15 October 2006

Dining With Monkeys

At some point in the near future, I'm going to do a roundup of Memphis wine and food bloggers. I'm not sure how many locals read this blog, but there's an increasing number of us writing around here. Once I get a list together, I'll give it a special section over in the left column blogroll. (If you want to be included, drop me a line.) I do have to give a mention to one tonight, though. Dining With Monkeys, a blog focused on local restaurant reviews by people with small children. Some funny stories (probably less so if you were there), but it's interesting to see what the perspective of a restaurant is like when you've got small kids.

Admittedly, I don't like being around screaming children in a restaurant. If a baby's crying, I know that can't be helped, but if elementary-school age children are running around and throwing things, it bugs me. I had an incident at a local Mexican restaurant a few months ago, in which I was led to my table for one only to have a nearby kid fling a ramekin of cheese dip onto my table. I elected to sit at the bar instead. Good tip, by the way--if you want to avoid kids altogether and don't mind the smoke, grabbing a seat at the bar or in the smoking section isn't a bad strategy.

When I was a kid, my parents were pretty strict about proper restaurant manners and dinner etiquette. (And since my parents are now reading this blog, thank you, thank you, thank you.) Basically the procedure was to nail down the training at home, and then test it out at a casual restaurant, and then at a nice restaurant. Whether at a backard BBQ or at a wedding reception dinner, proper form was required at all times. It's odd how some of that sticks with you... I can't remember precisely when I was taught to eat with chopsticks, just that it was the polite way to eat Chinese and Japanese foods. I still eat pizza with a fork--something that my friends find crazy. Honestly, if I'm alone in my room, in front of the computer with a slice of pizza and a beer after a long day at work, I've got a fork there. And a napkin in my lap.

That's not to say that I can't have fun. There's really no dignified way to eat barbequed ribs or Buffalo wings. I mean, you can keep from making your fellow diners sick, but you're still going to have grease and sauce on your face and up to your wrists. And I'll admit, the last time I roasted a duck my friend and I pretty much just tore the thing apart and ate it by hand.

The following is not a critique of existing parents, but rather something I've been thinking about. I know a lot of kids these days that just won't eat many foods, and find the concept of "adult food" completely alien. If it's not heavily processed or sweetened or fried, they won't eat it. But there's nothing biological about small children that prevents them from enjoying the same good food as their parents. That's how kids eat in most of the rest of the world. I'm particularly impressed with the French in this regard; while not every Frenchman is a gourmand, they do get exposed to rich and varied flavors from early on. If your first exposure to asparagus was in mashed form before you had teeth, then you're probably not going to be averse to it later on in life.

Seriously, do you think that cuisines like Thai and Jamaican and Indian and Vietnamese would have survived this long if the kids were all raised on bland, flavorless food? There's a world of food out there beyond the chicken nugget!

1 comment:

Allen said...

The look of terror on a parent's face after witnessing their child launch a 10 inch piece of spaghetti over two tables, have land on the patron's ear and wrap around his glasses. A true Kodak momment.