Dear Etiquetteer: At a brunch, is it improper when out at a restaurant or such to blow on your food to cool it?
Reading your query, Etiquetteer was reminded first that the reason Chinese teacups have no handles is because, if the cup is too hot to pick up, the tea is too hot to drink. So a certain amount of Restraint is involved is consuming hot food. It's what separates us from the animals.
It's generally accepted that blowing on hot food to cool it is less than Perfectly Proper. Cutting small bites of solid food allows it to cool faster. Not filling your soup spoon all the way, Etiquetteer considers, would act on the same principle.
What's worse than blowing on one's food, in a private home, restaurant, "or such," is calling attention to someone else's doing so. Few topics of discussion are as tedious at the table as table manners, not least because it promotes performance anxiety, which detracts from the real purposes of a shared meal, Camaraderie and Conversation. And yet there are those, doubtless plagued by little Imps of Satan, who are eager to point out each and every mistake that someone makes, either because they think it's funny, or deliberately to make trouble. Etiquetteer needs them to stop it at once.
Etiquetteer will conclude by sharing that the late Emily Post took vigorous exception to the word "brunch," describing it as "that singled-headed double-bodied deformity of language." Mrs. Post vastly preferred "breakfast," because it "has a break-of-day friendliness that brings to mind every degree of hospitality from country breakfasts to hunt-meets and weddings. 'Brunch' suggests 'standees' at a lunch counter but not the beauty of hospitable living."* To which Etiquetteer, who has attended many lovely and hospitable brunches, can only respond Autre temps, autre moeurs.
* From Etiquette, by Emily Post, page 497, copyright 1937. Used without permission.