freNch fries (Chips) in my pockets
- Unfortunately I suffer from a strange phobia and it involves a feeling of anxiety or even discomfort if I do not finish the food on my plate. It seems incredibly discourteous to leave food that has been cooked to make me happy, whether it is at home or in a restaurant. The worst case scenario is when a certain dish is recommended and turns out to be horrible. This leads to lying “yes it’s lovely” and desperate measures to clean my plate to prove the point. I have used two approaches to overcome this problem and neither has been particularly successful. Eating very quickly whilst smiling and making appreciative noises gets the job done quickly but it is a fine balance between indicating how much you are enjoying the meal and being a slob who shovels food into his mouth and washes it down with huge gulps of wine as if at a medieval banquet. There are two negatives involved with this method. It is possible to make yourself feel sick and the other is that your host is fooled into thinking you really loved their culinary creation and heaps a load more on your plate. I had a very bad experience with this whilst visiting a shipyard in Azerbaijan with a view to taking a ship there for repair.
My coworker Tom was marine superintendent and I was the technical superintendent. Tom was a very fussy eater and anything not based on the worst of British quisine was referred to as “foreign muck”. We were to to meet the shipyard manager at one o’clock so went to the BP canteen for lunch before departing.
We arrived at the shipyard and the manager was running late and had not eaten so we were invited to dine with him in the shipyard canteen. We were both already full but did not want to appear rude so we smiled and accepted. There were just six of us around the table and there were large plates of what looked like pasta mixed with pretty indescribable bits of meat and onion. The serving lady heaped our plates despite our protestations and both Tom and I looked in despair. Tom did not even pick up his fork, he just stared in horror. “What sort of meat is this” he asked in a poorly executed attempt at sounding casual. “Liver, kidneys and intestines” the manager replied. “Holy fuck” whispered Tom. This was basically offal pasta, a perfectly good plate of pasta contaminated with the inside bits of an undisclosed species of animal that you would normally throw away. “There is only one way to deal with with this” I said quietly to Tom “shovel it in quickly and wash it down with water”. As the cutlery provided was a spoon and fork, I went for the spoon and set to work at a frantic pace. Heaped spoon in mouth, two chews and washed down with a glug of water and repeat at a frantic pace until the plate was empty. I was finished, mission accomplished, two massive lunches and one made from the digestive tract of an animal, without being sick or triggering my non empty plate phobia. I had done too good a job and whilst Tom retched his way through his plate the manager, impressed by my appetite waved to the serving lady and she piled my plate with a fresh batch of offal.
The meeting was rather quick because in order to get out of there as quickly as possible we pretty much accepted their terms and made a hasty departure. We sat in the car heading back into town, bloated, ill and burping onions and intestines.