While looking for a new novel to read, because honestly I’m obsessed with avoiding homework by reading a book a day, I came across this quote on the inside flap of the the novel “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler:
“You will develop a palate. A palate is a spot on your tongue where you remember. Where you assign words to the textures of taste. Eating becomes a discipline, language obsessed. You will never simply eat food.”
The quote caught my eye because it made me feel something. All of the sudden I understood food. I understood why chefs were so emotional, and why the restaurant business is such a pain in the ass to work in. You have to feel something, not just taste the sweet, salty or bitter flavor that comes in all sorts of textures. The restaurant as a whole becomes an experience rather than just a meal. A performance of sorts, with the food in the leading role in this tale of new language for new emotions.
I used to work in a restaurant when I was younger. I’m not saying it was some upscale restaurant in the middle of Manhattan like the one in the novel. But it wasn’t just some Pizza Ranch or Applebee’s either.
When I was hired I was taught to treat the guests in a way that will make them remember me in the best of ways. Bring the food in a timely manner, but don’t rush the order. Cover the stalled time between the guest sitting the food arriving with grace and conversation. Explain the emotions connected to the wine and pair each wine eloquently with its complementary dish.
As I stated before, food has become an emotion, and the dance it does on our tongues should teach us something new.
I understand the majority of you reading this are scoffing and wondering why this is something worth discussing. We are in college after all, with barely enough money to buy a cheap bottle of wine to destress on a Wednesday. But try to remember while you are eating your next dish that food is meant to be experienced. Instead of living to eat, rather eat to live and love the food you eat.