Experiencing Food with Varinder

Last night I was pouring champagne for a table of three when one of the group told me that it was his Birthday. Only with a tone of voice that said, we are in your hands this evening.

Happy Birthday! I wished him with a smile. I followed up with, Whatever birthday you’re celebrating, you really don’t look your age!

He had to think about that for a few seconds before all three realized I was trying to be funny, and laughed.

But it made me think. He looked my age (57) and here he was with his brother and sister. They were siblings. All a similar age. All hell-bent on having a good time. And all looking forward to whatever it was that we had in store for them.

Unlike these three, V and I only ever dine in restaurants to try out the food. Not to have an experience. This means, to the waiter’s surprise, we order many starters and main courses. Because we want to try everything.

These three didn’t need to order anything, the menu was fixed. There were no choices to be made. Yet when V and I eat out, ordering most things on the menu isn’t just about sampling. It’s about understanding how the kitchen works.

For example, in one well-known vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, we discovered that many of the mains are deep-fried. Which means they were par-cooked beforehand. This is neither good nor bad. But it’s not fresh. We would never have known this by ordering 2 mains and 2 starters.

The problem with how V cooks (it’s a problem for us and not for customers) is she makes everything, I mean everything, from scratch, on the day so that it’s timed to be ready just before people arrive. Which is how we always cook for our own dinner parties at home. And it’s how Vs mum and grandmother prepared food for the extended family every single day when she was growing up.

We have no idea how to cook food to order from a menu. But my goodness how easy would it be to have all the dishes almost ready and simply assembled to order?

When our three siblings walked into the restaurant, they gladly resigned themselves to an experience (their words not mine). They had placed themselves in Varinder’s hands. It was a birthday celebration that they had trusted Varinder with. What an honor.

When placing the dishes on the table, I make a point of describing each dish again. As a reminder. I noticed they were low on champagne.

Would you like another glass?

Will it go with our starter?

Of course!

Then let’s do it.

Even the drinks are up to us. They really are diving into the unknown.