DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a relative and her children came over to dinner, the children didn't like one particular dish they were served. When they asked their mother if they could be excused without eating it, she instructed them to bring it to me and say, "This is not to my taste."
It was clear that the mother felt she was teaching them polite company manners, but I was baffled. I would have been more comfortable if they had simply left the uneaten food without comment.
What is the correct thing for children (and adults) to do when they do not want to eat what they have been served?
GENTLE READER: What did the mother expect you to do? Take it back and apologize for the bad service?
Of course they should have been instructed -- preferably before they went out to dinner -- simply to leave the food uneaten and say nothing. Miss Manners gathers that the mother believes that the purpose of manners is to demonstrate consideration for oneself.