Week 3 of the Year of Possibilities
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates
Well, I decided that this week I would learn a new recipe. Another box ticked. Who knew cauliflower could be so versatile. Some months back while dining out I had pan-fried hake with cauliflower couscous and it was delicious. With that meal in mind, I googled (doesn’t everyone loves to google) and found a recipe that I could follow. The hake was fine, the cauliflower couscous was not. There was no similarity whatsoever to the one I tried in The Candied Walnut in Naas (great restaurant by the way). I also tried Cauliflower soup, a hit with himself and a soup that will feature on our home weekly menu for the rest of the season. Although with frozen cauliflower so readily available I should be able to make this soup all year round. Frozen vegetables are great for soup, tasteless for anything else, but great for soup.
I love to eat out. Who doesn’t? Don’t get me wrong, I also love to cook and enjoy preparing food for family and friends, but my favourite pastime is eating out, not just eating out but dining out. I enjoy the chat with the waiting staff as they show you to your table and present you with your menu. In a restaurant, friendly and informative front of house staff will always enhance the experience and make you, the customer, want to return. For me studying the menu is an essential part of the whole experience. A quick scan first to get an overview of what is on offer, then a more detailed perusal of the dishes that have caught my eye, before the final decision is decided upon. The aperitif as you wait for your appetizer while music plays gently in the background and the ebb and flow of conversation as it permeates the room all add to the experience.
It is true that you eat with your eyes, at least I find that is true for me. As the dish is put in front of me I am checking out the presentation. I have always imagined that if the chef puts effort into presenting his/her creation, then chances are it will taste great unless something catastrophic has happened in the kitchen. The aroma should reach your nostrils as you lift your cutlery, hinting at the delicious flavours that are about to engulf your taste buds. Then wow, the first bite delivers and if you have made the right choice and the chef is in any way talented or even competent, you delight in every bite. Well, I do anyway!
But not everyone gets the whole eating out experience. And that’s fine, if we were all the same, life would be very boring. Sometimes I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they read the menu. The foodie likes to take their time and study the menu in detail. The non-foodie has no interest. They want to order, eat and get out. The non-foodie opens the menu, chooses the first dish they recognise and places their order. No reading of the detail of each dish and no interest in thinking about trying something different. The non-foodie eats to stop hunger, they get no joy from different tastes and textures. They don’t understand how anyone can spend time reading a menu or discussing what they would like to eat. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the taste of good food. They do, they just don’t get the same buzz out of dining out that us foodies do, they would be just as happy with a fast food takeaway and place no value on the art of choosing quality ingredients and skilfully preparing and presenting them. Luckily it is only on special occasion meals that the two food types share the same table. On those occasions, foodies and non-foodies can agree to disagree on their attitude to dining out.