All Dinners — Great and Small
By Jeff Salter
Our topic is dinners and that leaves things wide open for me, because I like to eat.
But unlike many people I know, I eat because I’m hungry … not because I consider dining an experience. In fact, the more of an “experience” it’s supposed to be, the less likely I am to enjoy that particular dinner.
Realizing this demonstrates just how far afield I am — compared to nearly everyone I know — these are examples of the kinds of “dining” which do NOT interest me:
*** Dinner theatre. I like going to plays (at least I used to), but I figure I can wolf down my supper before I get there. Don’t think it’s right to be clinking my dishes and slurping beverages while the people on stage are performing.
*** When people say “let’s do lunch.” Nope. I’ll eat what I want when I want it and then we can meet and chat (or whatever you have in mind). I don’t like to combine eating with meeting. If we have something important enough to meet about, I want to focus on that (or the company) — not on the food and the server and the bill and the traffic.
*** I had a good friend (in another city) who liked to combine lunch and golf. Nope. I went along with it because he was my friend, but the last thing I wanted to lug around 18 holes is a big meal I just ate! [This one is off the table — ha — now because I can’t even play golf anymore.]
*** Any meal I have to drive two hours for. Yep, I know lots of folks who will gladly jump in a vehicle and drive a hundred miles to eat at XYZ Restaurant … “because they have such good chicken” (or whatever their specialty is). Nope. No way. I don’t care if their chicken is good enough to eat itself, I’m not spending two hours in the car to get there. That doesn’t even count the fact that I don’t feel like driving those two hours BACK, on a full stomach.
I may think of other examples later, but I think you get the idea: I’m kinda particular about keeping my food consumption separate from all the other activities which the rest of youse guys seem to enjoy in combination.
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By now, you’ve likely determined that I’m a real grinch about dining out. Can’t deny it. But let me add that I HAVE consumed fancy meals in hoity-toity circumstances. So it’s not like I’ve never done it before. I’m saying, I’ve done some fancy dining and just don’t care for it.
Here’s some of the fancy dining I’ve done:
*** I ate (with a small group) at a banquet in the Pentagon as the guest of a Major General and I ended up sitting right across the table from him. We did the usual small-talk as we dined. [Did not enjoy it, but I coped.]
*** I’ve attended numerous ‘formal’ dinners at various conferences of the American Library Association of the Louisiana Library Association — sometimes with people I already knew and occasionally with total strangers in my profession. Usually the food was pretty ordinary (despite being attractive) and often a bit too cool for my taste. Often we were also there to hear a famous speaker — usually an author — and I enjoyed those experiences … but wished I hadn’t had to “dine” first for the privilege.
*** I dined in the ‘dress-up’ banquet setting of a cruise ship for 4 or 5 successive evenings … and endured large plates with teeny-tiny portions … and lots of frou-frou decorative touches. [I would have preferred the pizza buffet]
*** While overseas (in the Arctic Circle), I dined several times — semi-formal, I guess you could say — with various groups of American military [and occasionally Danish civilians] at the NCO club. These were typically lengthy “events” with multiple courses, and you got new silverware for every course. I sampled stuff like “Danish Open Face” — which, though I never understood the name — referred to raw fish with seasoning. [I would’ve preferred a cooked burger.]
I may think of more examples, but I think you’ll get the idea. I’ve been around the dinner block a few times and I simply prefer my meals to be straightforward EATING, in comfortable surroundings, preferably (reasonably) quiet, and without a lot of interaction.
Want to talk? Let’s talk. Want to see an exhibit? Let’s see it. Want to play a card game? Let’s play. But don’t try to drag me off somewhere where I have to fight crowds or listen to loud music … to stuff food down my throat … on the way to something else. Y’all go on all the eating EVENTS you want and I’ll sit home with some chicken salad. Maybe I’ll join you at the whatever… later. After I’m through eating.
And here I always felt bad because we did not get out to lunch when we met at the bookfest last year!
You sound like you have some experiences with dinners…all bad ones. Any could have made a story but we get the picture big time:Jeff likes to eat, but preferably by himself and definitely food he chooses!
However,I agree with a lot of what you have said.I would never drive really far for any food,(although I have heard of people who did not deserve to be rich actually flying to another city or even continent for certain meals).
Most formally catered dinners and dinners in hotels are over-rated, under-portioned, over-priced and a poor version of something big somewhere that has ‘caught-on’. Everyone clamors,pays the ridiculous price and SAYS how much they enjoy it….rather an “Emperor’s New Clothes” idea.
And yes, who in Heaven’s name thought dinner theater was a good idea and why do they do this???
I guess experiences like yours (and Janette’s) , are the reason why ‘dinner parties’ have such a bad reputation.
I am so sorry that you have not had good company, good food in a good but relaxed atmosphere.
I think it is almost lost. I said it before,it does not have to be, SHOULD NOT BE, formal and stuffy. But after listening to you about eating almost anywhere..well, here Jeff, have a bag of M&M’s and we’ll meet after you eat!
LOL, Tonette. Yeah, I’ll eat my chicken salad and have some M&Ms for dessert and I’ll meet up with youse guys after.
