DEAR MISS MANNERS: Edible dinnerware seems to be newly popular, and I am not sure how to handle it. When I ordered clam chowder, it was served in a hollowed-out mini loaf of sourdough bread.
Do I assume that the establishment has run out of regular bowls and not eat the bowl? Which is what I did, as there was sourdough bread served on the side. Digging into the empty bowl at the table did not seem quite proper.
GENTLE READER: You will forgive Miss Manners for the patient smile she develops when told of a modern trend. In medieval times, trenchers, flat rounds of bread, were used as plates. The custom was to give them to the poor after the meal when they (the bread, not the poor) were soaked with juices.
Nowadays, this would not be considered an attractive (or sanitary) form of philanthropy. However, it is reasonable to assume that a trendy restaurant has no intention of washing and reusing your edible soup bowl. You may therefore eat it, or not, as you wish.
Miss Manners shares your confusion at the redundancy of serving bread on the side, but perhaps the restaurant is trying to accommodate both those who like their bread soggy and those who do not.
Emails beyond the grave
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Twice in the past month, I’ve been sent emails with lists of recipients that include people who have recently died: one an invitation to lunch, and another to advise that a high school classmate had died.
In both cases, it was clear from the email’s content that the sender knew that the recipients were dead. I was especially horrified to see that the one regarding the classmate who died was sent to the dead classmate (along with around 100 other people).
Is sending email to a dead person to advise the person that he has died appropriate? Would it be more appropriate to cc: the deceased in the event that the surviving family might see and appreciate the email? Would it be appropriate for me to contact the sender(s) and suggest that this is in poor taste?
GENTLE READER: Indeed, Miss Manners agrees that the dead should be allowed the courtesy of resting in peace without being bombarded with emails.
It would be rude of you to correct the sender’s manners, so we shall have to call it an oversight, as if it were not an unforgivable one, considering the content of the missive. Then you would simply write suggesting that under the circumstances, these people’s names should be removed from the list.
Just say no thanks
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Do I need to provide a reason why I am not attending my sister’s wedding?
GENTLE READER: Your sister already knows the reason, and so does the rest of the family. Miss Manners considers it best to decline gracefully without mentioning whatever unpleasantness — or difficult personal circumstances — prevent you from attending.
Actually, excuses are never needed in declining invitations, and they only lead to trouble. When they are legitimate, hosts may not consider them more important than their events, and when they are fake, they are bound to be found out.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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