boarding house reach

boarding house reach

Table manners in which manners were sacrificed for survival. Most cities and towns had boarding or rooming houses, large private dwellings whose owners took in paying guests who usually stayed for relatively long periods of time. Dinners were served family style, with boarders joining the owners. If you were one of a large number of people, the choicest or largest amounts of food might be gone by the time the platters reached where you were sitting. And so, disregarding the good manners that you learned at home, rather than wait your turn or asking politely, you reached across the table—and often across your neighbors—to grab serving platters. That arm extension was known as a “boarding house reach
See also: board, house, reach