Dear RuBo: I’m a Horrible Stepmother in Need of Validation from the New York Times!

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. I have remarried and live in a family home with my new husband’s twin 18-year-old daughters. (They live here part time.) He and I had gone out to dinner and I did not finish my meal, so I asked to take the items home. Once at home, I had placed the leftovers in the refrigerator to enjoy the next day. The next morning one of the girls decided to treat herself to my leftovers without asking. I thought this was rude and disrespectful, to munch on a meal that was not her own. But my husband found nothing wrong with this and felt that leftovers in the fridge were an open invitation to anyone to enjoy. Am I being petty or stingy? Are there any etiquette rules on this situation? How can I handle this?  

A. What the fuck is wrong with you? What’s next? Writing your name on your food with a sharpie? These are not your college roommates. This is your new so-called “family home” and these girls are your fucking stepchildren! Now, why don’t you think of this as a golden opportunity. If they want to share your leftovers, then their stash of weed is completely fair game. Am I right?

Q. My wife and I have been to Le Bernardin six or seven times, and each time we had a sublime dinner with superb service. The last time we went, we asked one of her colleagues to accompany us (she picked up the tab), and it was disappointing. We were seated at a table beside a noisy wait station, and the wine steward (young and obviously inexperienced) brought out a warm bottle of white wine. When we pointed it out, he put it in a cooler for about 10 minutes, which was inadequate. I thought about writing to Eric Ripert about the experience, but because we were guests, I never did. Should we have said something to the owner?

A. First of all, I should make a few disclosures of some potential conflicts of interest in answering this question: Eric Ripert is a longtime friend and former lover; he exclusively provides me with free squid ink hair dye; and his wife’s “family gang” is hunting me down with knives for some remarks I made on Twitter.

Now, I do fucking hate it when my wine is not chilled properly. What did they expect you to do, put some fucking ice in it or some stupid shit like that? Jesus! This is what you should have done: summon the wine steward over, grab his left hand and force it into your glass. If the wine is warm enough to make him pee in his pants, then calmly ask for a new bottle.

Q. I have an infamously frugal friend who is known to eat out with our group of friends, order one entree and no drink to have a low tab. (We always get separate checks.) Yet she has this terrible habit of eating the appetizers that other people order, without contributing financially. Last month she not only wanted to try the expensive appetizer of one couple, but she also ate half of it. When the bill came, the frugal friend only put in for her entree, tax and tip. The couple ordering the appetizer didn’t say anything because they felt responsible for paying for it, since it was their idea to order it. I think that those who share in an appetizer should chip in a few bucks at check time commensurate with how much of it they eat. Is there a way to nip this kind of “appetizer entitlement” behavior in the bud next time, and who is the best person to speak up about it and at what point?

A. Make her pay or stop inviting her. Does this have to be so fucking complicated? Sometimes I wish I could just move to the country and eat (savory) matzo brei all day.

Ask RuBo: I Served Snacks at a Dinner Party But Complain About Other People’s Etiquette

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. I hosted a potluck dinner for a group of seven graduate school classmates (they are in their early-mid twenties). My husband and I provided snacks, light fare and wine. Most of the guests brought some form of alcohol (beer or wine). We opened the first wine that was brought in, but this was not a very drinking crowd, and by the end of the night we had finished just that bottle and some beers. After I was done cleaning up, my husband told me that as she was leaving, one of the wives took back the unopened bottle she and her husband brought. What?!?! Is this the new normal potluck etiquette, that you take back what you brought if it’s not eaten? Or is this as outrageous as it seemed to me?

A. Not as outrageous as the idea that you served “snacks” at a dinner party. Is this graduate school or preschool? if you serve people Goldfish crackers, you get what you deserve. And, don’t even get me started on “light fare.” What the fuck is that?

Q. A friend treated me to dinner at a somewhat pricey Italian restaurant I’m fond of, and I ordered the fish of the day, which was mahi mahi, and it was not inexpensive. When I took my first bite I knew I could eat very little of it as it was oversalted to a degree that made it inedible. I continued to nibble at it, but I left most of it. If I’d been paying for the meal and if my friend hadn’t already been served her meal, I wouldn’t have hesitated to ask to have another portion of fish brought to me, but I didn’t want to spoil the special occasion. Should I have gone ahead and asked the waiter to replace the meal?

A. It’s interesting that you think it would spoil dinner to send the fish back, yet it’s perfectly fine behavior to nibble at and push away the food your so-called “friend” paid for. Send the fish back. Just send it back.

Q. I love to travel, and I love to try the fine cuisine on offer in every city that I visit. However, I usually travel alone, and there are some dining experiences that are just better with company, not to mention the potential embarrassment of sitting alone at dinner or afternoon tea. How can I make the best of the food scene in a given city without creating an awkward situation?

A. You have a problem. There is nothing wrong with dining alone. But, it appears you need some serious help. One might bring a book to read, or a journal to record the experience, but you should seriously consider taking some (prescription or illicit) drugs to take the edge off. If this problem continues to persist, how about inventing an imaginary friend to be your dining companion (this will work even better with the drugs, by the way). For starters, imagine I’m your dinner date, but for fuck’s sake, remember, even imaginary RuBo refuses to split dessert. Capiche?

Ask RuBo: You’re Not Seriously Going to Eat “Veggie Ribs” Are You?

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. My friend has a horrible habit of e-mailing, texting and using instant messenger during cocktails and dinner. It’s horribly annoying when I’m speaking to her and she picks up the phone to respond to a message. What can I do?

A. So, what you are saying is she’s a fucking asshole. Now, wasn’t that easier?

Grab the phone and destroy it’s ability to function, whether that means stabbing it with a salad fork or tossing it into the lobster tank. Be inventive. 

Q. I’ve recently been invited to a good friend’s birthday celebration planned by her boyfriend. The boyfriend put together a barbecue and sent the following request:

Please bring veggie burgers, whiskey, veggie dogs, beer, veggie ribs, tequila, vegetables, ice, birthday presents/flowers. Not necessarily in that order. Oh, if you eat meat you can bring that too, no judgment! We will supply music, dancing, the birthday girl, guacamole.

I believe when you host a party, you should at least provide the basics. I have to admit, the boyfriend is out of work. In this case, I think it would’ve been more appropriate to say, “Hey guys, I’m throwing a barbecue, but I need some help with the fixings. Here’s what I need, can you pitch in?” His approach felt demanding and tacky, regardless of his employment status. Is my annoyance justified or am I being uptight?

A. Did you just say “veggie ribs”? I can’t believe we are even having this discussion. Just. Don’t. Go. And, never ever utter those two words again.

Q. I was raised to believe it was polite to offer a tablemate a taste but rude to request one. I eat out once a week with a friend. She always asks to try my selections, even for pretty basic dishes like a Caesar salad. If I offer to split our orders, she always demurs, saying she just wants “a little taste.” Then she shovels a heaping forkful into her mouth! I’ve started ordering identical meals to discourage this, but I am in the wrong?

Tired of sharing.

A. Wow. Double fucking wow. You actually order the same thing just to avoid dealing directly with this psychopath? I’m not sure who is more deranged.

Why is she shoving her fucking fork in your plate in the first place? You know, you could simply say “no.” Or, you could say “yes,” but then provide her a small taste (the size of your choosing) portioned out on your bread plate.

This isn’t fucking brain science, is it? Where in God’s name does the Times find these fuckers?

Ask RuBo: Don’t Take My Fucking Plate

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. What is the proper response when the waiter asks, “Are you still working on that?”

A. This is bullshit, and something I cannot fucking abide.

By the laws of the common law dining contract, the plate is effectively yours until it is licked clean.

The only way to respond is with physical force. A fork to the eye or maybe a butter knife to the balls. Possibly, a roundhouse kick. That usually sends the message.

Q. My dad is the cheapest person on the planet when it comes to tips. (He’s British, so that explains it.) But I am always horribly mortified when he leaves a 5 percent tip at a nice restaurant. What to do? Should I go back later and give them more money?

A. I’m sorry to have to be the one to break this to you, but your dad is an imperial douche. Gently remind him that America is no longer a colony of Britain, and that if he fails to leave at least the customary 15% tip, he greatly increases the likelihood of getting a fucking bayonet pierced through his throat.

Q. When we vacation in California the check is always left on the table before we ask for it, and we are not dallying. We are usually finishing our coffee. This happens in every restaurant. In New York this never happens — you get the check when you ask for it. Can you explain?

A. Is it odd? Yes. Is it uncouth? Certainly! Is it bad service? Of course. Do I give a shit? No.

It’s a bill for all the food you have eaten, including the coffee you are finishing, while you sit on your ass in their restaurant. They should have waited for you to ask for the check, but it’s the same damn bill, so who really gives a fuck? You still have to pay either way.

Ask RuBo: Open My Wine, Beyotch!

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.

Ask RuBo: I Was Raised By Some Uptight Fucks

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: My boyfriend has horrible table manners: using his fingers when it’s not appropriate, eating as if meals are a race, etc. Think of how a 4 year-old eats and you get the picture. I enjoy going to restaurants very much, but I’ve stopped suggesting going out because his bad manners are kind of embarrassing. Do you have any suggestions about what I can do to improve his table habits without making him feel self-conscious?

A. Don’t be such a fucking douchette. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating with your hands. Four year-olds eat quite well in my estimation: they don’t natter on about calories, they don’t waste time on idle conversation, and they don’t fucking complain about how their loved ones eat to a major newspaper.

Now, in terms of your comparison to a four year-old, I don’t give a shit about his eating with his hands, but I do draw the line at cutting his food for him or washing the sauce off his pasta. That would just be weird.

Q. Dear RuBo: I often dine with slow eaters, so when I finish I politely place my cutlery on my plate and wait for them to finish. I was always taught that plates should not be removed until everyone at the table is done. But a friend tells me I am all wrong, and that nobody should ever sit in front of a dirty plate. Who is right?

A. I hate those slow-eating assholes, but then again, why are you being so uptight? If your friends are not finished but you are, that means it’s time to drink some (more) absinthe. Enjoy yourself. Take it easy. Go ahead and pack a bowl with tangerine zest and smoke it. If he is really really taking too long, blow some smoke in his face, or, better yet, challenge him to a grasshopper-eating contest if he doesn’t finish quickly. That will scare him into finishing up. Works every time.

Q. Dear RuBo: I want to pay for dinner with my rich friend, who always picks up the check. I appreciate his generosity, but I genuinely want–at least one time!–to show him mine. How do I do it?

A. Who the fuck are you people? WTF? Just let your rich friend pick up the check and go to town! Marrow bones, foie gras sundaes, black truffle pies - the whole nine yards. Otherwise, if you are footing the bill, you know that you’ll end up splitting appetizers and sharing dessert or some kind of bullshit like that.

If you really want to reciprocate, you could make a simple gesture. And by gesture, I mean a blow job. No man has ever turned down one in the history of humankind.