Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sharing More Than Life

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the US style of dining? I hate ordering my own food, for just me, not really to be shared, not without explicit permission anyhow. It's just so... limiting. Usually I just randomly pick something when a server asks.

One of the greatest joys of eating out, as I learned in China, is being able to sample a variety of flavors I might not otherwise experience. In China, by and large, dishes are ordered to be shared, not hoarded. Two people eating out? Order and share three or four dishes. Ten people? Twelve to fifteen dishes. In a large group, each person may only get one or two bites of some dishes, but that's really all a person needs; flavors diminish after each bite anyway.

In the US, on the other hand... Order your "main dish", get your one or two "sides", and "enjoy". That's what makes eating out with friends in the US so uninteresting. Sure, I ordered catfish, but I'd love to try some of my companions' quiche, or turkey, or falafel. And surely they have interest in others' food, too.

On New Years Eve, for our 6th anniversary* celebration, Liao Sha and I went out to see the new Star Wars movie and then went to a local Mexican restaurant. I'm not really a fan of Mexican, but it was good, as far as that goes. What made the meal wonderful was that we ordered for one another. That is, we ordered food knowing, even assuming, that all would be shared. It was wonderful being able to taste many different flavors and textures. It was fun being able to order for variety. It was wonderful knowing we were sharing the experience with our tastebuds, too.

Now there are many reasons to order for oneself and oneself only. There are hygiene reasons. There are economic reasons. There are medical reasons. Nevertheless, I love that with Liao Sha, I'm not only sharing my life. We're sharing our plates, too.

* Our anniversary is not December 31st, but we were traveling on our actual anniversary, so we used an alternate opportunity.

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