Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating - not just an exercise in chewing

Over the past few years (or let's face it - since I started blogging in 2005) I have taken to photographing and discussing at length the food that we eat in restaurants. The bf used to be quite reticent about the taking of flash photography in public spaces, so now I only snap when light allows. You see - I can compromise.

The majority of the time I'm snapping images of food that I love. Food that makes me want to cry and sing and never stop eating. Unfortunately there are those occasional times when the crying and singing turns into pouting and shouting. As I get older and evolve into more of a "foodie" of sorts I have increased expectations of my food outings - and my demands go beyond the ingredients on the plate to the cleanliness of the bathroom, the knowledge of the servers and the noise level of the dining room. Call me a Dining Room Diva. I can take it.

The worst and most legendary of our food outings occurred in Dublin a few years ago. We went to a pizzeria called Mustard's which was highly rated in our travel guide. We ended up being served cardboard box pizza with raw ingredients and pizza sauce that seemed to be infused with the oils of stale cigarette buts. On top of it all we had the nastiest 17 year old Dolores O'Riordan lookalike waitress and were charged over 60 euro's for this gastric disaster. Ugh, I still shake with rage remembering that unfortunate event.



In October we were lucky enough to travel to both San Francisco and New York City and - as tends to happen with us - we arrived our first night with an empty belly and no reservations. I hate it when this happens because we end up desperate, looking for whatever is palatable and close.
In New York this translated into a diner. The first one that we chose we ended up walking out of because in the words of my bf "there are too many organ meats on the menu for my liking". I concurred. Alas, we stayed on 7th Avenue and thus were destined to a menu that specialized in taking tourists hostage thus resulting in a $19 pastrami sandwich. Ugh, I still can't believe I engaged in such behavior. I had a hankering for pastrami (hence the diner obsession) but as soon as we ordered I said "this is going to be one of those meals that I regret forever". I was half right. My sandwich ended up being fairly delicious and immense, but for nineteen diner dollars I expect more than a plate lined with a pickle slice and half a teaspoon of coleslaw. Yes, in this case quantity counts. The bf was not so lucky with overcooked and under-seasoned veggie lasagna. He suffered in silence.

The issue at hand is not simply a matter of getting what I pay for - it's of not wanting to waste my time on awful or "good enough" food. If I'm out (especially if I'm traveling) I want to spend my time discovering hidden treats and enjoying every last bite and sip of every plate and cup on my table. My friend over at Bon Vivant said it best recently "... this gets back to the argument that we all work too hard for our money, and our time on this blue-green orb is too short to waste time with mediocrity like this."

Three cheers Bon Vivant, I knew I liked your dinner table for a reason. 

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