Wednesday, 24 September 2008

How do you eat yours?

It was last Tuesday night and all was well as far as I could see. I was surveying my domain, table two to table ten, from behind the plants. I wasn't perving I was taking stock of were I was in the service. A good waiter has to have Total Restaurant Awareness, it's similar to a Jedi's "force" but without the robes or lightsaber. Table two were fine, just finished their mains and were contemplating the sticky sweet goodies on the dessert menu. Four were yaking more than they were eating, more chow chow and less jabber jabber please. Six were talking too but not to each other, their Crackberries were constantly chirping away. Now, I had just served eight their main courses so I paid particular attention to them.

I'll have mine in a glass please....

She was having a rare steak with salad and he was having cod with herb mash. Nice choices. But as I stood there behind the rubber plant my look of waiterly concern turned to one of horror as the chap lifted his fish and plonked it on top of his mash. No great crime I hear you shout. But what followed next was a crime.

Lifting his fork he went at the cod and mash with the ferocity of a man angry at the world. His dining partner never batted an eyelid. Clearly she had witness this childlike behaviour before. He mixed, mashed, combined, and mingled the two foods together until there was no way of telling one from the other. The two elements had become one. He then took a big gulp of Sauvignon, rolled up his sleeves and proceeded to hoover this homogenous lump into his pie hole with a vim and vigor not witnessed since the end of my 24 hour fast for Africa in '88.

It was gruesome but still I couldn't stop watching. He had the plate cleared in under five minutes. I very much doubt any of it touched the sides on the way down. It's not a respectable way for adults to eat is it? I mean seriously, would you eat like that in public? What you do in the comfort and security of your own front room is one thing. I mean I could care less if you filter your food through a a sock in your own home but not in public eh.

But people do eat their food in the most peculiar of ways. There are some, like my cousin, who save the best bits to the end preferring to get the bothersome vegetables out of the way first, following with the potato du jour and finally building up to the exciting chicken kiev or what ever it happens to be. I find it odd. Then there are those who seem to be so scared of their food they chase it round the plate until they are sure it's dead. I've never been scared of my food, my ever expanding waistline being testament to this. There are those who spend a fucking eternity chewing. Round and round and round they go, when will they swallow? Nobody knows. Their food must be baltic by the time they get to the last fork full. And like yer man there are those who give short shrift to the idea of savouring the flavours and, for want of a better expression, bate it in til them like there is no tomorrow. Savages the lot of them.

I blame the parents and Adam Sandler. Obviously.

I take a bit of each food and a dab of whatever sauce accompanies it and pop it into my gob. I chew for a moment allowing the flavours to fill my mouth and then I swallow. Easy. It's the way god intended.

Call me a fascist if you must but anything else is wrong and you know it. If yer man comes in again I'm going to offer to stick his food in a blender and serve it in a glass.

So what about you?
Are you a masher, a chaser, a keep it to the ender, or what?

46 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

belfastyouthworker said...

i am definitely a savourer (savouress?), i talk too much and by the time i'm finished the food is well cold. did you put your restaurant down for the latest series of Ultimate Ulster with frank the weatherman? :)

Manuel said...

byw: oh crikey no...I hate phone votes and all that balls....not a big fan of ftwm either....savouring is a good thing, it's shows patience and manners....

belfastyouthworker said...

but it's frank! a shining beacon of our unwavering dedication in choosing incompetent idiots to represent ulster television. wow that's a lot of words for 1am, lol

Manuel said...

byw: frank's a plank.......still he much better than that bloody angie on the bbc...her shit don't stink..

belfastyouthworker said...

boycott the bbc!!! they're so ageist!!! support local businesses etc!! i can see utv from my house :) yeooo

Manuel said...

byw: ageist? really? drinking on a school night.....hehehehehehe

Steve said...

I cannot eat my food fast so I guess I enjoy it a bite at a time and I do not like talking so much while I am eating.I know this cause I eat before I go to work in a restaurant.I can never eat a bite while I am working.I hate eating fast.What's the hurry anyway, right?

Manuel said...

steve: yeah me too, eating at work is pointless as like you say you have to eat it quick and I really hate that. I like to enjoy my grub....

Medbh said...

How's the empty spot in your mouth?
Feeling better?

I like to savour what's on the plate and not eat too much. I pawn the uneaten portion off on the husband.

lizzie said...

I'll have a bite of this, a forkful of that, a sip of wine, until it's all gone. No particular order.

I did date a guy once who was almost pathological in his need to maintain equal percentages of his meat, potato, vegetable, salad, etc as he ate. No way could he have more than one bite of potato in a row. Doing so "would throw off the balance." (He was quite serious.)

Needless to say, it made a nice meal into something new and dreadful. I just couldn't take it, and had to give him the heave-ho.

Steve said...

