What I Hated the Least Today 148/365: Eating Out

Eating out - literally
Eating out – literally

I never eat out—except when I do, of course. I did so when I had two hours to pass away before my return bus’s departure when I finished teaching/examining. I could have taken the more expensive, less comfortable and Wi-Fi-less train, but I’m loyal to my preferred bus service (less expensive, more comfortable and Wi-Fi-equipped). I thought I could have a lunch somewhere while waiting, as I’ve grown increasingly fed up with my low-calorie food diet (fed is probably not the best word choice in reference to my diet) and was craving actual food (I maintain that vegetables and tofu do not qualify as actual food).

I spent much time deciding if I’d go for lunch and even more time deciding where to go for lunch. I’m indecisive. I’m also scared of people and eating out requires dealing with them. I went through my agonisingly slow deciding process while sitting on a bench in the scorching heat and chain-smoking (two is already a chain), vaguely unhappy with myself. Perhaps I could just as well remain here, contemplating my incompetence, and making do with my crisp rice bread snack? But then the thought of food that is actually food was so tempting.

I consulted my mobile device for eating places nearby. All of them looked OK, none of them looked like a must-visit though. Round the corner there was what turned out to be a vegetarian diner—so as to prove to myself that I’m not biased, I checked out the daily menu posted on their web and found that they offered sweet rice and a tofu meal. Now, that’s not much of an improvement when compared to the rice bread in my handbag and the tofu in my fridge. As I noticed I was already starting to draw attention (a nervous person sitting alone and fidgeting on a bench is bound to want to blow something up), I abandoned my post and went in the nearest restaurant across the street.

Inside, I planned to tuck myself into a corner somewhere, but seating options suitable for a single person were somewhat limited, so I climbed on a slightly raised platform strewn with a bunch of small tables. That was a largely counter-intuitive choice, but at least the platform lined the wall. I hate open spaces (which is another way of saying I’m agoraphobic). The waiters (or, as one of my students termed them during her oral exam, the servants) were complaisant (which always makes me embarrassed for myself for no good reason), and the menu offered chicken wraps and a pasta salad (which I deemed acceptable).

I was so cheeky as to ask if I could have the salad without dressing. I don’t like my food all sticky with a semi-fluid substance of dubious colour and texture. The waiter reported that the dressing was already mixed in the meal; so never mind, let’s try the wraps. The waiter double-checked, correcting my wraps pronunciation (I czechified it, but the waiter was probably proud he knew how to pronounce it in English, so I naturally didn’t mention my PhD in English and tried not to let on the depth of my embarrassment). I asked for water then, possibly with a slice of lemon or something, because I reasoned it would be cheaper than mineral water.

The food was alright but rather expensive, and the tap water turned out to be outright overpriced. Good to know that next time I should just have beer, which is the cheapest drink you can get (cheaper than water and cheaper than bread). I was quite proud of myself because I ventured to interact with people (I hated it) and I confirmed my initial suspicion that eating out was neither affordable nor too delightful when practised alone. I’m also pleased to report an entertaining incident: as I was leaving, I obviously forgot all about me being on a raised platform, and I nearly faceplanted, to the genuine concern of the nearby waiter. He advised me to mind the step.

18 thoughts on “What I Hated the Least Today 148/365: Eating Out

  1. I’m not scared of people but I don’t like people. I do like to eat out, though. In trusty places where I know what they have. McDonald’s for example 🙂 Just kidding, they’re alright, but there are better food joints. I keep taking the same stuff each time we go. The one we frequent about once a month, I almost always order fish ‘n chips. There are oodles of fish ‘n chips joints here, but quite often the batter is too hard and thick for my taste. Not in this one, though.

    I love gooey salads. The more mayo, the better.

    Good that you didn’t fall. I fell down the big stair in the local hotel back home once, but that was New Years Eve, so I hope they were too drunk to notice. You could have ended up with two, black eyes — looking like a raccoon 😀

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    1. McDonalds? Nooo… I often crave junk food but on the rare occasion that I give it a try, I invariably find it disappointing. Especially the chips. Always rubbery. The fish and chips I had in Britain (once London, one Edinburgh) were perfect though.

      It was quite a shame that I didn’t fall because I could totally sue the establishment for failing to put up a MIND YOUR STEP sign 😉 A raccoon look would be cute! No one would get it, as we don’t have raccoons, so no one knows what they look like. But still. It was stylish of you to welcome a new year with a tumble down the stairs… I imagine you survived intact, since you lived to blog about it.

