I’m not a big fan of sharing food. One look at my waistline will prove it.
I don’t like it when you’re in a restaurant with a group of people, and the food comes, and there’s this frenzy of plates and forks flying around the table because everyone insists you try what they’re having, or, worse, that you give them a taste of what you’re having, so that, in a few moments, you have so many different things on your plate, you forget what you ordered in the first place. I’m sure chefs are horrified at this activity because, really, if they thought the pistachio-encrusted sea bass went with the penne a la vodka and the duck with wild cherry sauce, they would have offered penduckass on the menu.
I also don’t like so-called “family-style” restaurants where the food comes on big platters that are meant to be passed around. You not only have to decide what you want, you have to put it up for a vote. Then you have to campaign for your selection, and someone always gets upset that their choice lost in the primaries, and then Ms. Jones gets mad at Mr. Jones for not supporting her choice, and then you get pissed because, while your fettuccini alfredo got elected, it ended up getting stuck at the other end of the table, and you really hate the appetizer selection that got passed in a bipartisan compromise which ended up pleasing nobody. Meanwhile, that idiot Millie always passes the plates back in the direction they came from so they never get to you, and that bastard Jim always takes too much, and soon everybody is angry at everybody else, and perhaps that’s why they call it “family style.”
But if there’s anything worse than large dishes meant for sharing, it’s small dishes meant for sharing. Lately, every restaurant we go into offers “small plates” or “tapas,” which is Spanish for “I’m still hungry.”
Well, first of all, they’re friggin’ appetizers, okay? I hate when institutions try to put one over on you by changing the name of something. It’s a prune, not a dried plum. The car is used, not pre-owned. The artist formerly known as “the artist formerly known as Prince” is still known as Prince and was really never not known as Prince, except maybe in his own mind.
With small plates, not only is there less food to share, there are more decisions to be made. Before you do anything, you and your dining companions have to agree if you’re each going to do your own thing, or if this is going to be a communal experience. If you decide on a bunch of small plates, you then have to figure out how many are adequate, and only then can you begin going through the election process. By the time the waiter comes, you’ve forgotten what you picked out so you have to do it all over again while the waiter stands there, pen poised over pad, with that condescending “these people are idiots” smile on his face.
Then the food comes, and every plate has either one fewer or one more item than there are people. You have to subdivide the three spring rolls so that the four of you each get 75% of a roll, and you all end up staring hungrily at the fifth sad-looking lobster dumpling left on the plate because nobody wants to take the last one. Eventually, someone will take half of the dumpling, then someone else will take half of the remaining half and so on, so by the time the plate gets cleared, there is a single lobster dumpling molecule left on it.
I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but I like to order and consume my own food. I’ll share a dessert with you, but only because it may be the only way I can get you to have dessert, and if no one else has dessert, I can’t order dessert. And I want dessert.
Otherwise, stop forking around with my dinner.
See you soon.