Right on....I hardly eat out too.Just like to have the dinner with my kids and wife.Just relax and listen to what my kids 6 and 4 have to say.

MJ said...

I licked my plate tonight.

Silverstar said...

When I was younger, no food could touch other food, and I ate only one thing at a time. I'm sure I drove my mother round the bend. Now I just sort of get it in any way I can.

Coupey said...

I'm a pretty slow eater but I like to take time to savour things, especially if it's good. The one quirk I do have is that I like to try and make the last forkful have a little bit of everything that was on the plate.

Red hair, Red face said...

Im a masher at home....love to mush it all up....yum...although when out I do like to pretend to be a lady...a hard job when my boyfriend holds his fork like a shovel.....pure class!!

Melissa said...

I think I'm a normal eater. Not too fast, not too slow, no weird mix em mash em habits.

I have a friend at home who is a painfully slow eater. So slow, actually, that she takes on average 20 minutes longer to finish her food. It annoys me to a point I don't want to eat with her anymore. I can't stand watching her chew, slowly, like a cow ruminating.

Wow, that was kind of mean, huh?

Caro said...

I'm a really slow eater so my grub's often cold by the time I get to the end. Once it took me so long to finish off a plate of wild boar and polenta that when we ordered coffees after the waiter asked if I wanted my coffee cold too.

Green Of Eye, Sharp Of Claw said...

I'm a slow eater,if i'm having food with a group 9 times out of 10 i'm the last to finish.But i hate rushing my food and would rather taste it!

People can be really strange about food can't they?!I eat in no particular fashion, but the one thing that freaks me out: when mushy peas or beans are put on a dinner plate with other food.I Hate them and the mere sight of them on a plate is enough to turn my stomach.Don't ask me why,i have no idea!

Yer man sounds like a nightmare dinner guest: you spend ages preparing a lovely meal only to observe him pulverise it and hoover it up!Bleugh.

Kenny Wisdom said...

Ah, good old nursery food, eh?

Reminds me of a chap I know, who came to visit from Norn Iron. Now we knew he was a tad fussy with his food, so anything with the words "foreign muck" in the title was a no-no. Playing it safe, we decided to feed him a roast dinner. When he arrived you could see his nose positively twitch with disdain.

"Gravy? MM, I only like it if it's Bisto gravy...like my mums..."

He didn't say "like my mums" but I knew it was there, in the background.

Amazingly, we'd already been tipped off about the gravy by his wife, and we showed him the bisto packet. He didn't see it was unopened and was none the wiser.

But what really got my goat, and where your story reminds me of this, was when it came down to that humble Anglo / Irish staple - potatoes.

Roast potatoes - check. No problem. As we were feeding 8, we put on extra mashed pots, to fill their plates. Not so for mummys boy though. He couldn't eat mashed potatoes - his had to be boiled only. So just for little Lord Fauntleroy, we boiled some potatoes.

"There you go, sir..."

You could have heard a pin drop when we stopped eating, totally aghast that the first thing he did was take his fork and start mashing up his boiled potatoes into the bisto gravy...

Red Mum said...

Im not a masher but sometimes would keep best things to the end. When I have a fry the last forkful WILL contain a little of everything, the perfect mouthful.

I'm afraid I would not be able to dine with that ahem gentleman, his manners sound vile. My ma made me completely phobic about eating noises, crisps were essentially sucks in our house. I as a result am now worse than her.

I don't think I could do your job, unless punching people with disgusting manners is acceptable :)

AnFearBui said...

What that guy needs is a salt cod brandade.......& maybe a clip around the ear.

sheepworrier said...

Bit of everything on the fork is the best way to go. Either that or smother it all in HP sauce so it all tastes the same...

Queen of clean said...

A certain American thesp who is gracing my Hotel eats his fish and potatoes in exactly the same manner.....mashing it all together to a big mess. A journo interviewing him likened his eating habits to a bog man!

I savour every bite, unless its a burger then it doesn't touch the sides.

belfastyouthworker said...

lol, yeah the bbc are ageist, they keep sacking anchorwomen in favour of younger models, the telegraph did a piece on it the other week -socially aware :) i wish i was drinking lol that's just what kids do to you, you eventually become one :D

conortje said...

Mashing everything up into the potato is a Dutch speciality (seriously!). Maybe he was a cloggy :-)

Manuel said...

good grief......too many comments to be dealing with so early in the morning......I'm off for coffee back.... in a while......

paddy said...

my main weirdness revolves around breakfast. I'll have a dab of anything with the egg - sausage, black pudding, beans whatever but the bacon is saved till last. Apparently I've done this since I could hold a fork. I'll mash occasionally with other meals but never in a restaurant. You want to give yourself some chance of getting laid afterwards fer chrissake.

redleeroy said...

I just typed a comment and then hit submit. It disappeared. Fuck. Anyway at home I eat fast, really really fast. At a restaurant I eat slow. Really really Slow.

