Maki over at Just Bento wrote this week in her Bento Challenge that,
By no means am I saying that everyone should stop eating out. I love going to good restaurants myself. But my reason for going to a restaurant is not really for sustenance. (When I do the household budget, I categorize restaurant meals under â€˜entertainmentâ€™, not â€˜foodâ€™.) Itâ€™s to have a good time – to try out new dishes and wines, enjoy the ambience, and of course to have a good chat with my friends. If you have the time and money to do this every day for lunch, you are probably not reading this anyway! Iâ€™d rather save up by making bentos most of the time, and splurge (entertainment wise and calorie-wise) once in a while.
I feel exactly the same way about eating out. I was so happy to read this idea summed up in this way, and would like to expand upon it.
Today was the first day in three weeks that I did not have a lunch prepared. On the one hand, we did not have enough leftovers last night for a complete lunch, and on the other hand, I have been craving this gyro sold near my office. I decided that the lack of leftovers and my cravings had aligned to allow myself an entertaining little lunch with a treat I could really savor. It also didn’t hurt that the gyro is the second cheapest lunch in my neighborhood.
When I eat out, I like to try to make it an occasion. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive necessarily (heck, I love cheap, greasy, fast food, so sometimes that’s enough). If possible, I just like to maneuver my restaurant or take-out trips so that they are something I will really enjoy and not just because I need to fill my stomach.
This also ensures that I don’t have to waste money buying something that I could make better myself at home. A friend of mine mentioned that she feels that way about sandwiches: why pay upwards of $7 for something you could make at home for under $2 with the works? I agree, although, I don’t mind paying for a really good, huge or unique sandwich. I’m a sandwich fiend. Moving on…
I don’t only look at restaurants and take-out food as entertainment. I look at the food I cook as entertainment as well. I try, as often as possible, not just to sustain myself with the food I cook. I am lucky enough to live in a city where almost any food item is available, and I am lucky enough to have the resources to procure them. I am not just trying to survive. Therefore, I try to make everything I put in my mouth an enjoyable experience. I try to have fun cooking, trying new techniques or new ingredients, mixing things I haven’t mixed before. I try to sit back and taste what I’m eating, and make it an event, if a minor one.
I’d decline to say I’m a food snob in the general sense of the word. I don’t think food as entertainment consists only of “high culinary” French delicacies. Nor do I agree with trendy foodists who are always searching for the latest “thing” in flavor. I eat three times a day. I just try not to let those moments go by unobserved, ordinary. You don’t have to have a food obsession to do this – we all have to eat, so why not use food as something more than body fuel?
So do me a favor: enjoy the next thing you eat. Even if you don’t love it, just take it slowly and pay attention. Does it make you love whatever you are eating just a little bit more? Did it put a little smile on your face?
Sorry for this little aside. I think about food more than anything else, clearly. I hope you all have a delicious day!
About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...