The Art and Etiquette of Sharing Food Tuesday, Aug 10 2010 

If I had it my way, I would have a bite of everything off of a menu.  Usually when I order this wish, the waiter stares at me like I have five heads.  Rather than being a food critic, where I know that I would be much too full to even think about writing after a meal, I am a food sharer.

Sharing food can get messy!

As much as I love sharing plates and opening taste buds to a variety of foods, I understand that there are certain rules of etiquette that must be applied to the art of sharing.

Rule #1.            Must be with close friends or a close family.  (Dad reaching a fork onto your plate without asking does not count).  When it comes to close friends and family, you should be able to determine what each person is going to order before they have decided.  Therefore, you should know with whom it is wise to share food.  Do not yell across the table, but if you happen to be ordering the exact same thing as someone, suggest to share that dish and order something else of shared and complimented interest.  This should be effortless.

You:  Oh, I was also thinking of ordering the fettuccini alfredo.

Choice share-mate:  Okay, you order that and I will give you half of… how does chicken parmesan sound?

Hannah Theuerkauf and I feed each other delicious bites of our meals.

Rule #2.            Must be the right type of food.  Certain restaurants are more share-friendly than others.

Key share-delicacies:

-Fondue

-Sushi

-Sandwich

-Pizza

-Dessert

-Chinese Food at any scale  (most ethnic foods seem to be good share foods actually)

If the occasion calls for food to be shared, than by all means stretch your palette.  Places that serve foods like fondue and pizza are great to share because they are large sizes that suit the majority of diets.  Simply agree on toppings and mixes that multiple people will like and since company is more important than food, please be flexible and do not go crazy.

Cheese fondue is perfect for sharing and has multiple forks to do so.

Sushi happens to be the best way to share food.  Because each roll of sushi is so creatively different from another, it is interesting to select a variety of rolls to share.

Chinese food is an obvious share food because eating an entire carton of chicken and broccoli would not only be boring, but it would be unsatisfying.  (momentary and 2 hour later disappointment). Perhaps because so much of Chinese food is cooked in similar sauce, it is smart to order different meats and vegetables to create a delicious square meal.

Rarely is dessert ordered when going out to eat.  However it is nice to order something special for a birthday or some sort of celebration.  The restaurant pushes sharing since they provide the table with more than one spoon.  Do it.

Rule #3.            Must be the right atmosphere.  Please only share food in appropriate environments.  Stray away from mixing plates around at upscale restaurants and learn to distribute food correctly.

While lunch cafés are a very safe place to trade food like sandwich halves, a dim lit restaurant parlor is not the place to bargain a menu.  (On the practical side, high-end restaurants usually only give a pretty little portion of food, so sharing would be impossible anyway).

When sharing food, nicely ask the waiter for an extra plate before evenly separating the meal.  Then place the other half on the new plate and pass.  Allow compensation for any extra sauces and always be fair.  The extra plate is a must and smoothens the sharing equation.

Last but not least:  Enjoy the delights of food together and having fun in common.  Eat within reason and savor what you have.

Not only does sharing food create a bond, but does it help not overeat while out.  It is enjoyable to try a few things on the menu and fight over what you liked best.

Bite for bite? I can't resist.

Personally, I do not want as much food as long as I am able to try a bite or two of a few interesting dishes.  Perhaps versatile eating is a carefree and adventurous diet of its’ own.  This would explain the phenomenon of tapas bars, which offer several unique appetizers in place of one meal.  Since this is more of an urban cuisine, I must be loyal to the art of sharing.  Bon appetite!

Who said a toga was cozy? Tuesday, May 25 2010 

Remember when you used to wet your toothbrush to trick your parents into thinking that you responsibly brushed your teeth before bedtime?  Do not deny it, we are all guilty of having told a lie or coming home past curfew at least once or 20 times with our folks.  In college, these matters do not concern us.  If I want to eat a bag of skittles for dinner and then go to the library until 2am, I can.  The independence of decisions without pardon is a college benefit that unfortunately strays away from consistent healthy behavior.

Interestingly enough, the finishing moments of the college year is called, ‘hell-week,’ where sleep and routine meals are foreign.  The focus is on studying hard, tying loose ends, and saying good-bye to the best of friends before breaking into summer.  Whether plans after hell-week entail returning home, or remaining at school for a sensible summer term, we still have the opportunity to breath.

After completing my sophomore year at Indiana University, I kissed the cornfields good-bye and hopped on a plane to New York.  It was almost as if I handed in my strenuous statistics final, blinked, and landed in my father’s bear arms.  His name is Yogi, by the way.  My family and I then went out to dinner to the most delicious Italian restaurant in Brooklyn.

# 1 reason why it is good to be home- going out to dinner is such a treat.  Not to mention the fact that I have still not adapted to the taste of Indiana’s token-choice ranch dressing, let alone their infatuation with Mexican cuisine.  After being deprived of classic NY Italian food, it was bliss to dive into a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.

