Dining together has been a social mainstay since the first caveman conked a dinosaur on the head and invited his buddies to partake in the meal.
Mankind has always placed importance on eating as a group and great banquet halls have been constructed just to facilitate the act of chowing down together.
But as people grew more cultured, the simple act of sharing a meal became more complicated.
I was at a somewhat swanky establishment the other day for a work event that included a fish delicacy.
I asked why fish was chosen and was told, “Oh, just for the halibut.”
OK, you can stop groaning now, I know that is an old joke, but I just couldn’t resist.
Anyway, as I sat down at the table of the fancy pants restaurant I noticed something that caused me great distress: there were three forks.
Hmmmm, let me see. I have two hands and one mouth so why do I need three forks?
Each was a different size and I assumed each had a different purpose in life, but I had no idea what fork was to be used for what food.
They had a big, general purpose fork which I was used to seeing so I gravitated to that utensil out of familiarity. But they also had a smaller fork, and a medium fork. What the fork?
I decided the smallest one had to be used for dessert. Why? Why not?
The medium-sized one had me completely baffled, so I did what any semi-cultured man would do – I ignored it.
I also had two spoons: a large one and small one. The large one was again used for general duty eating while the smaller one was used for stirring coffee. I am not sure why the big one could not do double duty, but I had two spoons so I might as well use them.
I tried to play it cool and watch what everyone else was using before simply giving up and eating my food with whatever utensil I could grab.
I have never been one for fine dining and I felt like a cat at a dog convention. I do know enough to place my napkin on my lap as is social protocol. Again the question why begs to be asked, but that is just what you do, so, like a sheep in a fancy pants restaurant, I did what everyone else was doing. Good thing they all didn’t decide to jump off a bridge.
Fancy pants restaurants also bring the meals in pieces. Whereas non-fancy pants restaurants usually serve their meals in a paper bag.
First comes the salad, then the main course and then dessert. It’s like getting several little meals in one sitting.
But before those little meals are served, it is obligatory the establishment first serve bread that is tender and soft on the inside, but has a crust so hard it could chip a diamond. That way when you bite into the bread, the hard crust cuts your gums and showers you with little crumbs that stick to your shirt and you must spend the rest of the meal casually flicking them to the floor.
I always feel nervous when eating at a fancy pants restaurant because, as you may have guessed, I am not exactly a fancy pants guy.
I always worry that food will dribble down my chin and onto my shirt or a chunk of food will come flying out while chatting during the meal. I try to remember all the little rules and regulations my parents taught me about table manners when I was a kid, but that was a long time ago and I never really paid attention anyway.
Besides all we had back then was one fork for the entire meal, so I am still unsure about why they would place three in front of me at the fancy pants eatery.
Wait a minute. Perhaps I was supposed to use a different fork for each of the mini-meals.
Or perhaps I was supposed to…awwww, who cares?