And it’s probably for the best that we didn’t hook up for lunch that day in Bowling Green, because I was having the shakes from low blood sugar. It was after 2 p.m. before we ate and I ended up ordering salmon, which I don’t even eat. But I was too hungry and my brain too foggy to remember that I don’t like it.
Hmmm… You ARE particular. I agree with you on some points. Dinner theaters are awkward and its just rude to eat while people are performing. Maybe that’s just my Southern etiquette showing. I just don’t care for it. And no, I will not drive far for a meal. Maybe up to a half hour, or so, but it would be for the company, not the food. I do enjoy lunch with friends, and, depending on the company, meetings combined with lunch. Big formal dinners are fine, but many times the food is mediocre, at best. The best foods are often found at the dive, or joint around the corner.
This is what I find tedious. Getting gussied up for dinner. Especially if ALL we are doing is dining. What’s the point of wearing a nice cocktail dress for an hour or two just to eat? I do have one exception, formal dining on a cruise ship. Maybe it was the cruise line, maybe I’ve had good luck. But I have always really enjoyed the formal dining on cruise ships (I’ve been on 3). There was this one time I had the most amazing lobster. THREE of them. They were to die for. Seriously, I had THREE.
LOL, Jenn. I don’t like getting gussied up either — not for ANYthing.
Actually, the food on that cruise was not so terrible. But the portions were tiny and I thought they focused more on the artfulness than the taste.
I was grumpy on that cruise anyhow, because I had a pinched nerve in my back the whole time and it was killing me.
Having a pinched nerve would put a damper on. Myself, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cruises!
And another thing —
I HATE going to a restaurant and sitting — sometimes standing — in a crowded entryway for up to 45 mins. waiting on a table! Absolutely HATE it.
Well, I guess this explains why you’re left alone so often. My husband has his eating quirks too: lunch at 10:30 am, supper at 4:30. We can go out for breakfast or lunch, but not supper. And if we go somewhere it has to be within five miles of here. Fortunately he (like you) is bright enough not to stop me from going where I want to go.
Pleased to “meet” your hubby, Patty. Sometimes folks try to make me feel like a freak because I don’t want to spend 2.5 hours eating a meal. Nice to know there are others out there with similar views as me.
I have lunch meetings all of the time – but I tell them, let’s talk over chips and dip and then order. I hate big fancy dinners, and my boss and almost every co-worker is aware that I will find a way to get out of it! 🙂
that’s a great compromise: yak over snaks… and then eat the meal.
I don’t much like being bothered with eating while trying to watch or do something else either, Jeff. I do have a reader’s lunch/meeting I attend once a month, and an RWA dinner/meeting every month, too, but I always make sure I’ve finished my meal before the meeting actually starts. I won’t drive a long distance just for a meal, and when someone says, “Let’s do lunch,” that’s what I do LOL! (with whatever else on the side.) I do like going to “special” dinners, (if special – one chance in a lifetime – is what they really are) but will NOT eat raw fish! I’ve tried Sushi, due to a son’s request, but don’t like it.
Tonette is right. For me; the term “Dinner Party” conjures up a bunch of stuffy over-dressed people in a very fake atmosphere.
And I have to say to jbrayweber that you folk in the south LIVE where the food is the best, so you’re right, why travel for it! I like to look for hole-in -the-wall places to eat, too! 🙂 Going on a cruise ship is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. You are very fortunate. 😉
Jeff; we always leave if there’s a very long line. There’s good food other places, too. 🙂 I enjoyed your blog.
I once got swept into joining a civic club which met weekly for lunch … ugh. I didn’t last very long.
I have to say I agree with a lot of your thoughts here, although it translates a bit differently for me. We do eat out and I enjoy it but we mostly eat out locally. Only mild gussying up is sometimes either required or just a pleasant change from my daily wear. I really do NOT like to be bothered while eating! I have told people I don’t understand why I am suddenly the most interesting person in the world to my family when I pick up a fork. I’ve taken to growling at them like my dog Oscar used to do when someone approached him while he was eating! I do really enjoy good food and the experience but I too have my limits in price and distance and as far as lunch — no. I’m guessing that’s because I work. I go home for lunch that is MY time. I guess I’m a little grinchy too!
Growling. That’s what I should start doing. Might be more effective than my more typical whine. LOL
It also bugs me to see — as it appears on SO MANY movies and TV shows — people visiting some bigwig (often a gangster) while he’s eating a big sloppy mean. And he keeps shoveling it in the whole time they’re visiting.
Oooh, yes, and SMACKING! Ugh! Yes, Jeff, by all means growl. And watch some episodes of Friends that involve Joey and food! “Joey doesn’t share food!”
Oh my, Jeff, some of your points I agreed and some I went ‘really – our Jeff doesn’t like?’ … agree, I eat, cos I’m hungry, really? ‘I meet for lunch/brunch/meeting’, catch two flies with one whatever it is and save time … agree, I wouldn’t drive hours for a meal either unless someone tells me there’s a sensationally good german restaurant … LOL, but even then I’d give it a miss I s’pose.
I’ve learnt something else about you today 🙂
Mental note … when we come to Possum trot, don’t eat and talk at the same time 😉
when you come to Possum Trot, I’ll waive my moratorium on yakking while I eat.
Come on up and over!
I feel honoured 🙂