An article in the New York Times Style Magazine by Kurt Soller entitled, “At Restaurants, Thank You for Not Sharing:After a decade of treating every plate like a pie, individual dishes are making a welcome comeback,” caught my eye. For over ten years, I have been attributing a quote I thought I read from Julia Child that she did not share any dishes she ordered at restaurants. If someone wanted to taste something, they would have to order it for themselves; and not having any poor sap with merely one bite after passing it around to everyone. For the life of me, I cannot for the life of me remember where I read it and I cannot find it online after multiple clever search queries. It seems like something she would say, doesn’t it?
The main point is that I have always agreed that one shouldn’t feel obligated to share; or if you really did just want a bite of a particular dish, then to ask if anyone also wants a bite. And I do feel that this has started to be more common over the last half decade.
The article goes on with “Living in the “sharing economy,” we are accustomed to apportioning cars, offices and, yes, plates of food. Lately, though, chefs and diners seem to have grown weary of the communal experience.” Seems like quite an enormous leap to lump sharing plates with the sharing economy, as even the author acknowledges that tapas and most Chinese dishes are inherently meant to be shared. Also, an enormous leap to pronounce that chefs and diners alike are done with the communal experience, let alone sharing a plate. Yes, there is the cubicle dining experience aka Solo Dining Booth at Ichiran. But I still see many a community table at new restaurants, ones short on space like Niche to massive spaces like Tetsu. I also found that ending the piece with fluffy political discourse (socialism vs. democracy) and stringng together random dining annoyances to be neither cute nor clever. It truly bummed me out that what started out as an interesting read, turned into and ended in such a shallow way.
Like I said, I loved trotting out that Julia Child quote over the years and I thought this article would provide more cultural insights or at least a few more quotes for my arsenal. I do think that sharing plates did seem more prevalent at one time but perhaps that was timed with an influx of casual dining overall. The point now is that sharing is just one way of eating; just a preference by some diners. Speak up if you don’t want to share and use that Julia Child quote as a shield against looking selfish!