Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Serve Meals to the Picky

Meals bring a challenge to me because I have very strict rules about how things need to be served (also eaten, but that's another post).

First off, I am a food separatist, i.e. I like my foods to not touch one another.  Nothing freaks me out more than the juices of one food touching another food, and don't even get me started on the random pickle with its nasty pickle juice placed aside, and ruining, a perfectly good sandwich.  No, you can't just move the pickle off the plate.  The juices remain, and inevitably have already at least partially been soaked up by the poor defenseless sandwich.  Dwelling on such tragedy protects me from having to think about other, more important and unsettling things.  I can't tell you what a nightmare it is when the juice from the green beans mingles with the gravy or, God forbid, actually touches the potatoes or the bread.  The horror of it all!  I believe all plates should be segmented like those old school lunch trays -- a place for everything and everything in its place.

Second, there are certain foods that are definitely to be served and eaten together as one.  Good examples of this are mashed potatoes and gravy or cake and ice cream.  Of course these things come with their own difficulties, the biggest being the proportional balance of each bite.  Running out of either food means wasting what is left of the other food because one cannot be expected, once tuned to the goodness of the combination, to actually eat one or the other foods without each other.  Therefore, I employ a rather painstaking process of making sure I maintain as close as possible to even proportions bite to bite that will allow finishing both components at the same time.  It's easier if the server takes care to serve the foods in the proper proportion to begin with.

Third, there are certain foods that should definitely never be served and eaten together as one. The one that particularly bugs me these days is gravy and cheese.  What?!?!?  In my book, that's a sin against nature.  The dish requires cheese, or it requires gravy.  It NEVER requires BOTH.  Given this seems to be the new "in thing" at restaurants to put both gravy and cheese in certain dishes I have become very careful to read descriptions on menus and ask to have one or the other (depending on the dish it could be the cheese most frequently or the gravy rarely) left off.  Also, meatloaf is one of those foods that generally falls under the category of serve with gravy.  However, if the meatloaf is one that is baked with the ketchup on top, then there should be no gravy. 

I have no idea why the rest of the world doesn't understand these rules.  They seem so natural to me.  It isn't like I thought them up.  It just is the order of things... at least in my warped mind.

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