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