If you desire to compliment the chef authentically, I encourage you to do so with a smile and stop at the compliment.
‘Everyone is different. Everyone’s taste buds are different. What may be palatable to you, may not be palatable to another.’
However ICE is nothing new, it is a phenomenon that’s been going on for hundreds of years, HuffPost reported.
Economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen wrote in his 1889 study about wealth and consumerism, The Theory Of The Leisure Class, that invidious comparison was used by people of wealth to set themselves apart from the lower classes.
He described it as ‘a process of valuation of persons in respect of worth,’ which led to behavior where someone would publicly show off assets they believed to be superior.
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