Choices

December 23, 2011

Last night we went to a place called Torrisi Italian Specialties for dinner with close friends. It’s a perfect little New York restaurant with delicious food that makes you consider new flavors, layers of texture and mind-expanding tastes. There has been a lot written about it, here and here and here and here, and there are more, too. I don’t really need to talk about the food. Go there, the bread with tomato butter and handmade warm mozzarella will blow your mind as it did mine, it’s a nearly perfect bite of food.

One of the most interesting things about eating there was the relief that we all felt from not having to make choices. Every night they have a prix fixe menu. We had to pick a wine (there were probably thirty reds and the same number of whites, not pages and pages) and there was a choice between fish and chicken for the main course, that was it. Maybe it takes a certain kind of place where people have faith in the quality of the food that they’re willing to eat anything that’s presented (in our case, this faith included trying tripe). Maybe putting that much trust in the eating establishment puts a certain population off, and so they don’t go there. For us, it was liberating, it made us all sigh in relief. I’m realizing now as I write this just how much anxiety comes with ordering food off a menu. When it’s decided for me, as it was last night, I didn’t have to consider whether something was the healthiest thing on the menu, whether it had vegetables, where the meat came from, if a particular dish had been written about over and over again and was the thing to order even if you’re not in the mood for meatball sliders or pork belly buns, or any other number of things that get into my head as I read obsessively about food. I can check my crazy, and my knowledge and politics at the door. For me, specifically, and I think for at least a few of my friends, it releases us from the tension of having to make the right choice, whatever that means, in a delightful, relaxing way. It’s funny, though, to relish the absence of choice.

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