In the past week many of us wrote about the kind of things we are judgemental about which also included what we cannot stand, what makes us avoid people,what grosses us out, what we positively detest in people. It is funny how a lot of us cannot stand something and yet there is a large chunk of humanity that continues to do that very thing blissfully unaware or insensitively insistent.Not much one can do- especially if one is married to a card carrying member of the opposite camp.Well, you can blog about it and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone if anyone bothers to leave a comment agreeing with your peeve. There is nothing more comforting to the human heart than the fact that you are not alone in your misery and someone else is equally or more miserable. Life seems so fair.You might even look upon the perpetrator of the misery with a little understanding next time.
Anyway that was not the purpose of this post.

While I was reading the long lists of what we cannot stand, some totally irrational, I realised that we humans have a tendency for the exact opposite too - to be fascinated by some habits/ attributes/ mannerisms/ types of behaviour. Not heroic virtues but simple habits which you are attracted to for no reason.
For example I am extremely fascinated by fastidious eaters - you know the type who completely ignore the elaborate description on the menu card and tell the maitre d' how they want their salad? the ingredients, the dressing and the way they want it arranged in the bowl/plate? or how they want their ice cream with hot chocolate sauce around not on top and nuts on top not around etc?
Like the scene in the film "When Harry met Sally - remember this conversation?

Waitress: Hi, what can I get ya?

Harry: I'll have a number three.

Sally: I'd like the chef salad please with the oil and vinegar on the side and
the apple pie a la mode.

Waitress: Chef and apple a la mode.

Sally: But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top I
want it on the side and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it
if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real if it's out
of a can then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie, but then not heated.

Waitress: Uh huh.

Well I am the type who, like Harry, says "I'll have a number three" and eat it with a smile and leave a 20% tip and leave with contentment. So I am extremely fascinated by those sallies who can be so clear about what they want and how they want it.

And I get fascinated by watching people who handle their food like it is a piece of art. Once I went to a restaurant with this friend from Portugal and he ordered some fish steamed "just so" and then topped with butter. Then he ate it so beautifully that anytime you looked at his plate it seemed lovely - you know the way work in process pieces of art sometimes have a way of looking lovely all the way to their finish? It was like that - only in reverse! You could have taken it and served it to someone else! When he was done there was just the beautiful unbroken skeleton of the fish on the clean plate, still looking lovely. As i write this I can relive how delicious it felt just looking at that plate although I have no clue how that fish tasted.

This is why I love watching meal scenes in films - remember America's sweethearts where Julia Roberts decides to indulge her depression by hogging pancakes and butter in the restaurant? ummmmmmmm, made me drool so much that I went and made a couple of pancakes,slathered butter on top, drowned it in maple syrup and ate it at 10:30 in the night while watching the film! I am crazy that way!!
But remember,NOT any meal scene. It must be eaten beautifully, just the right amount shovelled into the mouth and eaten with mouth closed and no talking with food in the mouth and the right expression indicating bliss. Not the way Joey attacks food in Friends. Food must be treated like a piece of art -not like food, for me to want it!! Didn't I tell you I am crazy?

I am also fascinated by some friends who come to parties and eat parathas and oily gravy with their fingers without even staining the tip of their nails and their lipsticks remain intact throughout. And here I cannot drink a glass of water without wiping my lipstick clean!!I sometimes have a suspicion that they don't eat but just hold their plate as they are worried about their lipstick and fingers. Perhaps they go home and mix a large bowl of rice and sambar and attack it with abandon and then lick their palm and fingers clean for a good measure. Must be such a release!

These "fine" dining habits may actually say nothing at all of the other person - outside of this one fascinating habit, the person could be a total Bush or Osama Bin Laden which you might realise later. But then I always remember them with a little lenience because of this. Totally unreasonable, wouldn't you say? But hey, no one is perfect!
22 Responses
  1. Blogeswari Says:

    A friend of mine was a part of the 'DCH' film crew, in-charge of the props etc and she mentioned that this 'P'hamous actress was extremely fussy about her salad that she was supposed to have, on screen.. and Madam P went on and on about yes to green leaves, no to red leaves, yes to olives, no to that dressing.. yes to this dressing, no to that topping..

    My friend almost fainted at the end of the shot, she added :)

  2. Sunita Says:

    Same for me, on No.3 :). Yeah even any mention of make it light or heavy or fluffy, according to me is a very fussy eater ...but thatz just me.
    I had one colleague order veg fried rice in the UK and added "no egg, no mushrooms and no spring onions". The waiter wouldn't leave the table since he thought it was a joke of some sort :).

  3. wow... makes me drool just the way u described the food... I used to have a classmate who used to break up a peanut into halves them eat each half in 3 bites.. alittle too much naa!! SPEAKING ABT drooling over others food, somehow whatever my mom dishes up for my brother seems extremely attractive to me ! don't know why!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I'm pretty much a No 3 too. Lovely post! Wandered here from Rational Fool...will come back.

  5. dipali Says:

    Totally droolworthy, delicious post!

  6. lol at being married to the other half. Wicked, but very very true!

    Am a 3 person myself.

    I get irritated with people who are so conscious of how they are eating, that they forget to enjoy the food.
    I agree that Joey takes it to extremes, but treating food like a piece of art- dunno.
    I do love food to be presented very well, that's an appetiser in itself.

  7. ~nm Says:

    Haha..really loved teh way you described with differnet styles of eating.

    Like you, I also get mesmerised with the mal scenes in movies/serials. And its true, its how they eat that make us drool or not drool over the food without knowing how it tastes like.

    If its something yummy, I don't care of I'm messing my hands or eating my own lipstick. For e.g I just looooooooove to eat daal-rice or rajma-rice or chhole-rice or sambhar-rice or kadhi-rice with hands! They taste nothing when eaten with a spoon.

