It is November! That means that holidays will be here before we know it. For our family November and December also means two birthdays mixed … [Read More I love to cook and bake, and my family loves to eat.
Napkins at the Dinner Table
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Then I dressed it up with a few slices of roasted lemon, a couple of chunks of fennel, and a handful of fresh mint. I doused it all in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. It's now my go-to solution to all manner of dinner party dilemmas. See the full recipe and save and print it here. Picture this. You and your party sit down to dinner. The server comes by, first attempting to upsell you on the water — "sparkling, still or tap? Of course, depending on where you're dining, your selection may vary.
Here in New York City, the answer is almost always tap. After water is poured and drink orders taken, your table will likely be regaled with a rendition of the popular "how the menu works" tune. While I pretend to pay attention to this, I'm secretly plotting my table's order. Now there are still a handful of establishments that offer clearly stated courses -- appetizer, entree, dessert -- but many more want you to "experience" the menu, to taste around the various categories.
These categories may include but are not limited to "hot, cold, small bites, raw, bread, noodles, main, big appetites, for the table. I could go on, but I'll spare you. If you go out to eat even a couple of times a year, you're probably familiar with this insistence on relegating menu items to very specific sections along with instructions on how many items to order from each.http://trollfactor.com/cuky-cell-locate.php
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This, by the way, if not clearly stated as it most often is, is code for: We encourage sharing. And I encourage efficient ordering. As a former front-of-house restaurant employee, nothing pains me more now as a diner than sitting idly while a member of my party struggles to make a decision.
A seasoned server will accurately read the situation and attempt to move on to one of a thousand other things they have to do during service, but not before the worst offender waffles some more and says urgently: "don't go anywhere! I'll just be a minute. I have my flaws, but I know my strengths, which is why I can confidently say: I am a really good orderer.
Faced with an indecisive group or individual, I like to offer my assistance by suggesting we just share everything. I feel good about this approach even when the menu isn't definitively designed for sharing.
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I also know not to, uh, order the salmon at the steakhouse. Ordering in this manner is not only the best way to move the meal along at a logical pace. It's also the best way to ensure everyone's satisfied and sated. The spiels from waitstaff about tasting around the menu are tired, I get it, but the intention is on point. Truly the best way to dine is to try as many things as possible knowing what to avoid.
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An individual cannot reasonably order and eat multiple appetizers and more than one entree plus dessert. But even two diners who opt to share are guaranteed a more diverse, pleasing dining experience. When you share, you also avoid that awkward but inevitable offer to your dining companions: "Would you like to try a bite?
I suppose it also promotes a sense of community around the table in a way reaching across the table to stab a piece of Wagyu steak from your friend's plate never will.