Is Sharing Meals Frowned Upon?

Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:11 PM
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Is Sharing Meals Frowned Upon?

Husband and I are bound for Puglia at the end of the month. A combination of the dire state of the dollar as well as the fact we always seem to have more to eat than either of us can manage has us contemplating sharing meals. It would also allow us to sample more of the menu since we would then cover all courses, including antipasti, primi e secondi. I read a recent post (can't remember the author) who indicated sharing meals was a major no-no in Italy. Any thoughts?
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:30 PM
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I think sharing an entire meal between two people would be a major no-no in any country, even the US. Seriously, I can't imagine someone walking into a regular restaurant where I live in the US and ordering one appetizer, one entree, and one salad, and having two people sit down to dinner at that table -- and what, expect them to give you two place servings? That sounds like a soup kitchen or something. I think any restauranteur where I live would "frown" upon that, even if legally they couldn't kick you out of the restaurant. They could just say we don't give free place settings to people who aren't ordering food.

You could do that at a fast food restaurant, of course, or any place where you stand in line to pick up your food and go to your own table. Or at some real casual cafe, where soem people aren't even eating necessarily, just having a drink.

If you want to split a dessert or antipasti, that should be okay, but not your entire meal.

Is there some country where you routinely do that, split one meal between two people?
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:36 PM
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You only have to eat the courses you want to eat, not every course on the menu.

I have never had any problem sharing courses as I liked, sometimes by using an extra plate, sometimes the cook split the dish, sometimes we trade plates halfway through.

However, I think it would be rude to share every course. Even in the US, restaurants try to get around diners doing so by charging "extra plate" fees.

To have your proposed choice of antipasto, primo and secondo, I would order the antipasto and share it. Then I'd have the primo and secondo arrive together, and you can share it as you like, switching plates between.

You will find prices in Puglia much more reasonable than in more tourist-popular parts of Italy. I was in Florence and Puglia earlier this month and can vouch for the lower prices.

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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:40 PM
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Well, we do it all the time! LOL.

When we were in Germany and Austria in September and on all of our other trips to Europe, we usually share an entre and then one of us might get a soup as well as drinks. Sometimes we might even get a desert since we didn't overdo it on the main meal.

Many restaurants even split the entre for us in the kitchen. We've NEVER had anyone act like it was a problem or "frowned upon".

And these weren't fast food places, but hotel restaurants, cafes, etc. Obviously, we would not do this in a fancy restaurant but then we don't frequent that many fancy restaurants on our vacation.

So, I would just ask and if they say no or act like it's a problem, then you can decide if you want to eat there or go somewhere else.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:49 PM
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I'm thinking perhaps I didn't explain this very well. My intention was not to simply order one item off the menu and share it. I agree that would likely be frowned upon anywhere. I think I have the answer from Ellenem. We were contemplating what you were suggesting, sharing an appetizer and having one first and one second course arrive together and then each sharing. And, ordering wine and dessert. Hopefully that doesn't sound rude. Or does it?
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:00 PM
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I believe the Bible, not an unknown text in Italy, relates a story about a certain five loaves and two fishes. The story implies that sharing food is a virtue, not a vice. (It is gluttony, not sharing, that is supposed to be one of the 'seven deadly sins.' Now, dunno about you, but 'deadly' to me definitely suggests something frowned upon, a 'major no-no'..... )

This may or may not explain why I've yet to run into a restauranteur who objected to us sharing dishes - formally or informally (as in, discreetly sharing without the benefit - or expense to the restaurant - of separate plates and utensils). Of course, we never took it to extremes - we didn't idle away 3 hours at the table sharing exactly one dish of pasta, for example.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:18 PM
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Marta,

I have done exactly as you and I describe many times in Italy.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:26 PM
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But why all the courses, if you often find yourself facing "more to eat than either of us can manage"?

Who in Italy actually eats antipasto + primo + secondo + dessert...whether shared or not?

I understand you want to sample widely. But that approach may work against eating really well -- eg choosing the best dish on the menu and being satisfied with that.

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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:31 PM
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sure you can share - but I agree -- why so many courses?

Also, they don't serve the mountains of food you might be used to back home.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:39 PM
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Sharing courses is fine but sharing the false teeth is not.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:45 PM
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"Who in Italy actually eats antipasto + primo + secondo + dessert...whether shared or not?"


My husband and I. Unfortunately, we don't share. We love to eat!

