You’re in the process of trying to land a big contract, and suddenly a piece of food goes flying across the room and lands squarely on your prospect’s face. You stare horrified, hoping they didn’t notice. Then you watch as he calmly grabs his napkin, wipes it from his cheek and crumples up the sullied tissue, right along with your chances of winning his business. These are the consequences of ordering the wrong thing at a business lunch. And, while you might not always be able to avoid making an ass of yourself, Daily Fork is here to help give you some valuable pointers on the five items you should try to avoid ordering at all costs the next time you find yourself at an important lunch meeting.
1) French Onion Soup
French onion soup is delicious. But it’s the exact thing that makes it so delicious that also makes it such a dangerous item to order when you’re doing your best to impress. We’re talking, of course, about the ridiculous layer of molten hot cheese. Balancing the skillful spoon handling required to avoid leaving a dangling strand of cheese running all the way from your mouth to the bowl is difficult enough, but avoiding the embarrassing and excessive exhaling when you realize the bite you thought had finally cooled off is still approximately 1,000 degrees is damn near impossible.
2) Spaghetti (or any other pasta that requires twirling)
It takes a brave man to order spaghetti when he’s wearing a white shirt, and it takes an even braver man to order a plate full of noodles when he knows his eating is under close scrutiny. Even if you’re a total pro with the spoon/fork twirl, it’s still a high-risk endeavor. The possibility of coming across a few straggling noodles that need to be bitten off and pitifully plopped back onto your plate is just too high. Couple that with the far worse scenario of sauce splatter, and you’ve got yourself a food that’s better just avoided entirely.
3) Chicken Wings
The mere fact that chicken wings are on the menu would probably suggest this isn’t the fanciest restaurant. However, that doesn’t detract from the fact that tearing into a piece of meat with your bare hands doesn’t exactly portray you in the most refined light. Whether they’re fried or served with BBQ sauce, the main distinction is really only whether your hands are going to stink of grease or hickory sweetness. In either scenario, closing a deal with a handshake becomes increasingly less probable.
This item could really be expanded to include anything that can easily get stuck in your teeth. The only thing worse than finding out you’ve had a piece of leafy greens wedged between your front teeth for the past hour is being in the uncomfortable position on the other end of the table where you’re not sure if you should say something or just try to ignore it. You don’t want a prospect totally ignoring everything you say because all they can think about is that giant speck of food you’re “saving for later.” It’s best to err on the side of caution and stick with larger, less risky veggies.
5) Anything That Requires a Bib
We’re not knocking the idea of cracking crab or eating a whole lobster if you’re under the right conditions. In fact, if the person you’re dining with is willing to get their hands a little bit dirty as well, then all initial policies governing decorum are pretty much in his or her court as well. But, that being said, having someone you’re trying to impress stare across the table at you wearing a stupid-looking bib is definitely not the best way to earn respect. In fact, you’d probably be better off just writing “doofus” on your forehead in permanent marker.
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