The remit was clear.
‘It has to be somewhere that serves decent basic food, is good value… oh, and does vegetarian dishes as well.”
In the location there were plenty of places which did quite imaginative vegetarian dishes. The problem was that they also did imaginative non-vegetarian dishes. Imaginative cuisine wasn’t an option. There were also plenty of establishments serving good basic local food, grilled meat and fish. But restaurants serving good basic meat dishes might excel in the steak department, just not in the veggie stakes.
In the end we opted for an Italian joint as just about everyone on the planet seems to be okay with Italian food. It was a decent enough place, the food was fine and we had a great time. But it didn’t have the quirky charm or intriguing menu of the inviting little tasca opposite that we had to ignore.
Over the years of dining out with other people we’ve noticed certain traits that can restrict the experience, i.e. when you have to meet the needs of the most unadventurous person in the group.
These are some of the ‘loveable’ quirks we’ve encountered.
Same Old, Same Old
This is the person who orders exactly the same dish every time they eat out. These diners can seriously restrict the choice of restaurant especially when the person not only wants the same dish but always wants to eat in the same restaurant. Andy’s dad partly fell into this category but his choice was such a common dish that it was more amusing than a restriction. When we’d go into a restaurant he’d peruse the menu, make positive noises about a few possibilities before finally announcing every single time: “I’ll have the steak in pepper sauce… without the peppers.”
Dining Companion Suitability – 5/10: On account of the places being boringly repetitive.
Don’t Like Any Fishy Business
This is a massive group with lots of sub groups. There are the people who won’t eat anything at all from the sea. It amazes me when I see the number of travel bloggers/writers who say they won’t touch seafood. I suppose I expect the sense of adventure that comes with travel to extend to food as well. Sub groups include those who’ll eat fish but no seafood, people who won’t eat fish with head and/or tails still attached and the folks who say they like fish and seafood when they really mean they’ll eat prawns and nothing else that comes from the briny.
Dining Companion Suitability – 0/10: Because we love fish and seafood.
These are people who say they still don’t like things they didn’t like when they were a child. Basically they’ve got Peter Pan taste buds. They might have matured and their tastes in many things may have changed, but their palates are still playing in the sand pit. However, anyone who says this about Brussels sprouts is exempt.
Dining Companion Suitability – 7/10: As it doesn’t normally influence the type of restaurant.
I Don’t Like That
Everyone has a few things they don’t like the taste of so nothing wrong with anyone saying they don’t like certain foods… unless they haven’t actually tried them. Possibly the most frustrating of dining companions and evidence of a total lack of adventurous spirit. Being Scottish I’m particularly riled when it’s applied to haggis. Haggis is delicious and I wish people would try some before making daft ‘eeuch’ statements.
Dining Companion Suitability – 1/10: although these folk annoy me I quite like the excuse for a rant.
I Don’t Like… Thai Food
This is a common one. ‘Thai’ can be changed for the country of choice. When I hear anyone making this statement I lose all respect for any culinary views they have. I’ve never known any cuisine where all the food has exactly the same flavours or textures so it’s a complete nonsense thing to say. It’s evidence of an cowering palate more than anything else.
Dining Companion Suitability – 3/10: The chances are these people are going to be hard to please whatever country’s cuisine it is, unless it’s their own… or Italian.
You Pick, I’ll Eat Anything
Possibly the worst culinary offenders of all. The ‘you pick, I’ll eat anything’ crew can mean quite the opposite and are often the fussiest eaters under the sun. The first time you eat out with someone who is in this category you fall for it, until you discover when you take them to a favourite restaurant the menu has absolutely nothing that they like. This group can bring on a bout of banging your head against the wall because they also have an abhorrence of sharing information with you about the only two dishes in the world they actually enjoy.
Dining Companion Suitability – 2/10: Every so often you get lucky and find a restaurant which serves their food of choice that also has some decent nosh.
Thankfully, the truth is that most of our friends really will try anything, so the majority of the time our tastebuds are allowed to run free and have a ball when we eat out with other people.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+