May it Please the Palate

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I once wasted two hours of my life on a really terrible movie, “Made of Honor.” It was one of those where a woman (“Hannah”) is about to get married, but the man who has a crush on her (“Tom”) wants to stop it on the eve of the wedding. The Scotsman she is going to marry (“Colin”) is ostensibly perfect. He is handsome, strong, wealthy, and kind. But there was one thing Colin did that caused Hannah to question her commitment, and ultimately break the engagement, the night before the wedding.

At the rehearsal dinner, they served dessert, a different one to each guest. Hannah looked over at the cake that was served to her husband-to-be and reached over with her fork. He stopped her. He pushed the plate aside, carefully cut his cake in half, and put the other half on her plate.

Despite this seeming act of generosity, that was a dealbreaker. Hannah was conflicted with doubt. Tom used the opportunity to interrupt the wedding, and steal Hannah away from now imperfect Scotsman.

Looks? Meh. Wealth? Who cares? Kindness, consideration, and honor? Forget about it! He wouldn’t let his bride-to-be share from his plate!

I grew up in a culture where food was meant to be shared. A giant Greek salad bowl would sit in the middle of the table. After the salad was gone, we dipped our bread into the wonderful dressing. And double-dipped, until the “zumo” was all gone. If you had something on your plate that cousin Nick wanted, there wasn’t much you could do to stop him - his behemoth-ness notwithstanding.

Food sharing is evolutionary. For many, “sharing the kill” was necessary for existence. At one extreme, mothers even pre-masticate their food and feed it to their infants orally. Others routinely eat “family style,” such as in Asian cultures, where everyone eats from the same dishes or “hot pots” (you’ve been to restaurants with the rotating inner circle in the center of the table, so everyone can share each dish).

More alarming is stealing food off others’ plates. Some ask, some don’t, depending on the relationship. On dates, it can be a dealbreaker. For example, the boy will start grabbing French fries from the girl’s plate without asking. This will either be the last time he’ll ever see her, or hopelessly endearing to the young woman.

As for me, if you order French fries, I’m going to reach across and have some. I might grudgingly ask first, but only if we haven’t met yet. 

And if you don’t let me take any, you can be sure I’m calling off the wedding..