Well, I guess there are more important causes to take up—climate change, nuclear proliferation, the latest Kardashian controversy.
But this appears to be one of the battle lines in the restaurant wars. Some people, mostly chefs, according to this article, are arguing that entrées are no longer interesting:
Last weekend, chef of New York City’s Empellon Cocina Alex Stupak and Bloomberg critic Ryan Sutton aired their mutual grievances with main courses over Twitter, each concluding that they are no longer necessary. Stupak, who has removed entrees from his menu and vowed he’s “never cooking [entrees] again,” chalks up his decision to boredom. “Our tacos seem to be what anchors us,” Stupak tweeted, “and besides they are more fun to work with then 6-8 ounces of clunky protein.”
I think these chefs are on to something. I’ve long thought that the Spanish had the right idea with their tapas. Small plates=more plates per meal=more interesting flavors to explore.
I almost invariably find that when perusing a restaurant menu the appetizers are more interesting than the main dishes so I’m tempted to order 2-3 appetizers rather than a main dish.
Furthermore, there is lots of scientific evidence suggesting that after a few tastes, flavors lose their appeal. We experience sensory adaptation which is the perceived decrease in the perception of a stimulus after repeated exposure to it. Just as when you put your hand in hot water you become acclimated to it, when we experience a flavor over and over its intensity is reduced. So by the end of a meal that big steak that had so much flavor in the beginning seems dull and ordinary. The endless variety of small plates keeps things interesting.
The argument that we should do away with the main dish received some push back from a few restaurant critics and customers who apparently prefer dull and ordinary. New York Times critic Pete Wells a post entitled “The Big Problem with Small Plates” argued:
“At places where there is some skill and dedication in the kitchen, this style of eating leads to a curious phenomenon: the sensation of having eaten a delicious meal without feeling truly satisfied at the end of it.”
Ah, there is a solution to this problem—order more dishes.
So I’m on board with this movement and I hope it picks up steam. Maybe on this issue, unlike climate change, nuclear proliferation, and Kardashian controversies, we can actually make some progress.