If there’s one quirk all food enthusiasts share, it’s this: peeves usually come before praise. And I’m no different. In fact, when it comes to the complaints-before-compliments policy, I have a complainer gene no man, woman or wild beast can compete with. The thing is, even though I’m not fussy about my food, I’m easily irked. To give you a taste of what I mean, I present a sampler of food scenarios that make my skin crawl with my top 21 food peeves.
Restaurant reviews Free food in exchange for writing a review? Sure. Because there’s no pressure to pen praise about an establishment that’s just paid for my meal, right? Take my advice: if you really can’t live without writing reviews, be all Bond about it i.e. operate undercover.
Fishy fish This one is guaranteed to trigger my gag reflex. It should smell of the sea, not stink of it.
Waiters who won’t wait Have you ever been watched like a hawk when you’re trying to chill out and chow down? Sure, waiters are trained to turn tables, but it’s bad manners trying to terrorise me into eating a mile-a-minute meal.
Baking That kind of precision is too authoritarian for my taste. What happened to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of adapting recipes with reckless abandon?
Complicated garnish Save the curling, twirling, and swirling skills for the origami class.
Dodgy delicacies Extreme dining doesn’t do much for me. Care for a mouthful of Casu Marzu? FYI, it’s rotten cheese riddled with a writhing mass of maggots. How about a bowl of bird’s nest soup, made mainly from bird saliva and spit? Insects, anyone? Let’s leave that kind of bravery to Anthony Bourdain.
Over-saucing Say it with me: less is more. Drown my food in a river of sauce and prepare to drown in a flood of my wrath. Seriously, hell hath no fury ...
Pretentious menus So let me get this straight: the harder it is to pronounce the higher the price.
Sad sides Mysterious mounds of curly-fried something or the other, tired trios of boring blanched veggies, retro tomato rosettes, bread so stale it’ll stab you in the mouth before you can swallow it, forgotten-in-the-fryer fries. We’re all victims here.
Limp lettuce and soggy salads Come on, I think we can all agree that limp anything is rarely attractive. And a soggy salad is just sad.
Faux fine dining White plates can work wonders, but it’s not nearly enough to make a memorable evening. Britney and the Backstreet Boys blaring in the background are a big-time buzz-kill.
Atrocious food imagery Dear Pakistani food channels, I have it on good authority that the appeal of edibles is directly proportional to the awesomeness of its appearance. Translation: humans eat with their eyes. Stop assaulting them with sloppy serving suggestions and appetite-killing close-ups of ancient ingredients.
Innards, offal, guts and gizzards I’m not a vegetarian, but there’s something very Hannibal Lecter about gorging on animal guts.
Obscure ingredients No, my local supermarket does not carry salt made from fairy tears or fine cuts of unicorn meat.
Laugh-out-loud lingo Okay, I’ll admit I secretly enjoy some of these slip-ups, but a) I’m a stickler for spelling and b) I don’t enjoy Da Vinci Code style explanations of what I’m about to eat. “Beef tornadoes”, “profit rolls”, “absolutely adorable yellow, yummy, scrumptious sauce”. What?
Tiny portions If you’re going to be a Scrooge about my food, I’ll remember to be a Grinch about your tip.
Up-sized portions I’m not a beast. I don’t want to eat like one.
Self-proclaimed foodies and food snobs “Foodie” is just hipster for “food nerd”. And no, I don’t get the fuss over foie gras, I’m not crazy about caviar and I’ve never eaten eel or emu.
Fast food that costs a small fortune Really, Rs800 for a B-grade burger and fries? Close to a thousand rupees for a thin crust pepperoni pizza? All I can say is: show me the shawarma!
The frozen yogurt frenzy First, unless you’re 15, refrain from referring to it as “fro-yo”, forever. Second, I’d applaud your whole-hearted attempt at making healthy diet decisions if you’d stop acting so smug and superior about it.
Going gaga over gluten-free Up until 30 seconds ago you weren’t even aware of gluten’s existence and suddenly you’re convinced you’re going to die a slow and painful death if you continue to consume it? Quick, name three foods that contain gluten! Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I told you not to doubt my complainer DNA. Happy eating, food fiends!