Conan Drumm said...

If I'm hungry then it's formula one eating time.

I suspect yer man really wanted fishcakes but maybe they're not on your menu?

Michelle said...

I've been known to keep the "best bits" for the end. I tend not to eat one thing at a time, but there better be one good piece of filet left for the last bite!

Manuel said...

medbh: I cant keep my tongue out of it...it''s very annoying. I felt like I had been beaten with bats.....

lizzie: what? He sounds like my sort of chap!

Steve: I'd eat out everyday if I could get away with it...

mj: Is that rude? I mean more than it sounds?

Silverstar: eek....

coupey: welcome! That sounds perfectly reasonable....

rdrf: no no no no no

Melissa: no, you let it all out...

caro: bwahahahaha cheeky sod!

Sue C. said...

I tend to eat the med. savoury item first, the least tasty item second and save the best parts for last.

Manuel said...

green eye: that's what annoyed me, the food look great and he could have spent a moment to appreciate it....

kenny wisdom: I'd a kicked his ungrateful ass all the way home. I get it all the time at work. No matter what sauce comes with what meal you always get some inbred a-hole asking for "ordinary gravy"......makes me die a little every time.....

red mum: sucking crisps bwahahahahaha brilliant.....

anfearbui: and a fucking good shoeing.....

sheepo: animal.....

queenie: who? who? who? spill!!!

byw: wkd and a ten deal.....awh just like mummy used to make.....

conortje: no, he was pricky....

Manuel said...

paddy: bacon last? what a freak.....hehehehe

redleeroy: slow enough to warrant a rent book? I hate those types...

conan: bwahahahaha

michelle: as long as it's rare......best to avoid the well done fillet....

sue c: you have issues......

raptureponies said...

I do the one at a time thing, where I eat the vegetables, but then the potato, and then the fish (or steak or whatever)kind of vaguely combined.

Ryan said...

My dear late Granda had the finest of peculiar munch rituals. Food was gathered together in a series of miniature sculptures, somewhere between Richard Dreyfuss mash mountain in Close Encounters and the gopher's work in Caddyshack.

Manuel said...

ryan: granpaw was a craftsman eh.....

Manuel said...

raptureponies: weirdo.....hehehehe

Mr. DNA said...

I thought I ate like everyone else in the states until a waiter asked me where I was originally from. I told him I was born and raised in California. He protested claiming I eat like a European.

He explained;
When I cut my steak I held the knife in my right hand and my fork in my left. And then when I ate the piece I had cut, I didn't change the fork back to my right hand.

So I looked at him puzzled.

Then he said that all Americans switch hands after cutting.

Who knew?

The main question I have now is, why was he watching me so closely?

clay engineer said...

Well, I must confess I am rather juvenile when it comes to my breakfast of bacon and eggs with toast. I cut up the bacon in small bits, mash my sunnysides and have to fork both the bacon and egg together into the pie-hole. And it must be accompanied by a bite of toast to go with it. I detest the habit of picking up bacon with the fingers in order to snap off a bite of it as I have seen others do.

And, I must confess to 'guilty' about leaving the very best bite to last. I want to end the meal on a high note, I suspect.

Fussy about keeping my food neat on the plate and not touching? Guilty.

I blame a highly critical older sister.

Manuel said...

mr dna: we watch.....we watch and we judge....we watch, we judge and we take notes........

Clay Engineer: Welcome! "I blame a highly critical older sister" don't we all!

stickyfingers said...

Mashers are food funnels. They don't care about the dish, how the chef has considered the balance of flavours, colours and textures to create the end result.

I discovered one on a first date in a swanky gastro-palace. After cutting up and mashing, he asked if the kitchen could provide either gravy, tomato sauce or brown sauce with which to crown the resulting plate of bile. Needless to say I bolted before dessert.

I had another where the male in question declared enroute that he would not eat any meal unless it was accompanied with lashings of sauce - any sauce, as long it didn't contain wine or garlic. BaaBOW! He didn't make it to first base either.

The Rantolotl said...

Yeah, I order my food in preference. I'll try everything that's meant to be eaten together to get a good idea of the intended flavours, but I can't help it. If there's spring onions in a dish, I'll eat thm first. Then the vegetables. Then the carby things, then the item that made me go 'oooohhh!' and order the meal in the first place.

Curiously, I even manage to do this with pasta and risotto dishes.

Manuel said...

stickyfingers: welcome! haven't you had some bad luck!? And by first base you mean desserts eh? hehehehehe

rantoloti: double weirdo.....

witchypoo said...

I always "eat the money" first. That way, if I get full, I won't be leaving the expensive stuff on my plate. Now, at home, I know just how much to dish out, but restaurants do not.
I seldom have room for dessert. Leaving the best for last for me often means abandoning it.

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