Thursday, March 7, 2013

It Has Never Been Solely About The Food: Dining and its perks

Perhaps this will come off as a very trivial topic, but I feel that much goodness and knowledge can be elicited from even the most seemingly trivial activities if your attitude and mindset are such. The topic for this small symposium I wish to give is on the importance of eating out. All health related thoughts and questions must be disregarded at this juncture. This is for those who struggle to cook, or are blessed in some capacity, making frequent restaurant visits possible. I suffer from an inability to want to cook, and many of my friends share this insidious struggle. So, I think some words on dining out are perfectly apropos.

For me, eating out has never been solely about the contents of the meal. I love food just as much as anyone else, and seek the finest of foods if possible. But I look to glean much more from eating out than having a succulent burger slide down my gullet. A few years ago I decided to keep track of and document every single restaurant I would ever enter. I have currently eaten at 281 restaurants in 4 countries and some 30-35 states. This includes at least 30 pizzerias, 14 Chinese restaurants, and 32 Mexican restaurants.

 This started out as just a fun little thing I did for my own nerdy pleasure. But now it has become something that inspires and motivates me to try new places. When someone says where should we eat, I am always thinking where have I never eaten? This has seemed to flow into other aspects of my life. I always want to try new things, and now when facing a bifurcation I opt to choose the way that has yet to be traveled. In addition to this new attitude I find that I have actually met lots of people in my quest to be a gourmand. I met a lovely girl one night at Wendy's whom I courted briefly while in Philadelphia. I also was able to give her a Book of Mormon and teach her a little bit more about my beliefs. In always asking the names of my garçons and chefs I have formed some awesome acquaintances and friendships.

 One other thing I love about eating out experience is the ambiance. I am no stranger to Mcdonald’s and other fast food chains famous for their lovable grease and questionable cooking techniques. But the restaurants with choice music, aesthetically pleasing decor and other amenities add greatly to the eating experience. Most of all a meal is dictated by who you choose to eat it with. There are few things I treasure more than 2-3 hour lunches with those I am close with. When lunch turns into a long and serious conversation I know it is going to be a good day. I follow the adage of Maurice Chevalier: "I never eat when I can dine."