Blogpost # 879    THE IN’S AND OUT’S, OF DINING (Redux)

[PREFACE] For the contextual purpose of this writing, we would choose to differentiate the word, “eating,” from, “dining.” The verb, “Eating,” essentially, is the existential activity of humankind (and other living organisms) by which food is regularly, ingested, to assuage the organism’s eternal need for nutrition. Dining, as we intend its meaning in this writing, is eating, (usually, the evening dinner meal) socially, with family or others, on special occasions, usually, at a selected, restaurant. Collateral, but, socially, significant, functions of dining, are communication and the confirmation of relationships (with friends, family or business representatives.)

[“Dining out”- a/k/a “eating out”]

The practice of eating, or dining, “out,” customarily, takes place at a restaurant, selected by the host, or by one of the attendant parties. The selection of the restaurant, normally, is made by the host, or one or more, of the participating, parties; the customary criteria for such selection include, location, ambiance and the perceived quality of one’s previous dining experience.

All restaurants, big and small, ethnic or American-style food, have similar, “balletic” rituals. Upon arrival, if seasonally, relevant, there is the disposition of outerwear, to a “hat-check” clerk. Although the restaurant may be, empty all experienced diners understand that they are expected, to wait, compliantly, at an indicated and appropriately designated space, until they are cued, for “seating” at a table.  An attractive shaped bottle of water is then, supplied by a “busboy,” followed by the graceful and ritualistic distribution of menus and solo recitation, if applicable, of the evening’s “special” selections. The server, then, invitingly, makes inquiries, as to desired, wine or alcoholic beverages. The dance ritual continues with the server disappearing for about three minutes, only to return and gracefully, reply to questions and note (“take”) the parties’ orders.

Following the end of the dramatic, action-packed second act, consisting of the parties’ actual eating experience and social discourse, the server, who, throughout the performance, had been waiting in the wings, for questions and requests, gracefully, clears the table, and solicits requests, for dessert or coffee, following which, he, as a finale, delivers the bill. The latter, is customarily, augmented the diners, with what is known, as a “tip,” frequently, 15% to 20%.

Such final coda, to the restaurant’s symphony, is a ritualistic ceremony, with which we have always willingly, complied, albeit, never, truly, understood. An experienced restaurant patron, once, pedantically, explained, in an arrogant and condescending, manner: “I’m surprised that you don’t know that the word “TIP,” is an obvious, abbreviation for the phrase “To insure Proper Service!” We, politely, refrained, in the interest of civility, to furnish the empirically, logical reply that pedantic declaration made little, temporal sense since its dynamics were empirically, ex post facto; the tip is given after the service, and logically, could not serve to expedite or improve it. N.B.:  It is our view, that adequate remuneration is the legal and moral responsibility of the restaurant proprietor, as it is for any other entrepreneur.

[“Dining In”, a/k/a “eating in”]

Dining at home, is unquestionably, the most uncomplicated, comfortable and simplest mode of socially, ingesting food, and is universally, enjoyed for its routine and convenient, simplicity. Our declared, standard for the category of “dining,” is, not satisfied, with the exception of special occasions, viz., an honored guest, holidays, and celebratory occasions. However, the virtues of communication and ratification of relationships are, certainly, relevant.

Among the salient, virtues of eating at home, (“en famille”), is the existence of “home cooking,” with its accommodating, facility to cater to nuanced tastes. Also relevant is the relaxed, familiar and comfortable intimacy and, of course, the relatively modest cost. It may be noted, that there are a substantial number of nutritional studies and media articles, to the effect that home-cooked, cuisine eliminates certain unhealthy, ingredients, employed by restaurant chefs, such as excessive salt, sugar, oils and fats, and, accordingly, is nutritionally healthier, furnishing especial, critical emphasis on, “fast food” purveyors. All the foregoing, benefits exist, in addition to the societal and psychological benefits derived from familial, reaffirmation of shared, personal relationship.

[“Dining out,” ”eating in”- a gustatory, hybrid]

On occasion, there is a mixed desire to “eat in,” and, simultaneously, a yen to have a variation from the (admittedly, good but, predictable) home-cooked cuisine. Such impetus may arise for various reasons, unexpected guests,  the empathic desire to afford a respite to the hard-working cooker, a desire for a momentary change in home cuisine, or, a yen for a specific style of ethnic food.

A  call, telephonic, or by smartphone, is made to the relevant restaurant, the order taken down and shortly, thereafter, delivered to and enjoyed by the home diners. This is a hybrid instance of “eating out,” since the meal, as requested by the diners, was prepared by an outside-the-home, chef, and delivered by a (bicycle-driven) server; the latter, similarly, receiving a tip for his services. Other than the dynamics of ordering, service and tip, the diners have the dual benefit of the comfort and intimacy as with the comforting ambiance of a home-cooked meal, combined with the elective, experience of partaking of a professionally, prepared meal, personally, selected from a menu, albeit, despite the absence of the restaurant balletic.

It would appear, that, universally, we have the ubiquitous benefit of a dual “menu;” one regarding the choice of venue and the logistics of a meal, as well as another, listing the available choices for dinner.

Bon Appetit!


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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