Today, it rained, so there was no work in the veggie garden. Nonetheless, today's blog does deal with food. ;-)
From time to time I watch some of these “chef shows” on TV—Chef Gordon Ramsey comes to mind off hand—I do not mean to pick on him, per se--only that he is the most recent I happened to see in a recent episode of the show, “Kitchen Nightmares.”
For those who have not seen the show, a brief synopsis: he will come to a restaurant that is struggling, identify the problems, work with the owner for a week, and usually turn the place around. This often includes a physical spruce up for improved ambiance.
Ambiance. Hmmm… well, if the place is clean and pleasant, well-lit enough to see the menu and what I’m eating, that’s fine by me. You cannot eat ambiance, and dim, dark, candlelit caves that require a flashlight to read the menu raise my suspicions as to what they’re trying to hide. I’ve eaten at one place, at least, that was 4-star cuisine with coffee-shop and blue jeans ambiance. The food was great; the décor was irrelevant. But that is not the main point of this article.
While Chef Ramsey is right on the money with many of the things he spots as problems in the establishments he’s been called in to help, I have a major problem at the finishing end, with most of the food presentation and portions (this applies to many, many ‘high-end’ restaurants, particularly those sporting so-called ‘nouveau cuisine’). If I am spending good money to go out to enjoy a wonderful dinner at a nice restaurant, I expect to be fed. Not only do I want the food to be tasty and of high quality, I want enough to eat!
If I were to be served one of those artsy-fartsy dishes of 2 or 3 decorative lumps of food presented on a largely empty plate with a backdrop of drizzled sauce, I’d send it back! Who do they think they are serving--anorexic mice??!! When I anticipate a lovely, celebratory meal, I am careful not to eat anything at all within the 4 to 5 hours prior, so that I will be sufficiently hungry to fully appreciate the chef’s efforts. I also avoid dulling my taste buds or appetite with alcohol, expecting instead to savor a nice wine with the meal.
I don’t mind spending a good price for quality, but I do not want to get ripped off, either: I want enough to eat. I came for a meal, not an appetizer-teaser. I do not want to leave the restaurant still hungry so I have to go home and fix a sandwich. How anti-climactic would that be? And, no, I’m no advocate of burger-joint style “super-size/pig size” portions, either. I just want enough to eat to feel nicely satisfied.
As for that fancy presentation, can’t they find a halfway point between “artful presentation” and “just slopped onto the plate?” Just good food that looks tasty, please. If it’s artwork I want to see, I’ll visit a museum.