I find it ridiculous to eat in a (normally) overpriced restaurant with your hands. Eating foodstuffs with your hands in a public place normally involves such hearty fare as fish and chips, pies, burgers and fried chicken; foodstuffs that are often of dubious quality.
Editors Rant – Bloody tapas.
If there's one thing I can't stand at present, it's the rise in popularity of tapas bars. I have nothing against the actual food, (though I always find the portions miniscule, especially the item that purports to be a pie, but in fact turns out to be a mini, or rather, micro-pie). No, what always annoys me about the tapas revolution is the unwritten law that we, the complacent, compliant and ultimately gullible general public must abrogate all initiative and common sense and submit to a set of social rules that have been drawn up by the most loathsome strata of our society, the trendy.
It seems that we the public can't make up our minds on this new fad. We have to be told what to do and how to do it. Otherwise we can't enjoy tapas to the full. And if we couldn't enjoy tapas experience to its very limits, well - where would we be? If we did what we normally do when eating in a tapas bar (like use a knife and fork, like any other sensible, normal human being in the developed world) we would go against the spirit of eating tapas, against communal eating; we would go against the spirit of communal eating, of sharing, of getting in touch with our more gregarious, generous emotional side. Don't you see?
Indeed if we – for whatever reason but mostly, in my case at least, acute embarrassment – refuse to join in this dumb-show of eating with our fingers, loudly over-praising the food or acting in an emotional manner, preferring to eat in silence, we are rebuked either for being stuffy, emotionally malnourished/underdeveloped, or, worst of all, old-fashioned.
Before anyone chastises me for complaining about eating tapas with my hands, well, for one thing, I find it ridiculous to eat in a (normally) overpriced restaurant with your hands. Eating foodstuffs with your hands in a public place normally involves such hearty fare as fish and chips, pies, burgers and fried chicken; foodstuffs that are often of dubious quality. And I, like the rest of the population, partake of fish and chips now and again.
What is interesting to note is that I certainly never see the trendy telling people what to do in Macdonalds or in the chippy queue. If they did, they would, quite rightly, be berated severely for their impudence. If just such a contretemps took place at my local fryer, I'd be only too happy to take a horsewhip to these odious people. You would certainly never hear – as I did once when in an African restaurant with some well-connected members of the Amsterdam trendy liberal elite – gasps of faked astonishment and cries of wonderment when the food was brought to our table. The food, for the record, was a few very, very large pancakes with dollops of meat and vegetable pottage placed on them. Again, for the record, it was very, very tasty. It was certainly not worthy of the odious entreaty, "wow guys, there's plenty for everyone, just help yourselves" – an entreaty which never fails to send me into acute spasms of anger and embarrassment. No, you'd never hear that nonsense down the chippy.
In any case, the legions of trend hounds and idiot savants wouldn't bother entering those kind of fast food outlets. They're too common, see? They are not the fertile breeding grounds for the conspiratorial flummery so beloved of our chattering classes. Fast food outlets, on the whole, strip away the socio-intellectual bullshit that is increasingly being associated with food.
Why should this nonsense be applied to food in the first place? Answering this question I feel brings us close to the root of the problem. As usual in this flippant and banal age, the problem has plenty to do with emotions and ill-defined feelings; normally feelings of inadequacy, (born, it has to be said, of complacency and the mental inertia that is brought on by the knowledge that you, the dissatisfied, have everything you need in this life). In order to assuage these feelings and also sort out the crushing sense of guilt most people from the West have with being relatively prosperous when compared to other, more deprived countries, there is a usually move to adopt something either more primitive (which means in trendy-speak, more real) or rebellious. But, hey, rebellion, is, like, now a trend, in itself, (and marketed ad-nauseum to boot, becoming a mere rite of passage) so that's a no-go. Nope, it has to be the adoption of something more worthy, more real, more unspoilt. Then everyone can, for a moment forget their worries and act out their pseudo-fantasies, (albeit in an incredibly patronising manner). Hence the fucking nonsense that are tapas bars, and trendy cafes and African-theme restaurants (why can't we have a normal African restaurant? Or an African take-away?)
Still, for all the apparent solidarity with the Third World, it's amazing how bloody expensive these places are, eh?
Get thee to a chippy.
Words: Richard Foster.