I’d rather cook my own food at home than eat in a restaurant. Well, nine times out of ten at least.
There is usually a waiter that comes to pick your order. I know it is their job, and an honest job at that, and I always leave a good tip, but still, I am always conscious of their presence. Of how they have to wait for me to make up my mind what to order, which is never easy, for I am hesitant by nature. Of how they hide their annoyance behind a polite smile.
And then of course they have to take the trouble to bring the bottle of water that I invariably order and uncap it and pour three quarters of it into my glass – all this while I feel quite superfluous.
The table next to mine is usually taken, and since I speak softly, the voices coming from it may at times cover mine. This means that the person at the other end of my table often asks me to repeat what I have just said.
I may repeat my words as many times as needed, but I cannot speak my mind as freely in a restaurant as say on the street or in the park.
For the setting always influences the conversation. And while mediums such as blogs often invite deep reflections and meditations upon life, the restaurant all too often brings the trivial into the discussion.
The restaurant setting encourages a sort of friendly and often light conversation that by its nature is supposed to be a kind of seasoning to the food, and not attract anyone’s attention, but be carefully bound within the etiquette of good table manners. Subconsciously so.
And then the fork is invariably too big and too heavy for me. I have rather small hands (my cutlery at home is rather boyish).
And the plate always seems to take the better part of my half of the table, so that I’m never quite sure what to do with my elbows.
As to the bill, eating in a restaurant always seems expensive, even if the food and the company more than justify it. The ascetic in me, the thrifty spirit that guides most of my purchases, reproaches me somewhat after every restaurant dinner:
“You could have eaten twice as much at home for half the bill,” it tells me, “and not felt half as bad for the hungry people in Africa.”
And last but not least, I cannot of course eat with my hat on but have to take it off. Etiquette, they call it.
So that for all these reasons and some others, I’d rather sup at home than dine in a restaurant, even if this may call at times for a scaling down of flavors.
But then of course there are those occasions when one must meet a friend or two, or seek shelter from the rain while on a date, or simply pacify one’s hunger. And for all these occasions, and some others, a restaurant isn’t only tolerable, but often the best solution.
And then I will let myself be taken to a restaurant without protest, and sometimes even with a bit of curiosity and some enjoyment. For there are worse ways to pass an evening than in eating and in conversation.
So that if you ever visit Romania and invite me to a restaurant, it will be hard for me to refuse you.