I was called away on business early today, so I didn’t have time to put together something totally awesome and originally new. But instead of plagiarizing others, please enjoy instead this wholesale lift from something I wrote over five years ago from my OG food blog Horny for Food. It’s perhaps the first piece of overly angry food writing I ever composed. I’ve remained remarkably consistent in my opinions, though I’ve become much less concise. Depressing.
Critical Eating: Restaurant Appreciation
So forget a rant about ice buckets. That’s not very interesting.
I’d like to kick off an inaugural segment of something I’m going to call “critical eating.” Critical eating is the process by which you look at what you eat from something more than just the immediate physical pleasure (or pain) that that food instills in you. It’s taking a look at why you’re having the reaction that you are–what about the flavors, textures, setting, plating that makes the dish work or not work. It’s also about pushing aside prejudices and preferences–so you like pork, big fucking deal–that doesn’t mean you need to get pork every time you’re out. So you “don’t like fish?” I find that highly doubtful. Critical eating is attempting to wrap your brain around your culinary experience–get yourself to understand food, eating, and dining in a new way.
It’ll make your life better, I swear.
So the first thing I want to talk about is restaurant appreciation. What is often missed when dining out is that ultimately the enjoyment of the food rests on you, the consumer. If you dislike a menu item, chances are that it’s not the restaurant’s fault–what you ate just wasn’t to your tastes. I work at a restaurant with a fairly narrowly-focused menu. Often I’m asked (though not as much as before)–Oh, you don’t serve X? Why don’t you have a glass of Y?
It’s not a restaurant’s job to be all things to all people. A restaurant’s job is to do what it thinks it needs to do to succeed. And if that’s not to your tastes, then don’t go there. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t go to steakhouses. I’m sure there are many steakhouses that serve an excellent product. Steakhouse cuisine is not something I like, but I don’t get all pissed off at steakhouses for not having something that appeals to my interests. That would be retarded.
What I’m attempting to say is just this–it’s okay not to like a restaurant, but don’t blame the restaurant for the fact that you don’t like it. Blame the restaurant if your meat is overcooked. Blame the restaurant if your soup is cold. Blame the restaurant if your wine is oxidized. But don’t blame the restaurant because you can’t taste the difference between Gorton’s fish sticks and pan-fried sand dabs.
If you don’t like what a restaurant does–understand that other people do. It’s probably just a matter of taste. Move on with your life.