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View Poll Results: Rude not to eat in front of people ?
Yes its rude not to eat, eating is a social activity! 16 12.60%
No its not rude, you shouldn't feel obligates if youre full 111 87.40%
Voters: 127. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 03-12-2011, 03:13 AM
Incubus Incubus is offline
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Rude to not eat in front of people?

Do you consider it rude if you go out to eat, and someone isnt hungry and doesn't eat anything? In the case of dining out, is it a faux pais in your culture if one of the guests doesn't order food?

For simplicity, lets say they aren't eating because they are full. So pickiness or passive agression isnt a factor. Rude?

Personally I dont consider it rude. If they are with me and not hungry, then they still enjoy my company and conversation. If they didnt want to see me eat they'd decline, also acceptible in my book.
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  #2  
Old 03-12-2011, 03:40 AM
Roland Orzabal Roland Orzabal is offline
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I suppose I shouldn't conflate the idea of rudeness with the ethical right of anyone else to give a damn, but to the extent that they differ, "rude" has no meaning beyond "some people pulled the idea out of their ass that others shouldn't do this and deemed themselves superior to those who didn't comply," so I'll stand by it.

Given that, no, of course it's not rude. What business of anyone else's is it whether or not I feel like eating? Perhaps they should save their judgment for something having the slightest semblance of an effect on them; I guarantee they'd be happier for it.

(Personally, as an ex-waiter, when I'm at a sit-down restaurant but don't order anything, I'll leave a tip as table rent...but this is Server Karma and I certainly wouldn't expect it of anyone else.)
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  #3  
Old 03-12-2011, 05:05 AM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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Not rude, but could be a little weird depending on the situation. If everyone agrees to go out to dinner, but then at the place, one person announces they are not hungry and won't be ordering, that's a little weird.

If, however, during the planning stage, one person said they weren't hungry, but that they would like to hang out, it's not weird. Like a lot of social situations, the better you know the other person, the less awkward it is.
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  #4  
Old 03-12-2011, 05:39 AM
Shakes Shakes is offline
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Originally Posted by madmonk28 View Post
Not rude, but could be a little weird depending on the situation. If everyone agrees to go out to dinner, but then at the place, one person announces they are not hungry and won't be ordering, that's a little weird.

If, however, during the planning stage, one person said they weren't hungry, but that they would like to hang out, it's not weird. Like a lot of social situations, the better you know the other person, the less awkward it is.
Yeah. If you go to a concert with a group of friends, then after the concert make a last minute decision to go eat, it wouldn't even ping my radar.

If however, the main event of the evening is to go out to eat at place "X", then yeah, that's beyond weird, but not rude.
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  #5  
Old 03-12-2011, 07:04 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Could be lots of reasons - not feeling well, keeping kosher, upset stomach, having to fast etc - so it's not necessarily rude. It all depends upon how the person not eating presents themselves. "I'm sorry, guys, but I've got a dicky tummy so I'm going to have to enjoy the food vicariously." is going to go down rather better than silence.
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  #6  
Old 03-12-2011, 07:15 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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I do this a lot. I was obese, and one of the things that kept me from losing weight was that I hated to give up social events. Realizing I could just NOT EAT was a real revelation. My rules: always tell people in advance that you aren't eating (in response to an invite "I'm not hungry, but I'd love to go along and enjoy your company" sort of thing), always order coffee or a soda so that you have something in front of you (this makes people more comfortable) and never, ever, ever comment on other people's meals beyond "That looks great". The last rule is because people feel compelled to share if they think you are angling for a bite, and it's just awkward.
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  #7  
Old 03-12-2011, 08:34 AM
Sattua Sattua is online now
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I grew up in a family that was constantly scrutinizing what I ate, when I ate, how much I ate, and how I ate it. As a result I'm extremely self-conscious about food. Eating in front of someone else who isn't eating really bothers me.

I think that if the person isn't hungry, they can at least order a drink to fuss around with while everyone else is eating... preferably an appetizer. I don't think I'm the only person in the world who feels the way I do, and the definition of "rude" is making other people feel uncomfortable... so... yes, I do find it rude. Not in the getting-outraged way, but in the makes-me-want-to-crawl-into-a-dark-hole way.
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  #8  
Old 03-12-2011, 08:41 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is online now
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Originally Posted by Sattua View Post
I grew up in a family that was constantly scrutinizing what I ate, when I ate, how much I ate, and how I ate it. As a result I'm extremely self-conscious about food. Eating in front of someone else who isn't eating really bothers me.

