Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Art of Sharing Food

Any foodie worth their salt knows that when you go out to eat, you should order family style.  Sharing maximizes tasting potential, and avoids the inevitable quandary of whether to order that delicious pork-belly with butter-sauced morels, or the potentially equally delicious gorgonzola gnocchi with toasted walnuts. Mmmmmmmm.  Order/eat both!

There is nothing worse than the awkward experience of dining with a "non-sharer" - someone who looks askance at the suggestion of sharing and proceeds to order, all for themselves, a huge entree that couldn't possibly be consumed by a single person anyways!  While the rest of the table exchanges plates and comments on the flavors with gusto, the lone-orderer huddles in the corner and suspiciously hoards his or her precious meal.

Worse is the scenario in which you go to dine with one other person who insists on order the SAME meal that you have just ordered!!! This is completely unacceptable foodie behavior unless one of you has a grave communicable disease, or the rest of the menu is disgusting (in which case, why are you eating there to begin with??).

Of course, there are certainly scenarios in which food-sharing is neither desirable, nor acceptable.  For instance, I object to requests for bites of my sandwich, licks of my ice-cream, or tastes of my teeny-tiny truffle that barely serves one person (unless we have previously agreed to share this particular morsel).   Sandwiches are absorbent, carefully balanced affairs.  Unless I'm already swapping saliva with the "sharee" on a regular basis, I don't want the edges of my sandwich bread moistened by someone else's saliva, nor do I want them spilling all of my avocado and tomato out before I've finished enjoying my meal.  The saliva argument also holds for the ice cream cone.  After someone else's warm tongue has melted the side of your ice-cream so that the drips dribbling down the side of the cone are mixed with stranger-saliva, the whole treat just loses its appeal.  Asking for a lick of ice cream is like asking to borrow my toothbrush!  Gross!  And one should never take the last bite or sip of another's delicious meal or beverage (nor should one take a GIANT bite of someone else's minuscule treat).  Just the other day I purchased an adorable, mini peanut butter cupcake to savor during the long hours of professional responsibility, and as I walked to class, I was overcome with anxiety that some uncouth person would ask for a bite!  I even contemplated scarfing down the little morsel before heading to my seat to prevent such a tragedy.  There are subtle ways, however, to deter efforts at misguided sharing.  So, while I encourage you to order family style when dining out, you can follow these tactics when you want to preserve the integrity of your sandwich, or when your truffle is just too good to share:

When eating something delicious:
1. Do NOT comment on its deliciousness!  This will encourage responses of, "oooh, can I have a bite?"
2. Do not try to feign disgust.  This might seem like a good course of action, but believe it or not, it might encourage your fellow diners to ask for a bite just to see how gross your food tastes.  This sounds counter intuitive, but think about it, how often do you take a big whiff of the air after someone says, "Ew, what's that smell?" Same concept.
3. Do claim that you have a cold, or even better, claim that you have a festering cold sore in your mouth.  No one will want to share with you.  Downside - people will think you have herpes.
4. Preemptively provide a crumb to deter requests for larger portions.
5. Eat your food in a really gross manner, e.g. slobbering all over your sandwich, or smearing it around on your plate.  If someone still wants a bite, give them the cold, wet corner of the bread (that might be too gross to actually go through with...).
6. Tell the requester you are diabetic, and that you must eat the entire portion to prevent a hypoglycemic coma.
7. Be a true evil biatch and just say NO.

Recipes to follow shortly... a.k.a after finals!

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