DEAR MISS MANNERS: Once, when I was invited to a dinner party, all of us thanked the host/cook after we were seated and started eating. The food wasn’t great, but the other guests started complimenting the host on a delicious meal. I didn’t say anything, because I felt it would be dishonest.
Recently, I found myself in a similar situation: My partner prepared dinner, and I thanked him before we started eating. After dinner, he complained that I don’t compliment his cooking the same way he does mine.
I told the story about the dinner party, and he felt offended. What should I have done in both cases? I chose to keep quiet rather than being dishonest.
GENTLE READER: Well, you are not likely to have the problem again, as that is probably the last dinner your partner is going to cook for you.
It is an odd sense of morality that prohibits encouraging people who have tried to be nice to you. And there are many ways to do so.
Of course, the unfortunate cook should not have asked. But as he did, couldn’t you have come up with something better than a comparison with another bad cook? There are things you can say without using the mendacious word “delicious”: “You’re right; I shouldn’t take you for granted. I do think you are wonderful,” for example, or, “Oh, but this has been a wonderful evening.”