Fausta's blog

Faustam fortuna adiuvat
The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The food pyramid with the fish on top

Thursday evening I enjoyed a most delicious dish: Parmesan trout with Hollandaise sauce served over green beans and potatoes.

The trout was fresh, cooked to perfection, lightly breaded and fried, with just the right amount of Hollandaise to accentuate the flavor of the fish. There was a small wedge of lemon in case you wanted to add some lemon, but the trout was flavored right. You didn't need to cover it up with the taste of lemon. It didn't smell of fish, it smelled of fresh cooking. It nearly melted in your mouth.

The green beans were cooked to the right point, and so were the potatoes.

The dinner was served piping hot, fresh out of the kitchen. You couldn't have made it any better even if you went through all the trouble yourself.

My mouth still waters just thinking of that meal. It was unordinarily delicious. It was especially flavorful. It was the Mozart of trout dishes. Words fail me. Had it been less than perfect it would have been forgettably mediocre.

Our waiter was great. Yes, he was a waiter. He didn't tell me he was my server and didn't tell me his first name. I like that in a waiter. It spares me from feeling that I have the obligation to tell him my first name when we have not been properly introduced.

When our waiter brought the dish, I nearly groaned: it really was the food pyramid. The trout was on top of a hillock of potatoes and green beans. The serving was gynormous.

The amount of food on my dinner plate was nearly three times the amount of food I consume at dinnertime.

Three times.

Not that I'm a picky eater. I'm active, I'm tall, and I love food. I'm not a little woman. I don't sit down to pick on my meal and then settle for a few bites. I have to avoid certain foods because of allergies (soy) and sugar intolerance, so when I have something I like that I tolerate, I enjoy it. When I was in my teens I used to take ballet lessons and I grew nearly ten inches in two years to my current height, so for the longest time I could literally eat for an hour and not gain any weight. Since I had no food intolerances then, I could eat it all.

Mom never had to tell me about the hungry children in China to get me to clear my plate.

Middle-age spread can be a problem and now I do make it a point to exercise more when my clothes feel tight, but I don't diet, particularly because there are a lot of foods I can't have (anything with added sugar, or a lot starchy foods).

So when I tell you that the plate had three times the amount of food I eat in one sitting I mean that it had a gargantuan amount. I can understand that they wanted to serve a trout whole, but surely two cups of green beans and two cups of potatoes is excessive for one person.

I was hungry after spending the whole day sightseeing and having a good time and ate nearly two-thirds of the trout and almost half the green beans, but even that was a huge meal. I would have gladly paid the same price for half the amount of food, and even that would have been too much.

While we hear the food police carry on about transfats, nitrites, childhood obesity, clogged arteries, blocked colons, and all sorts of other evils, I modestly suggest that we allow chefs to do their work unimpeded by "nutritional guidelines". Let the chefs and cooks create as their inspiration guides them, with all the wonderful flavors and ingredients that they can muster. And don't be chintzy with the butter, please.

Instead, simply serve a "small serving". Anyone that's hungry for a really huge amount of food can order appetizer, soup, salad, side dishes and dessert if they want more. The rest of us won't be throwing away so much food. And it will all taste great.

If it were to embrace the "small serving" movement, the food police could take solace in knowing that calorie deprivation will lead to longevity in mice, that less energy is needed to cook fewer potatoes, that fewer garbage trucks would carry what people like myself couldn't consume and was thrown in the garbage. Heck, even the ecologists might join in and come up with pseudodata on carbon gas emmissions to support the "small servings" movement. The puritanical fervor that is poured into today's dietary crusades could be sublimated into more productive activities, such as the creation of a really good no-sugar-added soy-free death-by-chocolate-tunnel-of-fudge cake. Mankind would gain.

And I'd even have room for dessert.

I politely request: smaller portions, please.

Update
Darleen emails,
Great point. However, I want to point out that the restaurant biz is cutthroat. New restaurants are the biggest percentage of new businesses opened every day and the failure rate is also very very high. They operate on very thin profit margins.

consider first the fixed costs - rent, equipment, utilities -- then what they can wiggle on - labor and materials (food). A rest. manager walks the tightrope on labor, trying to schedule just enough for peak hours and making educated guesses on when to cut back when traffic wanes.

While small amounts of food may make sense from a dietary sense, it doesn't from a business sense. Even if they cut the amount they give you, it won't significantly change the price on the menu, due to the fact of fixed costs + labor costs will remain the same. And if Joe and Mary Smith are out on the town twice a month, they are going to feel cheated if restaurant "A" gives them a tiny meal for almost the same $$$ as "B" who loads up the plate. "A" will be out of biz within the year. (I'm not counting high end foo-foo restaurants who used to advertise 'nuveau cuisine' ... tiny amounts artfully arranged on oversized china with oversized prices)

I've learned to ask for a take-home container right at the beginning of the meal and remove about half right away.

Then I can have dessert AND enjoy a tasty lunch the next day.
Mmmm tasty lunch . . .

(technorati tags )
Digg!

3 Comments:

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Darleen said...

It's not even 10 am (in CA) and my mouth is already watering at your description of the dinner! Yum!

If I may, though, say in regards to "smaller sizes" it's a great point; however, I want to point out that the restaurant biz is cut-throat. New restaurants are the biggest percentage of new businesses opened every day and the failure rate is also very, very high. They operate on very thin profit margins.

Consider first the fixed costs - rent, equipment, utilities -- then what they can wiggle on - labor and materials (food). A restaurant manager walks the tightrope on labor, trying to schedule just enough for peak hours and making educated guesses on when to cut back when traffic wanes.

While small amounts of food may make sense from a dietary sense, it doesn't from a business sense. Even if they cut the amount they give you, it won't significantly change the price on the menu, due to the fact of fixed costs + labor costs will remain the same. If Joe and Mary Smith are out on the town twice a month, they are going to feel cheated if restaurant "A" gives them a tiny meal for almost the same $$$ as "B" who loads up the plate. "A" will be out of biz within the year. (I'm not counting highend, foo-foo restaurants who used to advertise 'nouveau cuisine' ... tiny amounts artfully arranged on oversized china with oversized prices)

I've learned to ask for a take-home container right at the beginning of the meal and remove about half right away.

Then I can have dessert AND enjoy a tasty lunch the next day.

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger ptg said...

In Turkey it was common for traditional restaurants to judge the appetites of the diners and derve portions accordingly. If you weren't a regular,they would go by your size and how you went for the typically shared-from-one-bowl salad or soup course.

They always took me for a fat German and gave me a portion and a half of the entree, automatically. I liked it. I gained 150 lbs. It took me two years to get rid of it.

 
At 2:25 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

150 lbs!
I guess you had room for dessert, too :-)

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home