    And this is why I get a bit nervous when I go out in fancy restaurants for dinners as I don't know if I'm eating the right way :P

  8. I loved this portion - "I am also fascinated by some friends who come to parties and eat parathas and oily gravy with their fingers without even staining the tip of their nails and their lipsticks remain intact throughout. And here I cannot drink a glass of water without wiping my lipstick clean!!".
    I am like you and I have seen people like your friends. I really envy them. But then you never know...they might just go home and eat sambar rice like how you have described ;) This makes me feel better :)

  9. Usha Says:

    Bloggie:hahaha. She does come across as trouble - a bit primadonna -ish. Wonder what they must be like in their houses!

    Sunita:May be she just wanted plain rice!

    ITW:Wow, a peanut in six bites - is this friend a squirrel by any chance?

    anindita:Welcome. Thanks and pls do come back.

    Dipali::) Thank you.

    JLT: I think it is a matter of training. It is also possible that these people never sit down to eat when they are really hungry. Perhaps they meet for the conversation and perhaps the meal is just incidental and for display of their finesse!(or perhaps I am just being B$%chy)

    nm:Oh yes I love all those combinations too - never mind messing up the fingers.
    I know what you mean about these fancy restaurants - you get a constant nagging feeling that the waiter is judging you!

    CoS:Oh ya meal at a five star hotel is fine occasionally but for my hunger give me my rice and dal and the finest cutlery Nature fashioned for me!

  10. Hip Grandma Says:

    I love to keep my lipstick intact and eat a full meal.Only thing i never wear lipstick.I get very nervous when these 'lipstickers' arrive on the scene looking so much in control of the situation with the tips their hankies wiping away the smallest trace of food on their lips.For my part I enjoy a good meal and hope no one takes notice of me and concentrates on their food.BTW way could you refer me to your Portugese friend.i'd like to greet him with folded hands.

  11. Ardra Says:

    Dear usha, need to contact you via e mail / phone...please help - referred to u'r profile- could'nt find ...please help.

  12. WhatsInAName Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. WhatsInAName Says:

    I agree I agree( as always!)
    I appreciate connoisseurs of food.
    Like you said, its an art indeed to enjoy and eat food. I wish I could be like that but alas, I am as clumsy as can be! Careless is the word. The worst part is being focussed by the videographer in the marriages. I get extremely conscious!
    I like some other kind of eaters too. I especially envy the GUJJU co-passengers when I travel long distance by train. They know how to enjoy making and eating food! Sigh!

  14. Usha Says:

    Oh yes I wish I could have videod Manuel eating!

    WIN:Oh the videographers , how I run from them and how they chase me with a vengeance and capture me with a big chunk of vadai in my mouth!

  15. I am a different kind though. Being a pure vegetarian living in NZ, on the rare occasions that we go to restaurants with colleagues, I order vegetarian pizzas (a contradiction in terms here) sans cheese (they contain rennett), sans mushrooms and leave my friends dumbfounded and pondering over the question - what's left there to eat?

  16. O I'm a No 3 person too - but Ilike to try new and different stuff...mostly I'm afraid to make changes in the chef's preparations. I beleive the chef will put his best efforts on the menu item and when changes are made it just changes the equilibrium of the dish.
    Sounds stupid, I know...maybe lazy even...not wanting to upset the apple cart perhaps...dont know....

  17. Unknown Says:

    exceot fot when I am at home, I am usually mroe than happy with the food put in front of me.. that makes me sound like a glutton!!
    SOmething which I love to watch is Food network here..I am a veggie but every dish looks sumptuous they way they make it...yummm and so spoke a foodie :)

  18. Anonymous Says:

    WIN, :) at the comment on gujjus (am one myself). you should see my mom pack the 'bhaatu' for a train journey. sadly those skills havent got transferred to me!

  19. A.R.Malik Says:

    made a sad discovery when I was out of the country briefly- I'm a culinary coward!

    Didn't try the famous Maryland crabcakes and assorted seafood specials coz the thought of those critters being boiled alive for my pleasure was a bit unappetizing. This selective squeamishness was, of course, irrational, since I've no issues with devouring chicken and mutton.

    You'd mentioned the same Portugese friend in a conversation we had way back, and his opinion about Indian cooking: the fact that we destroy all the flavors of our food by drowning everything in spices.

    Sure we do. But after trying a limited number of "other" cuisines, I'll hapily stick to the standard north indian fare- and I'll shovel it in with my fingers too. No worries about the lipstick, y'see.

  20. Mahadevan Says:

    Eating without irritating others, is an art. One needs to be a little courageous in being fastidious at a public place. i prefer Milagaipodi spread over my bread like chutney or paruppodi ( kalthupodi), served separately untinged with oil or ghee, leaving it to me to dip the rice in the manner I want - all in the confines of my home when I am alone.

    At public places, I am a conformist.

  21. Usha Says:

    Bala:Exactly why pizzas? might as well have something else.

    StS:That is my reason too _ I believe the chef knows better than I do.

    random:Yes, the art of presentation that is another thing. Everything looks mouthwatering.

    Namvor: hey, don't let these skills die. Learn them!:)

    Culinary coward - aha, aren't most of us that!
    Yes, I learnt alot about food and eating it from Manuel.

    No lipstick, but fingers. No problem licking them?

    Mahadevan: Ah milagapodi on bread - must try.

  22. :) this post made me smile...bad eating habits are the bane of my know, at guji weddings there is never any cutlery,..we eat with our fingers jaar!! even the salad,,then the grubby paws digging in the salad, so i would be the guest who has to go home on the empty stomach :)