Friday, May 03, 2013

I hate picky eaters. It's the way I was raised.

I was in a caff near Oxford Circus this lunchtime. Not a restaurant but more than a greasy spoon. A caff.

 A woman came in, evidently undecided whether to sit at a table, get something to take away or leave empty handed.

The east European waitresses attempted to help her, pointing at the array of sandwich fillings in the display cabinet and the chalk boards full of hot meal options. She stood there looking studiously unimpressed, much like I imagine Maris Crane might look.

This, don't forget, is in the middle of one of the most cosmopolitan cities on God's earth. The customers represented every type and many ethnicities. The food is nobody's idea of gourmet fare but the place is clean, the service is good and they've been running in that location for over twenty-five years, which means their menu features everything they're likely to be asked for by the thousands of different people who will drop in during the average week.

The woman stood there. She looked at one menu. Then she looked at another. She looked in the cabinet. Then at the chalk board, which must have had fifty options on it. Then she turned and left.

I felt affronted on the staff's behalf. I'll forgive most things but there's something about a picky eater that can make my blood boil.


  1. Or could it be a "Paradox of choice" moment?

    When confronted with a lot of options, some say we become less decisive and less happy with any decision we make.

  2. That's what I was thinking. I get in a tizzy when presented with too many options, a real problem here in the States.

  3. Hopefully the waitress didn't take the snub personally but can appreciate how this kind of rejection can be hurtful.

    I imagine that in a central London cafe this customer was benign compared to some of the flotsam and jetsam that washes in and out its doors.

  4. It also depends on a lot of other factors such as mental/physical illness. I am normally a very decisive 'that'll do' sort of person but when I had depression I walked out of a supermarket because my brain just wouldn't tell me what to buy!

  5. I'm a vegetarian and I'm afraid I do sometimes behave in the exact manner that provokes your contempt, David. It's only because my choices are much more limited in some places. I remember having to leave a restaurant in Mayfair as soon as I'd seen the menu.

  6. But put this against a backdrop of trendy restaurants which now offer just one thing, but do that one thing very well. We do steak and that's all we do - or burgers/rotisserie chicken/noodles whatever.

    Against that, somewhere which offers "everything" is almost advertising the fact that none of it will be particularly good.

  7. Hate picky eaters? You'll love the first paragraph of this article then: