When Is It Socially Acceptable to Share Food?


With certain friends, ordering repeats is not, under any circumstances, allowed at a meal. Two enchilada orders? Dear heavens, is this some kind of sick joke? Talk about a waste of another sharable dish. For others, sharing food is like sharing gum or toothbrushes. You kind of just don't go there, whether for germ-phobic or territorial reasons. The spectrum ranges from full plate-sharers to nibble-sharers to that food is freakin' mine, step off, anti-sharers.

Of course food-sharing varies by culture and upbringing, but for many Serious Eaters, the pro-smörgåsbord mentality allows you to try many things. (Though we can probably all agree that it's not cool to offer someone a taste, only to have them snatch it up like it's their last supper.) Where do you stand? And how do you handle the issue diplomatically?

The Mostly Pro Camp

"I have virtually no compunctions about stealing other people's food—unless it's, say, a formal interview over lunch. I don't mind if you steal off my plate, either, unless you snatch the last piece of sashimi. But that said, I tend to dine with like-minded friends." Carey

The Mostly Anti Camp

"I believe it was Socrates or some other ancient Greek dude who said, "Know thyself." In my book, that extends to menu choices. Don't even think you're going to get your grubby mitts on my morning scramble, apple crumble à la mode, or bowl of fancy-pants Japanese ramen. Going out with a group of foodos is the worst—I ordered a cheeseburger, not ONE-FOURTH of a cheeseburger. (Sharable dishes like pizza excluded of course.)" Adam