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      1. Here, the chips/french fries are perfect in all McDonald’s and fish ‘n chips shops. None of them have disappointed. Like I said; there are oodles of fish ‘n chips shops here, but that’s not the truth for all over the country — mainly in the Maritime provinces (where we live).

        Yeah, a lawsuit with a handsome settlement would have been nice 🙂

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        1. Obviously, landlocked countries can’t make proper chips. Not to mention fish. We do have what the Germans call schnitzel though, which you perhaps know? It goes with potato salad, which besides potatoes contains vegetables and mayo 😉

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  2. I agree with you about tofu. When I was in Japan the stuff was served in every conceivable way. It may explain why you rarely saw an overweight Japanese person, the women especially were incredibly petite and beautiful even the ones my age looked great.
    I’m a bit like you about restaurants as I eat out alone if I ever do and once a month some old friends and I have dinner. Yes it easy to miss that step as I know when you are thinking of preserving some sense of dignity after obviously being the centre of attention of all couples eating there wondering why you are such a loser eating alone and then the ignominy of the potential disaster can put you off ever venturing out the front door again. Have a good weekend, enjoy the marking??

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    1. Asian cuisine is indeed healthy – from the little that I’ve tasted, it’s also very delicious. Sadly, I can’t prepare the dishes, even if I have the same or similar ingredients, so my tofu isn’t really up to much. I can also confirm that this non-food is great as a reduction diet 😉

      You describe my sentiments about eating out alone perfectly! Rationally, I know no one really cares, but it feels like everyone is watching you and waiting for you to embarrass yourself. Which I duly did.

      No more marking for me for now (hurray!), I’m spending the weekend writing some useless papers for possible publication and blogging, obviously 😉 Have a good weekened yourself!

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  3. Sorry to hear about your eating-out-experience, doesn’t sound too good :-/ I do enjoy eating out on my own and trying out places but I confess it’s limited to Irish places as I can’t afford that same thing over here lol. I really wonder – what’s the Czech pronunciation of “wraps”? Rolling the R it is or is there a bigger difference?

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    1. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds! I was just overthinking, as per usual. Irish places sound intriguing! What’s the usual menu? I don’t think I’ve ever been to one.

      Wraps in Czech would be pronounced with an a, the same sound as in pub. The r would sound different too, but it’s a small difference. I’m terrible in pronunciation in general. After all, I got corrected by a waiter 😉

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      1. Ah, interesting 🙂 See, I love accents and pronunciation issues 🙂 I’m obsessed with them… Also love listening to people and trying to figure out where they come from when speaking English 😀 Oh I love Irish pub food ❤ ❤ ❤ Usually there’s fish and chips, irish stew, steaks, sheperd’s pie, fish chowders, catch of the day…^^ all depending on where you are.

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        1. Oh I didn’t realise you were also interested in linguistics! It’s a fascinating subject. I’m fascinated with accents even though I’m so bad at them – I can never tell the origin of the speaker based on accent, and my own accent is quite poor, considering that I’ve spent so many years already studying English and using it for work.

          I live in a small town, so while we have an Irish pub, there is no Irish eating place. I’ll be on a lookout though for some alternative eating places, I like to try new food. The Irish menu sounds scrumptious!

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          1. Oh yes, I LOVE languages!!! Seeing as I grew up trilingual and learnt a few more afterwards at school. I can’t get enough of them and in every new country I visit I try to pick up a few bits and pieces – it also helps so much to lower that barrier amongst cultures when traveling ❤ I’m intrigued about everyone speaking in another language… ALWAYS try to figure out where they might come from and if it’s too tricky I’ve found myself asking 😀
            Doesn’t the Irish pub serve pub food 😦 ? Must be a pretty bad pub then 😀 Hope you get to taste it once 🙂 It’s simple food but I just love it 🙂

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          2. You’re right of course, it didn’t click on my mind that Switzerland has four official languages, though I am aware of that. It’s great to be able to learn a new language, even if just bits of it! It definitely makes you even more welcome in the country.

            The local Irish pub only serves drinks 😮 Simple food is just to my taste though.

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  4. Since I really dislike cooking and do it simply out of necessity, I think eating out is ALWAYS welcome.
    Falling off a raised platform however, would never be my first choice 😉

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    1. Tumbling down a raised platform wasn’t my first choice either, but I was glad to amuse those who were looking 😮 I hate cooking fiercely, but I apparently indulge in self-punishment because I’ve come to cook a lot recently – fast and easy meals, never more than two pots and two chief ingredients, but still, I’m cooking like my meals depended on it.

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