Today is a fancy supper day. Though, to be fair, any meal not eaten alone or involving microwaves is pretty fancy these days.
My best friend Richard is taking me out for a belated birthday dinner. We’re in a situation where we’ve known each other so long (almost 18 years) that we don’t really do big gifts anymore – we just buy each other fairly swanky meals out. Which is fabulous, because he thinks I’m impossible to buy for (though, he has bought me onion goggles and slippers on the last two occasions), and we both really like to eat things.
He is more of a ‘foodie’ (though we both kind of hate that word) than I am, and slightly more adventurous (unless a foodstuff involves pickles). He might know the etiquette a bit better too, due to his foray into Gallic living when he was a teenager. But even if you aren’t a fancypants, I highly recommend the odd nice meal out, especially somewhere that does small plates, so that you can try new and exciting things in small bits.
I’m also no etiquette or gourmandising maven, but I do have some tips:
- Going to a fancypants place (or even a moderately nice one) if you are an extremely fussy eater who is unwilling to try new things is probably not a great idea. An open mind is essential.
- There are nice places that cater to vegetarians, and a lot of places have an array of vegetarian options, so choosing a restaurant with a meat-heavy menu and then complaining that you can’t eat anything is kind of silly. (Similarly, saying ‘I don’t trust a restaurant that doesn’t have steak on the menu’ is douchebaggery at its finest. Eat a beet.)
- Trying four or five wines recommended by the sommelier and deciding you don’t really want any wine after all is totally assy. (This happened at a birthday party I went to. The sommelier was very nice about it, but I wanted to punch the person, whom I had only just met.)
- Hogging the best stuff from the cheese plate without is, aside from stabbing someone with a fork, one of the worst things you can do to your tablemates.
- Allowing the odd lull in conversation to occur is not a crime. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and eat nice things with people you love.
- Being nervous is probably unnecessary, unless you’re actually dining with Her Madge. It’s just a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-thru and where your chicken might still have bones in. Don’t be scared!
Of course, because I don’t really know what I’m talking about (see blog name), I’m going to defer to other people re. food things. My Dessert Life (hi Ali!) and Anger Burger (linked at right) are pretty great. The lovely Jewel Staite writes one of my favourite delicious food things blogs and the divine Neil Patrick Harris has some great food porn happening on this Twitter feed. Oh, and if you aren’t reading Serious Eats, then there might be something wrong with you.