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Is it rude to hide the salt shaker from your guests?

A good host will offer salt and pepper if a guest asks for it.

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The question

I hate it when people season the meal I've made them before they've even tasted it. Would it be rude to hide the salt and pepper until people ask for it?

The answer

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Rude, not exactly, but depending on your cooking, it could be highly lame. Most home cooks - even otherwise excellent ones - underseason almost everything, and underseasoned food invariably sucks.

So, while you're not obliged to put salt and pepper on the table, you should never begrudge a guest who asks for it (even great chefs like Thomas Keller send out the shakers if a diner asks).

And more important, when you're cooking, aim for a total salt ratio of about 1.5 per cent by weight (this works out to about 25 millilitres per kilo of food for Diamond Brand Kosher Salt). Be sure to taste everything before you serve it.

And if you're afraid of sodium, ease up on tinned soups and the All-Bran (the stuff's a salt bomb, FYI). You'll have plenty more room for the good stuff when it counts.

Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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