Since humans have no proper teeth of their own, they rely on a variety of slicing and stabbing weapons to break their food down into small pieces. This can be disconcerting for the visiting Gloabon, especially when it becomes apparent that hardly any food items on Earth are served while still alive. Rather than enjoy the thrill of the chase, the well-timed pounce, and that much-anticipated first bite, humans subject their livestock to an odd form of ritual slaughter.

I won’t go into details here, but suffice to say that no one enjoys the process very much, least of all the poor animals. The reason for this strange approach is possibly related to the fact that humans eschew the various reptiles on their planet, preferring to feast on large herbivores, many of which would stand a reasonable chance of emerging victorious from a fair fight.

The upshot of all this tomfoolery is that diners will often be forced to choose between several knives and forks for the same meal, but luckily, there is a simple rule to help. For each course, select one from each side, start with the outer pair and work your way inward. Having used all those at the sides of the plate, attack further courses with the tools positioned above the placemat.

This will stand you in good stead with any human host, but if there are any Andelians in your party, and some of our galactic neighbors are beginning to make the trip to Earth, be sure to wear several layers of suitably protective clothing. To an Andelian, an unsheathed knife is an invitation to indulge in a little target practice. So keep your head down, and be careful who you ask to pass the salt.

Having chosen the correct implements, stab the pronged instrument (a fork) into anything that looks vaguely edible, pin it down, and then lop off a chunk with a knife. Watching those around you may help you decide what is safe to eat, but if at this point you make a mistake, for example by jabbing your fork into something that turns out to be a table decoration, the host’s pet gerbil, or a the limb of a fellow diner, a simple apology will generally be accepted provided that your mouth isn't already full of one of the aforementioned items. Consuming any part of a host’s floral display/pet/husband is likely to signal the end of the meal, and no amount of compliments regarding the flavor and texture of the eaten item will revive the party. Make your excuses and leave, preferably by having yourself zinged back up to the space station.

A special note on salads. Although humans like their meat to be dead, they happily munch on plant material that is still alive. This is because humans have a lamentable sense of hearing, and they seem to be blissfully unaware of the cries for help that come from each hapless vegetable. You never forget the first time you hear a lettuce leaf scream, nor the woeful howling of a stick of celery as it is consumed piece by piece. However, humans will not thank you for pointing out the existence of these sounds, and they will almost certainly be annoyed if you give them a rendition of the plant-based cacophony. So if you don’t want to find yourself barred from every salad bar in town, keep quiet about the whole thing and do your best to blot out the noise.

Assuming you make it through the main courses without incident, you will experience one of the finest traditions that Earth has to offer, namely, dessert.

Puddings represent the culmination of all that is admirable on this blue planet. Indeed, the making of desserts may very well be the only effort that can unite the disparate factions of human civilization. Crammed with excessive calories, and laced with substances that work directly on the brain, desserts are worth crossing the galaxy for. There is no finer way to end a pleasant meal than to scoop up these sticky delights. Humans are better at desserts than almost anything else, with the possible exception of pollution, and even if you find the rest of your stay on Earth to be disorienting or even alarming, the time you spend alone with your puddings of choice will leave you with golden memories to savor for many years. Treacle, fudge, cherries soaked in something that would almost certainly be illegal back home: these are just a few of the mouthwatering treats that await your palate. With the exception of chocolate (see the notes on caffeine below) you should sample the myriad tastes that desserts have to offer. Enjoy.

And if your appetite is sated before dessert, never fear. Consuming food until you can barely move, while frowned upon on our planet, is not only accepted on Earth but actually expected and encouraged. So don’t worry, dig in!

After a really good dessert course, diners grip their bellies, capable of uttering only muted moans of pleasure, and at this point, you may be offered a strong cup of coffee.

This drink perks the humans up no end, but as I’m sure you’re all aware, caffeine has a number of effects on the Gloabon brain. At best, the likely outcome of your espresso will be undesirable, at worst, it will be catastrophic. Remember the Cappuccino Wars, my friends, and stay away from anything but the most thoroughly decaffeinated of decaf. You have been warned.

If you’ve made it to this point in the meal, congratulations. All that remains is the thin mint, and you’re good to go.

I’ll leave you for today. There’s a crème caramel with my name on it, and if anyone tries to pull that “two spoons” nonsense with me, there’ll be fisticuffs.

Until next time, peace and happy eating,

MYSABFL,

Rawlgeeb.

You may comment below, but any foolishness may well result in you receiving a visit from a member of the Earth Liaison Unit. You have been warned. Thank you.

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