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I'm from France and I've been educated with "eating manners" I consider "normal" (chew with your mouth closed, don't put your elbows on the table, wait until everyone is served before starting to eat...).

I'm OK with people that don't share theses "rules" though.

Thing is, my girlfriend's mother (their parents come 3/4 times per month) has the habit of eating with her mouth wide open. It's noisy, not very elegant (in my opinion) and that makes me slightly uncomfortable, but I'm okay dealing with it. She is very nice and generous otherwise, and I don't want her to be offended -- which she can easily be.

However, I'm afraid that this behavior might cause her trouble in other circumstances, and I think she might be unaware of her way of eating with mouth open: she told us a story about how she was eating a croissant in a café with a colleague, and she dipped her croissant in her coffee. The colleague responded to her in a rude way, saying stuff like "it's truly a shame to eat that way, I can't believe it, if I were you I'd be covered in shame...".

She keeps telling that story like a joke because the colleague would be the one who's wrong because dipping your croissant in the coffee is not that shameful, and in my opinion pretty common where we live. However, I'm seriously thinking that said colleague was rude because of the way she chews...

Now I'm worried that this issue might cause her more trouble: in her job, she will be more and more solicited to business meals or cocktails with people I'd qualify "classy".

Question

How can I tell someone that, in my opinion, eating with your mouth open might offend people you are eating with, and that I'm worried that this could disservice them?

Since this is like a "stepmother-stepson" relationship, we're not as close as family or friends, but still close, so I really don't want to be rude.


I already talked about this with my girlfriend, she's indeed at a better place to tell her. However, she is more reluctant than me to take the risk of being somehow offensive, and cares less about possible ways that this could, again, disservice her.

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    Is your girlfriend's mother from France? Or is she from a different culture where this may not be considered inappropriate? – Beofett Aug 23 '17 at 13:31
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    Ah, memories, the amount of times my mother got tongue twisted and inadvertently told me either "don't eat with your mouth full" or "don't talk with your mouth open"... – Grimm The Opiner Aug 23 '17 at 15:15
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    I stayed few weeks as a boy in France during an exchange program in a wealthy and well educated family. Everybody was eating with an open mouth. Actually we talked about this. The mom told me that in France everybody is a gourmet and food generally tastes better by eating with an open moth. The father, a university chemistry professor, added that oxidation would unlock more scents which contributes to the food's aroma. He concluded that it is bad manners to close the mouth during chewing as it wouldn't allow the food to develop it's full potential. the sounds were compliments for the cook. – VikingoS says Reinstate Monica Aug 23 '17 at 16:57
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    Why do you feel the need to "tell" someone what to do, or have someone do it for you? Your question is really veiled conformism. If someone offends someone else, it's their problem. – user3169 Aug 24 '17 at 5:46
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    Telling people not to do something because it may bring them some consequences elsewhere in life ("I'm fine with it, but what about ___?") rarely works out. – Euchris Dec 31 '17 at 20:25
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I think you should simply hold back (or wait until your girlfriend says something) because:

  • if your girlfriend is unwilling to mention anything to her, there are more negatives than there are positives. We know you're doing it from a good place by trying to prevent any further embarrassment with her doing so, but seemingly her mother doesn't seem to care too much.
  • You only see her 3 to 4 times a month and as you've stated "...I'm okay dealing with it"

Pros

  • She stops eating with her mouth open

Cons

  • She remembers this and it causes animosity between you and her.
  • She could take offense that you're saying it and not her own daughter.

Sometimes our in-laws, step-parents and other none intermediate family do things we don't like, but I don't think this is big enough of an issue for you to cause any potential animosity between you, grit your teeth and smile.

3

I used to eat with my mouth opened. This habit was changed by my colleague and I am sharing what she did which really worked. And I wonder if she checked this link for this.

First of all, don't tell it loudly and in front of everybody else because this might make that person feel hatred for you. If you really need to tell that while you're eating in a group, try telling him/her in a voice lower enough to let him/her hear.

Now, you can tell him/her like this.

I'm sure that you do not realize it, but you are eating with your mouth open. (Source)

or

I'm sorry, but it's kind of difficult for me to eat while seeing someone eating with their mouth open. Can you please not keep your mouth opened while eating?

Now, you've got to repeat it as long as it is necessary since it does not usually take too many attempts before he/she realizes that he/she is eating with opened mouth.

  • Please be certain to attribute any text you're quoting to the article as appropriate! It looks like some of your text is a direct quotation from there. – Catija Aug 23 '17 at 16:39
  • You still haven't attributed your quotes to the article. You link to the article but you have text in your answer that is identical to it but not attributed. Right now, the quoted section reads like its your own suggestion, but it's direct from the article and both "loudly and in front of everyone" and "too many rounds before they develop the self-consciousness" are direct from the article. – Catija Aug 23 '17 at 16:44
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If it's a cultural thing, and perhaps even regarded as more than acceptable, put the boot on the other foot. Consider that possibly she thinks you are strange/rude to be eating with your mouth closed. Also consider how you might feel if she brought up the subject, with you as the target, saying how she felt about your manner of eating.

There would seem to be no common ground here. Agree to differ, put up, shut up. Her future with clients/colleagues is her business. Maybe cut down the number of visits?

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