I think that if the person isn't hungry, they can at least order a drink to fuss around with while everyone else is eating... preferably an appetizer. I don't think I'm the only person in the world who feels the way I do, and the definition of "rude" is making other people feel uncomfortable... so... yes, I do find it rude. Not in the getting-outraged way, but in the makes-me-want-to-crawl-into-a-dark-hole way.
Is it rude if you do it the way I do, explaining in advance that you won't be eating? Because in that case, my other alternative would often be to decline without explanation: ""I can't afford to eat there" and "I can't have the calories" (my two main reasons) are not really socially acceptable information, and persistently turning down social invitations also seems rude. I am not trying to be catty--just trying to figure out how to deal with the social quagmire without making anyone uncomfortable.
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  #9  
Old 03-12-2011, 08:46 AM
faithfool faithfool is online now
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Nope, not rude. You should only eat when you want to.
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  #10  
Old 03-12-2011, 08:50 AM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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I don't like to eat a lot during the day. If I have a whole meal in my stomach, I seriously need to go lie down while it digests. When the girls in the office used to go out to lunch, they would tuck into enormous salads, sandwiches with fries, and go back to work refreshed and energized, and I don't know what's wrong with me, but I cannot eat a lot during the day. My solution was to order a drink, iced tea or Coke, and a cup of soup and take a sip now and then, or a small side salad to toy with. I could handle a 'little something', and didn't have to go through the wearying explanation of WHYYY I was sitting there not eating.
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  #11  
Old 03-12-2011, 09:17 AM
kapri kapri is offline
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I hope it's not rude, because I do this all the time. I'm always watching my weight and am careful about what I eat, and so much restaurant food contains tons of hidden calories. I always get a drink, though--often a glass of wine or two, which in the end costs at least as much as the food my friend is eating.
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  #12  
Old 03-12-2011, 09:33 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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Eating out is a social activity, and generally I would find it better if you ordered a small salad or something to nibble on.

In the Chinese culture, it would be really rude to not eat. Of couse, with Chinese family style (shared dishes with food that everyone then serves to themselves), it's easy to take miniscule portions and pace yourself.
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  #13  
Old 03-12-2011, 10:15 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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No, not in general, but I can understand why it seems rude:

In certain situations at least, it is rude to eat in front of other people who aren't eating, at least without offering to share, or getting their permission. So if you go out to eat with someone and then don't eat, you're putting them in the awkward position of eating in front of you, while you just sit and watch them eat.
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  #14  
Old 03-12-2011, 10:22 AM
SanVito SanVito is offline
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I think it depends on the place and circumstance. Meet friends down the pub where some order food and some don't? No problem. Drop into a casual pizza place after the cinema? Fine. Meet in a posh restaurant for my birthday where the meal is the main focus? Problem. Come round to my house for a dinner party? You're going to eat every scrap whilst loudly proclaiming my ability to turn out Michelin starred fayre whilst effortlessly dripping with glamour.

In all seriousness, if the meal is the main event, it's been long planned, the restaurant is full and fairly smart, then I would think it was rude, as much to the restaurant as to the other guests.
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  #15  
Old 03-12-2011, 10:33 AM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Is it rude if you do it the way I do, explaining in advance that you won't be eating? Because in that case, my other alternative would often be to decline without explanation: ""I can't afford to eat there" and "I can't have the calories" (my two main reasons) are not really socially acceptable information, and persistently turning down social invitations also seems rude.
While saving up for an expensive trip, my partner and I were often in the position of having to decline dinner invitations for the "can't afford it" reason. If the dinner itself was the main event, we would have to decline but with the caveat "... but we'd love to meet you for coffee afterwards!" We did our best to try to continue being social, so it was clear that we weren't avoiding anyone's company.
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  #16  
Old 03-12-2011, 10:37 AM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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The point of etiquette is to make people feel comfortable and reduce awkwardness. I think Manda Jo's method does a wonderful job of politely declining food without making anyone feel uncomfortable.
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  #17  
Old 03-12-2011, 10:50 AM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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If I'm really not hungry I might just order something small (someone mentioned a salad upthread) and pick at it/go through the motions of eating. Like someone nursing a drink. Not really eating but fulfilling the social contract as it were.
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  #18  
Old 03-12-2011, 01:35 PM
BigBertha BigBertha is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I do this a lot. I was obese, and one of the things that kept me from losing weight was that I hated to give up social events. Realizing I could just NOT EAT was a real revelation.
Also, you get to do most of the talking!
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  #19  
Old 03-12-2011, 01:38 PM
chizzuk chizzuk is online now
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No, not rude.

