Nothing causes more behind-the-back bitching in friendship groups than awkward shared eating scenarios.
Don’t deny it. Don’t pretent you haven’t walked away from a supposedly lovely night out and immediately turned to Friend #1 and said “Can you believe Friend #2 got her calculator out?!?” And guaranteed Miss Calculator is bitching to her car-pool friend at that very moment about how many cocktails you ordered and how rude it was that you expected the bill to then be evenly split.
There’s just so much room for disaster.
Well, guess what? I’m here to help, friends. The shared eating experience should be a time of peace and bonding, so I’ve decided to document the most annoying parts of this culinary minefield so we all know what should be avoided. The ‘Absolute, Ultimate and Official Guide’, if you will.
Bookmark this list. Share it. Passive aggressively tag people. Let me say the things that you don’t feel you can:
1. When nobody takes charge of the ordering.
It’s important in these complex situations that an experienced and confident individual takes the reins. It’s a fact of life that when left without a sufficient leader, a table of diners will be physically incapable of making any kind of concrete ordering decisions. They need a hero; a ‘saviour’ if you will. Someone who takes charge and says “Yes. We will go with Banquet Option C and that’s with fried rice not steamed.”
2. When the person who takes charge does a crappy job.
Nothing makes your heart sink like the person in charge telling the waiter that “two dishes will definitely be enough for all eight of us.” Um… Maybe if I was the lead character in a Dickens novel.
If you insist on taking charge, do it right. Nobody wants to fight to the death over the last wedge.
3. The person who ruins the even distribution with their dietary requirements.
Vegetarians. Vegans. Fishotarians. Gluten-isnt-trendy-tarians. Fruitarians. No-sugar-tarians. There’s-too-much-fat-in-that-tarians.
Nobody cares what bandwagon you’re currently sitting on. When you order the only dish you’re prepared to eat, it throws out the balance for everybody else who is ordering with the whole table in mind. Share the beef nachos and come back down to earth, Gwyneth.
4. The person who eats more than their fair share.
Just because this is a food sharing situation doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. The fact that everybody turned up to dinner kind of indicates that everybody would like to eat dinner. There’s nothing worse than four dishes coming to the table and one person taking a disproportionate amount from each one. You’re not lined up outside a free soup kitchen during World War Two – there’s no need to stockpile. So, just put the breaks on Grabby McHands.
5. All entrees assume that groups of friends only consist of even numbers.
I’m not sure what happens in restaurant school, but there must be a whole section of the curriculum devoted to the fact that all groups of friends are made up of two, four or six people, and entree numbers must reflect that. Maybe it’s the lesson in between learning that you can charge double the price for doing half the work if you call something ‘deconstructed’. Or that cramming entire meals into jars is super ‘kitsch’.
There’s nothing worse than everybody pretending they don’t want the last dumpling when actually everybody really, really wants the last dumpling. It’s actually been confirmed by science that there’s no other time on earth when more passive aggressive laughter is exchanged than when there’s one deep-fried entree item left on a plate.