I’ve written about various other annoying food traditions, (such as only getting one napkin at dinner), but there’s another one that continually bothers me, and sometimes it can embarrass me. My mouth is a normal human mouth and when I eat food, I take a bite and chew just like the next guy. What I don’t understand is when I go to the restaurant, why is it that my food comes with pieces of ingredients that are impossible to eat properly? I buy spaghetti and the pieces are too big to ingest in one bite, are difficult to cut or twirl completely onto a fork. I know it’s tradition, but why not make spaghetti shorter? OK, that would be blasphemous so let’s leave spaghetti alone. Let’s focus on sandwiches then. When I get a sandwich, the portabella mushroom are so large that and incomplete bite causes the whole piece to slide out of the sandwich, usually onto my lap. For large leaves of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, it’s all the same story. If you’re lucky, they stay on your plate and you can try to reassemble the sandwich the way it was meant to be, but it never ends up right. Or you could eat those ingredient bits later with utensils, but that makes you look exceedingly hungry. Add sauce or marinade to the sandwich and it’s an even bigger mess. Then you really need more than one napkin.
Salads are no better. How am I supposed to cut the lettuce on a fluffy pile of other veggies? Large onion pieces often end up hanging half out of your mouth. Dressing makes it more difficult and then chickpeas, croutons, and all those other little ingredients come along with the lettuce for a ride, usually ending up on the lap of the person next to me.
I propose that we right-size the pieces of ingredients we include in salads and sandwiches. Not too big, not too small, just right. How about bite-sized? What a concept. If you can’t stab it with a fork, make it spoonable. I’m sure it will take more work in the back kitchen, but we usually pay a lot of mark-up for food at restaurants anyway. And home cooking won’t require too much extra effort. I just can’t start cutting my sandwiches into little pieces. That would be a solution more embarrassing than the problem.