Posted by: foodtalker | January 8, 2011

all for one

As one of three I was taught to share.  But that meant toys, and Mum’s attention.  Not food. 

Only a glutton or a fool would attempt to steal a french fry in my family when everyone at the table is armed with a four pronged gig.

But now there’s a new trend in the dining industry.  Sharing of a different dimension is all the rage.   What used to be known as a side dish is now considered an entrée, and what’s mine is yours too and considered as ours – even if I was the one who ordered it. 

We are being asked to digest an entire menu of overpriced appetizers.  Or, put somewhat more appetizingly: an assortment of expensive snacks for general consumption, masquerading as a “tasting menu”, which means that the portions are smaller but somehow the smaller plates cost the same as the larger ones and there are communal forks.  Huh?  Or rather, duh.

Sharing a dessert with friends used to be rather a chummy thing to do.  A gesture that forged a bond at the end of the evening, but now the whole meal is up for grabs. 

Less is more is a really great idea unless you’re hungry.  I understand the Bauhaus vision, but sometimes, when it comes to food, more ain’t that bad.

Besides, sharing food is stressful.  Before the food arrives there’s an obligation to make a mutual decision about what to order.  It takes a caucus to place an order, a second mortgage to pay for it and a prolonged period of extreme anxiety wondering if there’ll be enough.   It all gives me indigestion before the first bite arrives.

When tapas bars started to flourish I much preferred to use them in the correct style as providers of a civilized personal snack to go with a beer or sherry.  Ordering everything off the menu as some gigantic spread for everyone to tuck into makes me exhausted.  Anyway, the tortilla, well actually, I want that all to myself.

My sharing phobia is not even hygiene related – I know there’s a lot of handling that goes on in the kitchen.  Nor am I a war baby brought up with a ration-book appetite and an over active conscience.  My parents didn’t withhold food as a punishment or reward me with treats.  It’s just that it requires too much subtle spoon jostling over who gets the extra drizzle of sauce and then latent aggressions come out over a single pea pod.  Wars begin over stuff like this.

My friend Juliet is convinced they mess with you.  “Have you noticed if there’s four people, they’ll give you five pieces?  Or worse, only three?  And if there’s three people, they’ll give you four?   It’s like Survivor: The Restaurant.” 

Then that one last bite left on the plate gets cleared away because no one wants to be labeled the pig who eats it.  That’s 20% of the bill right there and the kitchen considers it a coup de fork.

Menu cherry-picking isn’t fun.  I’m forced to fill up on cherries picked by others when I’d rather just gorge on my own selections.  I’ve noticed my dogs don’t share.  So maybe next time this becomes an issue, I’ll just growl.


  1. No one better mess with my french fries!!!

  2. Oh, how funny! And, oh, how true! With no notice given, we’ve fallen into the “sharing is caring” M.O. when it comes to dining out. So, though I MAY care, I MAY NOT share. I really hadn’t thought about it until I read this cute article. Now, I plan on forging on alone; ordering and eating as I please! Thanks, Kate for your insights on our culinary customs!

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