WrestOrRant

smallplates
"I'd really prefer to depart with something other than notching in my belt on my mind."

One phrase strikes terror into my soul: Small Plates. Tapas run a close second place. I never know these days what I'll find when I step into restaurant or diner. Dinner might await me there, but it seems increasingly likely that I'll find little more than a feast fit only for a Barbie® doll and her friends. The menu might not describe the portion size, misleading my mind into believing that just because it promises roasted winter veg that they won't come reduced to a meager puddle almost obscuring the three (count 'em, three) halved fingerling potatoes vainly trying to avoid suffocation. The lamb chop up top, so encrusted with heirloom herbs and crap that it appears to have been a stillborn mistake from a faulty EZBake oven in the back. I'm still hungry just looking at it, the plate that would be supper. I'm still hungry after, so I order another consoling beer and ask the waiter to bring me a pile of fries like that woman's plate over there. He does not charge me for this supplement to my meager supper.

Restaurant has come to mean, loosely translated from the original French, "leave hungry."
Diners have become nibbling bars, menus with more pages dedicated to describing cleverly named cocktails and the predictably extensive local craft brew choices than to portraying actual food. The appetizer section alone typically offers many more choices than the rest of the minuscule food offerings, dessert included, of the damned thing, just in case I just happened to drop in to perhaps fill an eyetooth while getting myself good and sloshed, all the better to condition myself for the check, which (finally) brings the biggest bite of the meal. It would have been a steal had an actual meal managed to manifest before me. I leave wondering where I might next go to get more than a faint bite of supper, but slink home to sleep off the beers instead.

These places speak glowingly of sharing plates before delivering tiny platters with toothpicks standing in as serving utensils, their contents being altogether too tiny to be subdued using conventional tableware. One feels moved to hoard rather than to share, and only those 'creations' one does not really care for ever get passed beyond the one who, regretfully, ordered it. My hands cannot quite pick up the slider, a form of burger fashioned after a quarter flattened on glass. The salad will likely be a scant forkful of vague reminiscence of what salad once embodied. Entrees rarely pass beyond the front porch, nattering just out of reach of fork or spoon, wanting a pinch of two fingers or another toothpick through the back. I hear a sad and solitary mantra repeating itself, saying, "You're leaving hungry or drunk, and probably both." Helluva appreciation for my patronage. I'll try my very best to never come back.

Legend has it that some genuine dinner houses still exist, ones where a family might quietly lick the meatloaf special gravy from their plates without appearing displaced, joints where a slice of pie would not be denied and nobody ever leaves hungrier than they choose to be. Places where every goddamned thing streaming from the back kitchen has not been cursed with some heritage, heirloom, or lovingly hand-crafted spell. Must the genealogy of every blessed tomato try to seduce me into surrendering my soul to its siren song? Gimme a plate of liver 'n onions, a hunk of genuine chicken not stolen too young from the nest. Bless me with something other than Dragon Breath-imparting truffled fries along the side. I won't insist upon waddling on my way out, but I'd really prefer to depart with something other than notching in my belt on my mind.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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