Woman refuses to allow guests to eat before she does: 'It's rude to start eating before the cook gets served'

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

My ex-husband and I were visiting a family member who had just bought an antique waffle iron and was eager to try it out for the first time. She offered to make waffles for everyone, five of us in total.

We eagerly accepted her offer. Fresh hot homemade waffles? Sign me up, please.

There was only one problem: I didn't realize we weren't allowed to eat until everyone had been served, including the cook. When my hot waffle hit my plate, I immediately set about jabbing it with my fork.

"No, you can't eat yet," our host shouted. For a brief moment, I expected her to take my plate away from me. I was baffled. Had I done something wrong? I had no idea.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because," she snapped, "it's rude to start eating before the cook gets served."

I had never heard of this before. Were we all supposed to eat stone-cold waffles once our host had finished painstakingly making waffles in an antique waffle maker one at a time?

Yes. Yes, we were.

I was raised by a woman who was the complete opposite. The moment the first plate of food hit the table, she encouraged us to start eating.

"Eat. Eat," my mother would say... and still does. "Don't wait for me. There's no need to let your food get cold. Everyone eats with their own mouth."

I can see both sides of the argument. Obviously, I lean more toward my mother's way of looking at it. Why should everyone else eat cold food? It doesn't make any sense.

Then again, I can see the respect aspect of waiting, especially when you're waiting for the person who was kind enough to handle all the responsibilities of cooking alone... but was she the only one who deserves a warm waffle?

Is that the way they did things 150 years ago when the waffle iron was new and families may have consisted of a dozen kids waiting for hot/cold waffles? One hot waffle and eleven cold ones?

I'm still conflicted. Quite frankly, I don't think I'll ever know the answer.

It's the same with restaurants. Should you wait until everyone is served before you start to eat, or should you let your food slowly grow cold while the last person at the table is waiting for their sizzling steak fajitas to arrive?

What do you think? Is it rude to eat before the last person is served, or was it rude to expect four out of five people to eat ice-cold waffles so no one would start eating before our host? I'm genuinely curious about what you did in your family growing up. Comments are welcome.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Massachusetts State

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