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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 05:25 PM
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Well these responses are making me chuckle! I have been to Italy a few times, although never to Puglia. I love to sample different things in particular pasta. And, it seems, there is usually a lot of pasta. Normally not a bad thing! In any event, we will proceed with our plan and Ellenem, I will let you know how it goes. Bobthenavigator, so far we have been scrupulous about respecting individual ownership of the false teeth.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 05:48 PM
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I've shared plenty of dishes with my dinner companions, in the US and in other countries, including Italy, and nobody has ever made me feel as it if were unacceptable. I had no idea this was considered a "faux pas."

So long as each person is ordering at least one dish (even if it's just a salad and/or appetizer), I don't see what the problem is. Who cares if my husband gives me a little of his dish and I give him some of mine? I've never had anyone say anything about it before.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 05:56 PM
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Seriously, I can't imagine someone walking into a regular restaurant where I live in the US and ordering one appetizer, one entree, and one salad, and having two people sit down to dinner at that table -- and what, expect them to give you two place servings?

I do this almost EVERY WEEKEND. Nobody has kicked us out of a restaurant yet, and I've been doing this for many years.

Seriously, this is considered a "no-no?" I guess all of my friends are horribly backwards then. When I go out with a friend, we routinely order an appetizer each and an entree to share, or vice versa. I have yet to meet a waiter who even raised an eyebrow. (We're spending plenty, with cocktails and wine, so it's not like we're stiffing them.)
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 07:54 PM
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I think that it would be frowned upon, at least in Florence. We had the experience that DH was starved in the middle of a shopping spree, so we stopped at a roadside pizzeria. He ordered a pizza, but I didn't want anything (having just had a gelato 5 minutes earlier). I also didn't order a drink, since I'd been carrying my water bottle all day. They acted like I was the epitome of all evil, so I ordered a drink I didn't want. I think the waiters in Italy have serious attitude, and I sure wouldn't want to cross them!
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 09:47 PM
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Hi MartaD,

I agree with some of the others that it is completely acceptable to split courses with your husband. My DH and I do it all the time. When we were in Italy in 2005 we did it nearly every single night in every type of restaurant. We couldn't possibly try everything we wanted so we both ordered different things and shared. I would order a first, my husband a second, and so on. The waiters were very supportive and often split the dishes for us themselves. We ALWAYS tipped appropriately and were never made to feel that it was considered wrong. Because we shared we were able to sample twice as many dishes as we would have been able to otherwise. We also do it very frequently in restaurants around the US and particularly where we live in California. Some restaurants charge extra for the "service" and if they do we then have the option of either sharing or not. I highly recommend that you pick and choose to order and split as many of the wonderful dishes you can while in Puglia!
--KG
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 10:19 PM
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The food in Puglia is marvelous, we LOVED it. But as others have said before, portion size is way way smaller than what Americans are used to. And we never had any problems with too much food. We ordered what we liked from the menu, and tasted/shared from each other's plates in order to sample more of the wonderful offerings. And yes, the prices are way way less than what we are used to in northern Italy and larger cities. Enjoy.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 10:49 PM
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Christina-- that may be true for "some" old fashioned thinkers...But today with the cost of eating out, I feel that you should get what you really want (not what's acceptable to staff)...
No, I don't go out on a Friday at 7:30 and hog a table and split a dinner ..very often..haha...But all over the world I order maybe one glass of wine,appetizer,salad and dessert and have no qualms about sharing the main course from time to time.My partner orders what he likes ( which is usually the main,water, and maybe dessert).Sometimes we order just the main course(2) and water and I'm sure they don't "like* that either. I don't give a flip what some waiter thinks.(which is about the tip)
Sometimes we just order whatever looks good.I remember we ate in Rome at a wonderful place and all we had was the antipasto. In Pompeii they looked at us like we were crazy to order one pizza(large) and told us the locals eat one pizza each!!!...Today it's all about the boomers getting the "custom" they want...and it works for Europe too at least for the low to mid range anyway...
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Old Apr 1st, 2008, 01:41 AM
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If you order 1 meal when there are 2 of you, it is a no no. Do you buy one shoe at a time to save money? It is the same in reverse
Just think that the restaurant could have used your table to sit 2, serve 2 and get paid for 2.

If you order 2 meals for 2 and want to share, it is OK whatever you order and whatever you share.


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Old Apr 1st, 2008, 04:03 AM
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This is a philosophical question. We operated a restaurant for 17 years. Our house guests were served the house menu. Off-the-road customers were welcome to split meals or order double ones! A favorite story...The lady requested a credit because she hadn't eaten the broccoli. Another...How many times can we go through the salad bar? My suggestion: Before seating, inquire. Some European restaurants offer entrees by the kilo. Our favorite pizza house welcomes pizza orders of half this topping and half another. We have had it served on two plates; a main plate and another plate; and a main plate and two others. I have also read menus that spell out meal sharing options.
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