DEAR MISS MANNERS: While I believe you've clarified that inedible parts of food are discreetly taken out the way they went in (fork or fingers), with the exception that, although fish is eaten with a fork, the fingers are used to remove bones from the mouth, I wonder if that applies to seeds. In particular, watermelon seeds.
Is it proper to spit out the seeds if you're at a picnic outdoors? Should you pick out as many seeds as you can before trying to eat a melon with a fork, with a spoon or like a cookie? At many of the buffets I frequent, the melon is sliced to be eaten by hand. Can I "gently spit" the seeds into my hand before depositing them on my plate? Sadly, most of the watermelons I consume are not seedless.
GENTLE READER: That's only sad if nobody ever invites you to a watermelon-spitting contest.
Until that happy time, you cannot practice spitting, even if you have not been issued any utensils with which to pick out the seeds. But perhaps Miss Manners is only quibbling over the word. You can deposit the seeds into your cupped hand, but the wind power necessary to do so must not be audible.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We invited 16 (adult) guests for a barbecue for the Fourth of July. We had hors d'oeuvres first, then I was making hamburgers and hot dogs, of course, and also ordered chicken and ribs from a local restaurant. There was plenty of food!!!
The chicken and ribs arrived about 20 minutes before I was ready to serve everything. One of my male guests came into the kitchen, went to the stove where the food was wrapped up and started picking at the chicken. I asked him if he could please wait till I was able to serve everything at once and this way we could all eat together.
He looked at me and said, "In my house, the guest is KING, and can do what they want."
Needless to say, I felt horrible, and apologized. I would always want a guest to feel comfortable in my home, yet I still felt that he was somewhat rude to keep picking at the food before I was ready to serve it. (Yes, he continued to take the chicken.) Who was right in this situation?
GENTLE READER: A less polite personage than Miss Manners would be tempted to try to exercise royal privileges at this person's house. You may be sure you would then hear no more about the guest being king. Instead, it would be "A man's home is his castle."
As with many adages, neither is quite true. Hosts are supposed to provide for the comfort of their guests, but guests are supposed to take or feign comfort in whatever is offered, however and whenever it is offered.