Yes, yes, yes . . . there is nothing like good home cooking to warm the heart, satisfy the palate and of course protect the purse. . . after all, it’s not just the hips that pay the price of food indulgence, whether we dine in or out, but also purportedly, more of our hard-earned money too when we dine out.
Home cooking may be great and all that, especially if you are not the one doing the cooking, but nothing beats the allure and pleasure of tucking into a food experience away from home . . . be it with the street-side vendor, the cook-shop, the fast-food joint, the sports bar and grill, the regular, not exactly “fine-dining” restaurant, or the truly five-star, fine-dining establishment. There is just something so tantalizing (even if it is not always satisfying) about the whole “dining-out” experience, that makes all the effort and expense so worth it.
Perhaps it is because food is such a sensory experience. The sight, the sound, the smell, the feel, the taste… all complemented by the “company” of family, friends, complete strangers or your own private thoughts, that can be so much more enhanced dining out rather than at home.
Perhaps it is because food preparation can be so time-consuming and with dubious outcomes, especially if , like many of us, you don’t have the skill or the knack to do it right. Our lifestyles have become so busy, that time is premium value, and it so much “cheaper” to just grab a “quick bite on the fly” from an eatery, or double-up the experience of work and nourishment at a restaurant, or build-up social capital with a choice selection of fine dining experiences designed to please even the most discriminating palate.
Perhaps too, it is because dining out is just plain easier. All you have to do is show up, (or order in), and “be served”. There is no planning, shopping, preparation, serving, washing-up… just simply, wonderfully, indulgently, being served by someone else.
Or perhaps it is just the delicious opportunity to experience different foods, cultures, styles, location, packaging, place settings, ambience, occasions, or just the privilege and pleasure of exercising choice. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps… or perhaps not… to dine in or out, is no longer a profound Shakespearian dilemma.
A few years ago, in a Jamaican context, the question of whether to “ dine in or out” , would hardly arise. After all, Jamaica, it was felt, did not have an “eating out” culture . Now, the smorgasboard of foods on offer, throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica, from mountain-side to sea-side and in-between . . . breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the time, ‘round the clock throughout the day and night, stands as a delightful testimony to the fact that Jamaican are open to dining now more than ever before.
To dine in or out? It’s hardly a question to ponder anymore. A choice about which a friend of mine waxed almost lyrical in defending her fine dining indulgences “I am in love with the privilege of eating out at the temples of fine dining… the crispness of the linen tablecloths, the sparkle of the flatware, the pop of the cork, the muted sounds of other diners, the focus of the wait staff, the smell of each dish as it is placed on the table, and the perfect balance of seasoning in those first few bites… it’s a heady experience and I am hooked”.
Fine dining or not, like my friend, many of us are not just “hooked” on dining out, it is a lifestyle imperative, if not all the time, then many times over.