Choices. There are just too many choices to make. Have you noticed when ordering at a restaurant how long and complicated the menu seems to be now? It’s overwhelming.
I was with my daughter recently and we decided to try out a restaurant where her team was headed after a game. We tried to have a conversation with the folks we were sitting with, but had to stop talking so we could concentrate on reading the oversized menu.
There were lots of options. The appetizer section was two pages. Entrée choices encompassed almost four pages. Side dishes were one page. And desserts? They had their own entirely separate menu book. Granted, it was smaller. But still.
Don’t get me wrong. Every single item on the menu sounded delicious. And that was the problem. Which one should I choose? I had decision constipation.
Now I understand why people order the same thing every time they go out to eat – heck, that’s why I order the same thing time and again – no one wants to read the whole menu and make all those decisions again.
A book written over a decade ago addresses the whole issue of analysis paralysis. “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” was written by psychologist and professor Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz makes the argument that while autonomy and freedom of choice are important for our well-being, an abundance of choices increases our anxiety and stress.
Schwartz explores the idea that too many choices can bring remorse following a poor decision. How many times have I felt sentiments like: “Oh darn, I should have gotten the salted caramel with extra fleur de sel instead of the brandy-spiked Nutella topping on my ice cream; it’s my fault,” after leaving the fancy schmancy ice cream shop?
He also discusses the concept of loss of presence in what we are doing. Thoughts like “Why am I doing this when I could be doing that?” are commonplace when we know the choices that we passed on. A newer term for this is FOMO (fear of missing out).
A friend introduced me to the term FOMO. We were talking about possibly going out to eat with a group of mutual friends. Even though she didn’t particularly like the restaurant, she didn’t want to miss out on the possibility that the rest of us would have a great time. Without her. She said it was FOMO on her part.
Circling back around to the daunting menu problem, I think a novel dining concept would be a restaurant where there was a fixed, limited menu with no substitutions or options. The menu would read something like this: Tossed Salad Greens with Vinaigrette. Shrimp Cocktail. Roasted Chicken. Mashed Potatoes. Red wine. That’s it.
The menu might change slightly from week to week to reflect seasonal vegetables and other meats, but no other variations or substitutions. Ever. Future restauranteurs, you can send my royalty check to the Friday Flyer office and I will pick it up there, thank you.
Seriously though, minimalism in dining would be a welcome relief for restaurant owners and customers alike. The restaurant wouldn’t have to stock so many ingredients. The chef and line cooks would get crazy good at the few dishes they did have to prepare. And customers wouldn’t need to read the menu, so they would have more time for conversation.
This week’s recipe comes from the website savorysimple.net and features quinoa as a healthy start to the day. Because it packs 10 essential amino acids, quinoa is considered a complete protein and is on my list of alternative, meat-less proteins. Although you could change or add more topping choices, I say don’t. No one wants to make decisions like that in the morning.
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons dried cherries
- 1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 tablespoon roasted flax seeds
Combine the quinoa, almond milk, oil, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium low heat, stirring, until the quinoa is warm. Top with cherries, almonds, coconut and flax seeds before serving.