In the New York Times, Florence Fabricant gives advice on the fine points of entertaining at home and eating in restaurants. Here, Ruth Bourdain takes those questions and gives her own fucking answers.
Q. Dear RuBo: What’s the proper procedure if somebody brings a bottle of wine to your dinner party? Is it rude not to open it? If you do open it, do you acknowledge who brought it when it makes the rounds?
A. Generally, it’s always fucking rude to not open wine. That said, if (a) the wine is very good (and happens to also be very expensive), you should thank your guest and then proceed to run and hide it and never speak of it again. If (b) the wine is sort of feh, you uncork it and serve it, giving mad props to the giver.
Q. Dear RuBo: Over the years I’ve traveled overseas quite a bit. I invariably order some dish with shrimp in it, something like a soup, or stew, or paella. Very often, they don’t peel the shrimp when they cook it. How are you supposed to eat it? I can’t tell from watching the local diners. Are you supposed to reach in and peel the shrimp with your fingers and create a mess? Picking at it with utensils isn’t very effective or classy. Are you supposed to bite the shrimp and spit out the shells somewhere? Are you supposed to swallow the shells? What if the shrimp still have their heads on, what then? This dilemma has been bugging me for years.
A. How fucking old are you? Do you also ask your husband to cut your meat and blow on it so it cools off?
This is how life works: you plunge your hands into the bowl, pick up a shrimp, bite off its head, spit it over your left shoulder, and then tear the shell off the shrimp’s body using your precious little fingers. Now, if it is a dish like (deep-fried) Chinese salt and pepper shrimp where you’re expected to eat the whole damn thing, this is what happens: you will eat the shrimp whole, you will enjoy its crunchy, oily goodness, and accept the fact that later you will feel the pain of undigested shrimp shells scratching and scraping their way out of your anus. Unpleasant, but certainly worth it.
Q. Dear RuBo: If you are given a finger bowl, just what are you supposed to do?
A. I’m not sure I understand your question. If it’s a real finger, you pack it down into the bowl, light it up, and smoke it. It happens to be one of most fucking incredible drug experiences ever. If it’s one of those old-school “finger bowls” for rinsing your fingers, you simply dip your fingertips in and swirl them around. You might even drink the remaining “soup,” depending on your level of hunger and/or drunkenness.