What IS rude, however, is declaring you're not hungry, not ordering anything, and then grazing off the plates of people who did order. Drives me nuts. I ordered (and paid for) the damn fries for myself, thanks. If I want you to have any, you'll have to wait until I've finished and see if there's any left. If you want them anyway, then order your own.
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  #20  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:14 AM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
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The only time it's rude is if the meal is the entire point of the event, and it's been long planned. It seems to me that if you have a month's notice, you should be able to save up extra $$ and extra calories so that you can order at least a small meal with the group.

If it's casual and part of a larger group of events? No worries at all.
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  #21  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:36 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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I wouldn't exactly say rude, but it is alienating both to the person who doesn't order and to the one(s) who do.
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  #22  
Old 03-13-2011, 07:04 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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The one time it happened to me was when I chaired a committee and we met over dinner (I had been a member of the committee for several years and this was SOP--it made membership more bearable). It turned out that one of the new members was strictly kosher. He eventually ordered ice cream when the rest of us got desert. I didn't think it rude but it left me distinctly uncomfortable. The next two years, we didn't have dinner meetings and then I was gone so I have no idea if they resumed when he left--probably not.
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  #23  
Old 03-14-2011, 04:37 AM
phantom lamb phantom lamb is offline
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For me it's always the opposite. When I go to a cafe with a bunch of friends, I know we're all supposed to just order a drink. But I'm the only one who always orders food along with it too, and I wonder how that makes me look. Wonder if it's rude to be the only one who orders food
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  #24  
Old 03-14-2011, 04:54 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by China Guy View Post
In the Chinese culture, it would be really rude to not eat.
More like horrifying. (as I'm sure you know) A lot of people around here are just a generation or two away from times of, if not starvation, really really bad hunger. If you turn your nose up at food that such folks are now offering to share with you, it's like you're throwing the whole table in their faces or something. Only a bit of hyperbole: even nowadays the common greeting in Chinese & Taiwanese is not "hello," but "have you eaten yet?"

Between this and being expected to take your shoes off when you enter someone's house, I've come to believe that your average free spirited American would have their heads explode in short order in this society.
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  #25  
Old 03-14-2011, 06:37 AM
beartato beartato is offline
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I do it all the time. I react poorly to onions - contained in nearly every restaurant food item - and find most restaurant food ridiculously unhealthy, greasy, and lacking in vegetables. But I always forewarn people when the plans involve a restaurant that I'll probably just order drinks.

Of course, as has been pointed out, I would never just not order at a fine dining restaurant, or at a dinner when the whole point is to be eating. For dinner at the French Laundry and Alinea and Le Chateaubriand and many others, I ate without worrying too much about the onions or the amount of butter, and the dinners were amazing. But I'm not going to eat for the sake of eating when it's just a pub with friends and I don't really enjoy any of the food.
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  #26  
Old 03-14-2011, 08:47 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubus View Post
For simplicity, lets say they aren't eating because they are full. So pickiness or passive agression isnt a factor. Rude?
It's rude to fill yourself up to the point that you can't eat a single bite when you're planning to go out to eat with people, unless you've told them in advance that that's what you're going to do. You should leave enough room to be able to eat something.

Last edited by Acsenray; 03-14-2011 at 08:49 AM..
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  #27  
Old 03-14-2011, 09:12 AM
Mops Mops is offline
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My take: not rude in the sense that others would be entitled to take offense, but rude in the sense that you'd best avoid it, to minimize awkwardness.

I don't recollect the situation of the OP (being full at the start of a social meal) ever having occurred to me - social eating occasions don't usually occur suddenly for me; I can schedule time/portions of my other meals so as to be able to do justice to the occasion. (e.g. yesterday I met with friends where one had baked a cake for tea and another had prepared homemade pizza for dinner - you bet I took care not to arrive already sated).

