Sunday, 10 January 2010

Restaurant as the spiritual homeland

Part Two

And then, as were all huddle together round the candles something goes wrong in our little restaurant community. There's a shrill little voice from the back and it says: 'but what about me?' All of a sudden we have a gluten intolerant vegan, someone that only eats organic vegetables, or someone who only eats humanely killed fish (they'll be lucky). And these plaintive little voices are always justified on serious health grounds.

But it's never really about the ingredients or health, its about attention. The good waiter promises something unique ('like my mother used to make') throws together some random ingredients and takes it back with a flourish. S/he is greeted with raptures, the problem is solved, the ignored child gets the fake love and everybody is happy – especially the waiter with the tip.

I'm only having a go at about eight million people in the UK, so I think I can push it a little. Vegetarianism, food fads, or allergies are sometimes the fall-outs from family battles. A child wants to exert some power – do it with food – make the parents jump through hoops.

Feeling ignored in your work – make the chef pick out all the yellow food from their carefully constructed dish – or even better construct your own.

Diabetic, lactose-intolerant, nut-allergic, we can cope: one quiet mention and we're sorted. But this is not what's going on. In the same way that late-arrivals use it to draw attention to themselves people use food to do the same. 'I'm Special'. Yes, you truly are.

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