With a belly full and breath reeking of garlic, I drove home with my two brothers whose voices dropped lower and shoulders grew wider since I last saw them.  As I passed through traffic only to recall aggressive driving and thick New Yorker accented, ‘why I oughta’s’, I sighed in delight to finally pull into the driveway of the place I grew up in, my house.  Home sweet home.

Even though I know that it is still there, I always bolt up the stairs to run and jump onto my bed in my room.

#2 reason why it is good to be home- your room.  Your bedroom is where you escaped to be alone and where you brought your friends over to be so much cooler than hanging out downstairs with parents around.  In addition to your space is your bed.  One of the most comfortable pleasures of life is crawling into your very own bed.  Plus, sleeping after finals week is beyond luxurious.

Now I am past the ‘welcome home’ point and am onto the ‘making moves’ phase of home.  This is where the realities of home must adjust to a young adult’s lifestyle of desired freedom and initiative.  On my way out the door to meet up with friends, my mother said, “It’s chilly tonight, wear a jacket.”

In college, it would be absurd if a roommate suggested this, unless of course it was blizzard conditions and choice of fashion was below par.  The only reminder a roommate would give before going out would have to do with party favors.

#3 reason why it is unusual to be home- certain advice or rules are applied in a home environment that are not registered at college.  Granted, the weather was chilly.  As I buttoned my blue jean jacket that evening, I could only thank my mother for looking out for my best interest.  In college, we wing it whereas at home we are guided in the right direction.

College- our priorities hinder our care for the seemingly insignificance of structure.  Home- our priorities root from the infrastructure of the roof we sleep beneath.  Why deal with the rain if an umbrella is gladly provided?  College makes rain seem like an afterthought to the activities to perform.  Plus, a little rain only makes day calm and night exciting.  Sit inside then pounce puddles!

So far, I must agree with the refreshing lifestyle home has to offer compared to college.  Although the social atmosphere and the independence of college life is exhilarating, it is still nice to come down to earth in an organized and family centered home life.  Now I am trusted to brush my teeth and am even permitted to have friends over after curfew.  It is an understanding to accommodate the attitude of college into a household setting.

Nails on a chalkboard Monday, Jan 25 2010 

Pussies.  From their claws and their fangs to their mysterious prowl, I hate cats.  Who knew this fear would follow me to college?

In the beginning of my freshman year, I dated a macho man with a ‘closet grandma disorder.’  He and his three cats welcomed me to his territory.  Upon entering his apartment for the first time and stiffening like a board as cats purred around my legs like sharks circling a victim, I contemplated dealing with the felines to continue dating Catman.  After about two seconds of torture, I came up with a solution: next.

Call me shallow, but I do not withstand certain qualities and behaviors.  I am not saying that I expect a stepford companion, however there are intolerable pet peeves that drive me crazy.

    1. The technique to eating spaghetti and meatballs.  Men who cut their spaghetti rather than twirling their spoon are criminal.  Even the dog from, “The Lady and the Tramp,” understands this phenomenon.
    2. Pinky Rings and Ponytails.  Pinky rings are completely unnecessary and were obviously bought in a 25 cent machine.  Do not trust a man with a pinky ring.  Pony tails are for sock-hops and horses.
    3. The goo-goo ga-ga of a baby voice.  Unless his lungs are filled with helium, there is no excuse.
    4. If he wears a smaller pants size than me.  I do not want to know that I can kick his butt.  Find a nice spot somewhere between Peewee Herman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    5. The blue ribbon champion.  A guy who lists his every achievement and trophy won only leaves me to assume one thing: small penis.
    6. Driving a yellow car.  Normally at this age we are lucky to get a box on wheels, however a yellow car screams obnoxious.  Taxi driver, what’s my fare?
    7. One’s appreciation of the most delicious and mesmerizing spice: garlic.  If he doesn’t like garlic, he will never be able to share a meal with me.  I would starve.
    8. Leg shakers and pen chewers.  I am easily distracted by someone bobbing their leg up and down and lose track of the conversation.  Nervous habit verses where that pen has been before is an unsanitary balance.  Your mouth, not mine.
    9. Kindergarten etiquette.  A bow and a pinky up is unnecessary, however the simplicity of opening doors and using a napkin rather than a sleeve does not hurt.
    10. High maintenance.  Please do not take longer than me to get ready.

Nancy’s nit picks:

    1. Due to a traumatic sixth grade experience of slow dancing with a boy in need of stilts, height is of crucial importance.  He must be tall to go on this ride.
    2. If he pulls the, “I am really smart, but I just do not try,” line, than he may please remove himself from my presence.  Security?
    3. Youtube Kelly would agree with me that his shoes matter.  If I look down and see the white slip on’s that my grandmother does her water-walking in than he might as well stop trying.  The Adidas with the three white stripes down the side do not fly either.
    4. In good fun, I expect to be matched after I dish him out.  Curling up into the fetal position after a harmless joke simply declares him the weakest link, goodbye.
    5. Trying too hard to impress me and listing your stats like a pro athlete will only convince me that I will most likely find you taking my order in a Burger King.  And no, thank you, I do not want fries with that.