boardinghouse reach

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So called because the lodgers at a boardinghouse, dining at the same time, might have to reach past each other for dishes and condiments.


boardinghouse reach (plural boardinghouse reaches)

  1. The ability to reach a long distance across a table to get desired food.
    He developed his boardinghouse reach in the oil fields.
    • 2003, Judy Barnes, Jolane Edwards, Carolyn Lee Goodloe, Coasting: An Expanded Guide to the Northern Gulf Coast, page 38:
      There is nothing contrived about this restaurant — it is strictly the basics — good food, good service, and good prices. All you need is a good boardinghouse reach and if you don't have one, then ask for the food to be passed.
  2. The act of reaching across a table to get desired food, often considered poor etiquette because it invades others' personal space.
    • 2005, Peggy Post, Collins Gem: Emily Post's favorite party & dining tips, page 102:
      Avoid the boardinghouse reach. Reach for something only within the invisible boundary that separates your personal space from the other diners'.