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My questions is about doggy bag etiquette in restaurants.
My wife and I recently visited an old friend in Northeast Harbor, Maine, for a long weekend. One night we took him out to dine at a restaurant of his choice. When the bill came, I paid it and I asked for our leftovers to be packaged up to take back to his house. The portions had been huge and as a European, in good conscience, I could not bear to think of good food going to waste. Our friend, however, was mortified. He said I had embarrassed him because asking for a “doggy bag” was bad etiquette.
What’s your opinion, Didi? Do I need to apologize for supposedly embarrassing our host?
–Name Withheld, Far Hills, NJ
- In your thank-you note to your host for the marvelous weekend, say, "As a European, I cannot get used to the huge American portions and I cannot abide seeing good food go to waste."
- In France, for instance, the home of gourmet cuisine, it isn't the sophisticated thing to do.
- Interestingly enough, Gen Y is less apt to ask for a doggy bag. A fourth of 18-26-year-olds in a recent survey answered that even if they wanted to ask for one, they wouldn't.
- We're seeing a trend in restaurants refusing point-blank, or simply telling diners to bring their own containers and pack them themselves. Some restaurants will even ask you to sign an indemnity form.
- On the other hand, consumer food waste is a bigger pollutant than cars and industry.
- Doggy bags are inappropriate to ask for at business meals and social events where you are a guest (such as at a wedding or dinner party). On the other hand, if the hostess offers you the rest of the Key Lime Pie, let her wrap it up for you.
- Also, never ask for a doggy bag at a four- or five-star restaurant because they won't have a container and you wouldn't bring your own.
- Never take someone else's leftovers home.
- Even if you paid for your date's dinner, don't ask to take his or her leftovers home, as it will make you look like a cheapskate.
- Furthermore, if you take home a doggy bag and reheat it two days later, don't go whining on social media that the food from that restaurant made you sick, because it's unfair to the restaurant.