Have you noticed the latest fall-out from the “restaurant as theatre” syndrome? It seems now an expectation that the selection and consumption of food should be a communal experience. Forks fly and plates are shuttled back and forth in an attempt to “try” as many menu items as possible. To me this is somewhat tantamount to talking during a performance. Please be quiet and please remove your fork from my plate. I’d like to enjoy what I’ve selected without interruption please.
I am not anti-communal dining. I enjoy a good potluck or buffet. However there is something intrinsically self indulgent about dining out. Perhaps it is just my emotional make-up that makes me relish having someone prepare something for me that I know I’ll enjoy. I’m not interested in experiencing other people’s personal tastes or selections. I would like just 30 minutes or so to enjoy exactly what I asked for. Considering how rarely I dine out, I don’t feel too Veruka Salt saying this.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I’ve never been that great at group endeavors. I failed at the one-week session of Girl Scout day camp, begging my mother to allow me to quit. I was asked to leave Brownies after being inconsolable upon learning there would be no actual brownies. The very idea of a sorority made my chest constrict. I never did the “summer share.” In fact my number one goal as a young adult was to rid myself of roommates and live alone.
Before one makes the logical conclusion; “sociopath!!!!” let me assure you, I am very socially functional and a good little sharer. I toss books, clothes, shoes and advice, hither and yon. I take great pleasure in the daily opportunities there are for human kindness.
But when it comes to mealtime, I’m not sure I’ve ever graduated past the Bread and Jam for Frances phase of life. I (and my sister for that matter) could eat the same thing everyday for the remainder of our solid food lifetimes. My packed lunchbox is as exciting to me as a Faberge Egg. All morning I look forward to the predictable contents. And for the record, I have been known to share some of it as well.
I’m just not that interested in what others choose to eat. Make no mistake, I am thrilled to be invited to a homemade meal or catered affair. I am not harboring any Howard Hughes idiosyncrasies about what I ingest. It’s just that when I dine out, if it isn’t too much to ask, I’d rather not have the table turn into a giant lazy susan. All personal food choices aside, isn’t it simply more civilized to not play Red Rover, Red Rover over a white tablecloth?