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WHY is it considered rude to eat in the street?

(106 Posts)
policywonk Fri 02-Oct-09 20:55:40

Following on from another thread... I've never understood the thinking behind this (in fact, I'd never heard it at all until I was in my twenties).

Is it a middle class thing? Is it because street food is considered to be the preserve of the poor (I know this is the case in some developing countries)?

I can understand why it's inconsiderate to eat strong-smelling foods in enclosed spaces, but other than that I'm bemused by this one.

hf128219 Fri 02-Oct-09 20:58:25

In it's basic terms it's all about good manners. You shouldn't don't wee in your garden. You wee in the loo. You eat in the kitchen/dining room. And so on and so forth.

castille Fri 02-Oct-09 20:59:09

Dunno, but one of my old school rules was that eating in the street was a hanging offence

We all ignored, of course, and chewed cola bottles with our mouths open all the way home

LynetteScavo Fri 02-Oct-09 21:01:59

Because you eat sitting down at the table, not wondering around.

It depends on circumstances, though, doesn't it? hmm

policywonk Fri 02-Oct-09 21:02:46

Maybe... do you think that's the explanation? I mean, there are other good reasons for not weeing in the street (it can be a health hazard, causes unpleasant smells and breaks a few taboos around privacy and nudity). But there aren't really any good reasons for not eating on the street, so long as people aren't throwing food debris around.

randomeuro Fri 02-Oct-09 21:04:51

Its a UK thing though isnt it? I have lived in the UK, Spain, France, Italy and now Switzerland and its only in the UK that there seems to be a problem

SolidGoldBrass Fri 02-Oct-09 21:05:19

There isn't any good reason to object to eating on the street as long as people dispose of their litter properly. I think this comes from the same loopy school of useless rules as the one about having to wear a hat or gloves when it's neither cold nor raining.

castille Fri 02-Oct-09 21:06:38

The French are funny about it. Strangers (usually the elderly) may will raise an eyebrow and wish you a bon appetit, partic if it's not actually mealtime (gasp)

Ponders Fri 02-Oct-09 21:07:12

Me too, pw.

My mother had a huge thing about this, even though she was working class & we lived on a council estate. (And I wasn't allowed to play on the front doorstep. She was a terrible social-climbing snob.)

After she died I found a letter from a GI she had gone out with during the war, about what fun they'd had walking down the street eating chips out of the paper like a couple of kids hmm


Catzee Fri 02-Oct-09 21:07:13

I don't get it either. I think it's an old-fashioned thing.

Tortington Fri 02-Oct-09 21:07:29

you can't buy a graggs sausage roll - then take it home to eat - that's just madness. it must be consumed immediatley.

randomeuro Fri 02-Oct-09 21:07:58

Really Castille, I never found the French to be funny about it (in Paris)

randomeuro Fri 02-Oct-09 21:09:20

sorry should have been really castille? Looks a bit rude otherwise, not my intention.

daftpunk Fri 02-Oct-09 21:13:35

it always looks really common to me....

associated with poor people who are used to eating with their fingers...

halfcut Fri 02-Oct-09 21:15:33

I love wandering about chomping a steakbake [common]

hf128219 Fri 02-Oct-09 21:18:48

I am a true toff and love to munch on the move. And wee in the garden grin

MagNacarta Fri 02-Oct-09 21:19:43

You should be sitting at a table to eat, walking around the streets doing it is so far removed from the acceptable way to eat that it implies that you don't know how to behave.

castille Fri 02-Oct-09 21:19:50

In cities full of frantically busy people and students it's become ok, but in rural villages the old folk will stare and frown

LynetteScavo Fri 02-Oct-09 21:20:24

Yes, but castille, French men think nothing of weeing in the street.

differentWitch Fri 02-Oct-09 21:21:15

I find it distasteful to be walking along and having people walking towards me with a pasty/sandwich in their hand with huge chunks taken out of it while they're spitting morsels of food everywhere when talking to the person they are with, all they time waving what they have in their hand around.
It looks horrendous, food gets dropped on the floor, it also makes people look like greedy so-and-so's who have no self control to wait until they are sat down to eat, plus they are likely to come wondering in to shops eating curry and chips/ pasty with their fingers and touching the clothes after they have just shovelled another mouthful in. so grease marks/ food stains mark the clothes which then have to be reduced or they wont sell.

However those are just my personal opinions.

Rant Over.

LynetteScavo Fri 02-Oct-09 21:21:30

But maybe that's just Parisiens.

Ponders Fri 02-Oct-09 21:24:11

daftpunk, you utterly superior DM-reading person, do you never ever ever eat a chocolate bar, or apple on the move?

What is the difference between those and a Greggs sausage roll, or bag of chips?

(I would draw the line at a roast dinner...)

wasabipeanut Fri 02-Oct-09 21:25:39

I have a bit of a thing about this actually. Eating is civilised by the ritual of sitting down, using nice plates, cutlery etc. It's about the ritual as much as the food. When you decouple food from the rituals that accompany it you could just be any animal filling its face.

Eating in the street shows a lack of respect for what you are eating IMO. Given that it's usually crappy food that gets eaten in such a manner that isn't terribly surprising.

I'm not a snob really

EccentricaGallumbits Fri 02-Oct-09 21:26:00

Terribly terribly bad manners. just not the done thing.

defineme Fri 02-Oct-09 21:26:30

My fil was a policeman (retired 20 yrs ago) and the other day my mil reported to me in a horrified tone that she's seen 2 police officers drinking water *in the street* -btw this was in very hot weather.

I only realsied it was thought impolite to eat in the street when I was about 12 and reading a book called 'summer term' about boarding school girls.

Are ice creams from a van ok?
What about picnics?

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