I subscribe to pretty simple food principles. I mean I'm not averse to eating complex flavours or reading about them but I'm unlikely to fluff about with dry ice or blow torches in my own kitchen. I'm dangerous enough with a match and a gas oven. French sauces and complicated baking leave me uninspired. I'd be wandering the whole time what's going to go wrong. That Julia Child blog experiment aint me.
When I eat out, I detest menus that require me to flip more than a page or two. I like to read literature, not the stocktake of every ingredient in the restaurant's larder in a tome of a menu. In Asian restaurants I can get away with demurring to others as the dishes inevitably end up centre of the table, shared. In my beloved streetfood eateries, there are no menus to negotiate.
I love the one dish fits all style of dining.
In restaurants of other worlds where people covet their own menu choices, I have to rise up from my indolent torpor to participate in the process, the 'I-know-what-I'm-having' excitement. Sometimes this is fun, even funny. When my dining companions say things like "I'm going to choose something different" or they, at the last minute, revert to what they always have or they choose an item that I know they will hate. The slightly perturbed looks on faces when the plate turns up and it's not quite what they had in their mind's eye. My sister, a great cook and informed eater, paws over the menu so carefully and so excited that she's escaped the three kids for the evening. Almost without fail, at the end of the evening she turns to me and says "I made the wrong choice....again."
And we laugh.
Twisted? Conceited even. Call it what you will but I invariably make the right choice. I think about where I am and what they are likely to do well. I'm not swayed by the gastro-poetry or the sometimes odd ingredient combinations. I go for simple flavour marriages that I know to be true.
The other night at the bia hoi, I picked the clams humbly steamed with lemongrass and ginger.
What I didn't anticipate though was the vivid green and orange dipping sauce that had me twitching and wiping at my nose like a coke fiend after each clam got dipped and deposited.
Wasabi and chili.
Didn't mention that in the bloody menu.