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May 21, 2008

Shallow Thought Wednesday

IWishIHadOrderedIt.jpgLearn something new every day. Each week I poke fun at Mr. Lindner as our Resident Cheeseburger and Wings Expert; and when I read his story today I learn that he's

...not devoid of culinary cred. As a one-time food editor, I've tasted greatness from the hands of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Anne Willan and other foodie dignitaries.

Anyway, Mr. Lindner has now roused himself from his pastoral torpor to submit the following. It's particularly dear to my heart because faithful readers will remember that I suffer from a terminal case of food envy. ...

I feel shame. First I miss a shallow thought. (I had them, but neglected to share.) Now today I’m late and Mr. Pork’s submitted a wonderful pasta rant – sort of the Big Brown of Wednesday reader submissions.

Curiously, the way I feel about this set of circumstances is the same way I feel when I’m out-ordered at a restaurant. I remain outwardly cheery, but inside smoldering envy, self-loathing, larceny -- and the aforementioned shame -- fill my heart.

All of which reminds me of a most effective out-order prevention technique: If you suspect you are about to be out-ordered, order the same meal your rival orders. It has multiple effects:

1. Deflects out-ordering gambits.

2.  Frustrates the rival.

3. If the choice was a poor one, you’re no worse off than your rival and can blame him for tempting you to order the dish in the first place.

(Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:50 AM | | Comments (9)


Aside from the question of why you are dining with a rival (apparantly you consider everyone to be a rival - something I do not understand), I pointedly try to avoid ordering what someone else is ordering so that we both get to see (and taste) a larger range of what a given restaurant produces.

But then you still end up with order envy for not ordering what you really, secretly wanted.
I suppose you could be a really obnoxious dinner companion and just spear food off their plate: that way you have your dinner and their's too.
You could then tell them that you got a part-time job as a restaurant reviewer and it's important that you try all the foods :-)

Order envy is funny. Unless you're in a very familiar restaurant, who makes the best order is more of a luck thing than a skill thing.

When my wife and I eat out, we do tend to notice who ordered the best. But if I've had a run of several bests, I'm kind of glad when she gets sort of restores the balance of the universe.

Exactly why do we care about these posts? They are kind of dull. I would rather see more crazy rants than droll musings. What do you say to this? I think the number of posts today confirms this.

A good question. I would say there's room for crazy rants and droll musings. It's a big internet, unlike the print edition. And unfortunately the number of posts under an entry confirms very little. For instance, last week's Shallow Thought Wednesday had 62 comments. EL

John Silverton--no one says you have to care. There is something for everyone here.

We try to prevent food envy by dinning out with a friend or friends. We then carefully coordinate the offerings and we all try everything. We do try to do this as subtlety as possible so as not to offend anyone else dinning nearby.

Of course, I do sometimes end up like one of the other's dishes better, but at least I've had a taste and will know what to order next time.

Hal Laurent, VoR, Emporer of the West, what is "best?" "Best" is not a fixed menu choice - what is "best" today is not what would've been "best" yesterday, and what is "best" tomorrow will likely be something different. For me, "best" is a function of many things: Time of day; who I am with; what else I've had to eat recently; the type of day I've had; how hungry I am; and, of course, where I am dining. Plus many other things.

There I go, again, philosophising without a license.

SusanWNAJ brought up an interesting point: "You could then tell them that you got a part-time job as a restaurant reviewer and it's important that you try all the foods."

This may have been discussed elsewhere on D@L over the past year, or even in a feature story. How do you go about writing about all of the dishes during a restaurant visit? Do you sample from everyone's plate or rely on their own opinions? Just wondering. Thanks!

Elizabeth, invite me to help you review a restaurant and you can eat all you want from my plate!

That's what they all say at the beginning. :-) EL

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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