Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Social Gastronomic Half-Life

so·cial gas·tro·nom·ic half-life (noun)
[soh-shuhl gas-truh-nom-ik haf-lahyf]
A term describing the fate of a last bite of a shared appetizer as it is seemingly infinitely halved by diners embarrassed to be the one to finish it off.
Friends Sarah E. and Josh G. collaboratively coined this while we were at Highland Kitchen the other night. I have previously blogged about Highland Kitchen, which is one of my absolute favorite new-ish discoveries, especially since I can walk there, but this was the first time I had tried their Buffalo-fried Brussels sprouts. Wow. Crispy and green on the inside; crispy and Buffalo wing-y on the outside. (It tasted like the classic Frank's Red Hot-and-butter hot sauce. Well done, Highland Kitchen, well done.)

Anyway, as the last bite got progressively smaller and smaller and we all cast sideways glances at it, weighing our options, Joel swooped in and finished it. "I'm not afraid to be the asshole so none of you have to," he explained. This phrase also came up last week when Joel, my roommate Deb, and I had a traditional Jewish dinner on Christmas Eve at Peach Farm in Chinatown. Come to think of it, this happens quite often when dining with Joel.

After the last bit of Brussels sprouts disappeared forever into Joel's stomach, we discussed the social phenomenon of how (most) people don't want to be the one to take the last bite, and social gastronomic half-life was born.

Are you like Joel? Do you claim to save everyone else the awkwardness by being the jerk who takes the last bite? Do you carefully take a mini-bite, leaving an increasingly minuscule bit on the plate? Or do you politely refrain altogether once the appetizer reaches a critical minimum, all the while wishing that someone would just insist that you eat it?

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