Recently I’ve come under withering criticism about my eating habits. It’s not that I’ve got elbows on the table, or that I’m chewing things with my mouth open, or that I’m violating other basic rules of dining etiquette that you learned from your Mom when you were about five years old. Nor is it that my choice of cuisine is decidedly weighted toward the meat end of the spectrum, with a pronounced disdain for vegetable matter.
No, this complaint is more about the eating process. That is, when food is put down in front of you, how do you go about consuming it?
Consider the most recent instance where this issue arose. Kish and I were having brunch at the German Village Coffee Shop, and I ordered two of the plate-sized whoppers that you get when you order pancakes at the GVCS. I like my pancakes with butter and a liberal amount of syrup, like any other rational human being. So, my eating process is straightforward. First, while the pancakes are still piping hot, I slather on butter, making sure to spread the butter both on top of the stack and in the area between the two pancakes, in order to ensure an even array of moist butteriness. Second, I carefully cut the pancakes into bite-sized pieces, so that the fluffy interior of the pancake is exposed, the better to soak up the forthcoming syrup cascade. Then, and only then, do I apply the syrup — taking care to add enough syrup to flavor each bite, but not flood the plate — and begin eating.
This seems like the only proper way to consume good pancakes while achieving the squishy butter/syrup/pancake combo that any pancake lover strives for. But by the time I have completed my preparations and begin eating, Kish has finished her food and is checking her watch, tapping her fingers on the countertop, and looking at me with a friendly, bemused, yet mildly impatient expression.
Or take Indian food. At Indian Oven, which is the only place to get lamb korma in Columbus, Ohio, you are served a dish of well-prepared, steaming basmati rice and a separate dish of the lamb korma itself. How, then, to proceed? The only reasonable course is to dump the entire portion of rice onto your place, spoon the lamb korma on top of the rice, and then carefully mix the two, so as to ensure that every grain of rice is adequately coated with the spicy korma sauce. Admittedly, this takes some time and attention to detail — but who wants to eat plain basmati rice, or end up with extra korma sauce in the dish that you have to eat with a spoon because you don’t have any remaining elements of the rice delivery system available to you? And yet, the Jersey Girl finds this well-conceived, entirely rational approach to consuming lamb korma hilarious and, in all likelihood, evidence of some deep-seated psychological issue.
What can I say? I guess I’m a deliberate eater. Say, have I ever explained the right way to apply mustard to a hot dog?