Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eating for the Sake of Others

A couple weeks ago one of my best friends from college and I were sitting around, talking, and sharing music with each other. My friend has a job which allows her to listen to her iPod all day, and she was playing songs from the four albums or so she listens to the most. When we started on some of my music, we discussed how differently music sounds when you play it for someone else for the first time. Especially when that person has musical taste you trust and respect. It's a separate level of judgement for a song, and you already know that you like it, but there's pressure on you when someone you know is being exposed to your current favorites.

After I'd thought about this for a little while, it dawned on me that sharing new restaurants or cooking with another person generates a similar feeling. When I cook for friends for the first time, or when I make something that my guest has never had, I try to analyze the food from another perspective. If I take visitors to one of my favorite restaurants, I worry about how they'll see it, and constantly wonder if I made the best choice.

Last weekend, for example, my grandparents came to visit me in Richmond, and they wanted to take me out for a nice dinner. My first instinct was Can Can, not only for the food but because it has such an exciting atmosphere, but my grandma wasn't overly thrilled with the menu because they serve a lot of seafood. I knew that my grandparents aren't so in to Asian or Mexican cuisine, and they've already been to the White Dog, so I opted for Italian. The options were even more limited because they came on a Sunday, but Edo's Squid is open - thankfully - all weekend. The meal went smoothly for the most part, and I was rewarded with my grandparents' praise of the food along with a hefty container of leftovers: sausage and pasta.

I had the same anxious feeling a few days ago, when I baked a cake that I don't indulge in very often (chocolate with peanut butter chips and chocolate peanut butter icing) to bring over to a friend's house. They have a comparable passion for dessert, so I knew that they'd eat it, but I still wanted them to enjoy it as much as I do. We ended up eating nearly the whole thing by the end of the night, so I didn't have to wonder how much everyone liked it.

It's difficult to try to inflence someone's tastes, but it's still fun to compare opinions and share personal preferences, whether musical or culinary.

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