If I were ever caught out in such a situation I'd order an inexpensive appetizer and a glass of water, and make them last. When people had prepared food themselves, I'd eat a polite portion or perish in the attempt.
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  #28  
Old 03-14-2011, 09:15 AM
Doug K. Doug K. is offline
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What if you're a Kreetassan?
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:36 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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As Lora Brody wrote in her book on entertaining: For any number of reasons, a guest may refuse your offer of a drink. The reason doesn't have to be explained to anyone, including you.

I think that applies to food too. I know a woman who eats the same things every day: bagel and coffee for breakfast, a pint of frozen dessert for lunch, and a big vegetable salad for supper. If she can't find what she wants when we eat out, she doesn't eat.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 03-14-2011 at 09:37 AM..
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  #30  
Old 03-14-2011, 09:41 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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To me, "eating is a social activity" and "the whole point is to be eating" are mutually exclusive propositions. Socialization is supported by eating and drinking together, but it mostly takes place in the interstices, not when everybody's mouths are full. It seems that the "rude" element of not-eating or not-drinking in such a context comes from the unequal position of the participants; the non-eater has no parallel activity to modulate their conversation and open spaces for their companions.
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  #31  
Old 03-14-2011, 09:53 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Seems to me a bit like going to someone's Super Bowl party and bringing along a book to read.
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  #32  
Old 03-14-2011, 10:07 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland Orzabal View Post
(Personally, as an ex-waiter, when I'm at a sit-down restaurant but don't order anything, I'll leave a tip as table rent...but this is Server Karma and I certainly wouldn't expect it of anyone else.)
Not an ex-server here, but if I'm not eating I'll at least order a beverage and leave a tip. For much the same reason.

I try to be good to the wait staff. After all, they're people, too, and have to put up with the general public.

But, between trying to stay at a normal weight and my dietary restrictions for medical reasons I simply won't put up with someone trying to force food on me in the name of "politeness". "Polite" is not forcing people into weight problems, risking their health, or imposing your culture on them.*


* Yes, I realize there probably are a few exceptions to the latter - but they're relatively rare and would be something like a wedding or traditional/custom-bound event that you'd probably know about before showing up.
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  #33  
Old 03-14-2011, 10:13 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
More like horrifying. (as I'm sure you know) A lot of people around here are just a generation or two away from times of, if not starvation, really really bad hunger. If you turn your nose up at food that such folks are now offering to share with you, it's like you're throwing the whole table in their faces or something. Only a bit of hyperbole: even nowadays the common greeting in Chinese & Taiwanese is not "hello," but "have you eaten yet?"

Between this and being expected to take your shoes off when you enter someone's house, I've come to believe that your average free spirited American would have their heads explode in short order in this society.
Well, given THAT social context I'd of course take my shoes off and eat at least a token amount of something. Fortunately, I can eat most Asian foods without requiring a trip to the emergency room.

(Heck, I take my shoes off as soon as I get into my own house, no biggie)
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  #34  
Old 03-14-2011, 03:51 PM
overlyverbose overlyverbose is offline
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It depends on the situation, and SanVito's comment pretty much expresses how I feel about it.

Most eating out seems like it's a social situation, though, and I'd probably expect that, even if the person weren't eating, at least they'd order a cocktail or soda or something other than water while I ate.

Part of that is just baggage, though. I do NOT like to eat in front of people if no one else is eating. It makes me extremely, extremely uncomfortable.
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  #35  
Old 03-14-2011, 04:22 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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The only time I think it's rude is when I'm with one or two friends and ask them, say while we're in the car driving home, "want to stop at Armando's/IHOP/Applebee's/wherever?" and they say "sure!" and only when we arrive do I discover that they don't plan on actually eating anything.

In fact, it pisses me the fuck off. Yes, I get it, maybe you don't want to spend a lot of money eating. But you could have just fucking said "no". Thankfully they haven't done it after I've made my feelings known to them.

Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 03-14-2011 at 04:23 PM..
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  #36  
Old 03-14-2011, 04:47 PM
Maiira Maiira is offline
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I've done that before...but it was one of those incidental "hey let's go to Perkins!" on-the-fly type activities. It was after prom, and they'd served us food there...food my stomach wasn't really all that sure about. So when I went out afterwards, I ordered a cup of tea, and nibbled on a fry or two when a friend offered me some. No one batted an eye.

So put me in the "not-rude" camp, though like others have said, it's a bit weird when the eating is the point of the activity.
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