Eating out is one I activity I enjoy the most. It never fails to brighten up my day or light up or bring a goofy smile on my face. When someone cannot tell me the exact name of the dish they had I feel annoyed. No, saying I had chicken won’t do with me. I need to know exactly which chicken :-?. It’s not just the food part that is the most enjoyable for me. It’s the whole preparation that goes into it. It starts right from choosing the correct restaurant for the day keeping in mind the preferences of your friends. My friends let me inform you are lazy bums of the first degree. They will each individually tell me to make outing plans but will come up with none themselves. So the entire arduous task of deciding that ideal time and venue falls on my slim shoulders (ok not that slim now :-/ ). After making around dozen calls and sending some more messages to coordinate everything we finally land up in the restaurant which everyone has agreed on. Phew!
After settling down we get busy chatting and catching up, leaving the poor waiter hovering around our table with his notepad. Absolutely no one of them feel any pity for the poor waiter except me. So I wave the menu card in front of their noses and remind them to order. But no! I get the menu card thrust under my nose and is made to order for everyone. Did I mention my friends are lazy bums? I then take to playing mother goose quieting down everyone for a minute or so to ask everybody's preferences. This is the toughest part since my friends never seem to be out of topics to talk about. Well since this happens almost all the time I almost know everyone’s preference by rote. :D Who doesn't eat onion and garlic, who is a vegetarian, who doesn't like paneer, who loves pasta.etc etc. I decide a dish then put it to vote. If it doesn’t get a majority or gets vetoed altogether then it’s back to square one. All this while the waiter would have hovered over our table and left at least thrice. So through this process of voting we arrive at a consensus. Sometimes though we skip the voting process altogether. This happens when my friends get exasperated with me and ask me to order anything and agree to eat it without blaming me if it turns out anything less than delectable. I make sure that I am exonerated of this blame only then I order without consulting.
Then comes the giving order to the waiter part. This is the time I become very finicky. If the menu does not describe the preparation for the dish, I make it a point to make the poor waiter (notice how he is becoming poorer by the minute) do it. I ask about the sauce base used, how does it taste (mildy spicy, very spicy, sweet :P ) whether it will have mushrooms as ingredient, (I am not a fan of mushrooms you see) etc etc. This is the time I get unkind stares and amused smiles from my friends because they are all waiting for me to finish with my interrogation. And oh did I tell you ordering involves a lot of brain storming too when you have vegetarians friend with you. It involves getting the correct combination of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes so that we don't exceed our budget or waste food.
When the food is served and we begin eating, if any one of my friend compliments a dish of my selection my face acquires a glow as if it was me that had laboured in the kitchen to prepare it. When the food does not go down well with my friends I take it personal affront and feel apologetic about it and mumble excuses like it tasted good when I had it in a different restaurant. And I absolutely cannot see good food being wasted so in case we over order and are over stuffed I play mother hen again and serve a little bit on everyone's plate and cajole them to finish it off. I go, "See just a little bit everyone, yes there you go, we can finish it off, there is no need to waste."
Now from the whole description you might wonder why I enjoy eating out so much when I make such a fuss about it and make it sound like such a cumbersome process. Well to me it is not. The whole process of choosing the restaurant , getting there, studying the menu ardently, deciding the various combination of dishes gets me excited to put it mildly and hyper to tell you the truth. But most of all the friends I am surrounded with makes it so enjoyable. I like it that they subconsciously or maybe now consciously know that I like it so much that they hand me the menu as soon as we get to the restaurant. They tell me that they would end up talking and not ordering if I wasn't so hyper about it. I love the way conversation flows in that set up. How all of us begin talking at once and then try to shush each other and then everybody takes turn to lay out their gossip. I like the way they shake their head when I spill food. I have a knack of doing this always. Ok I am getting a bit sentimental now *sniff*. Here is to many more such 'eat-outs' with friends. :) :)