Monday, March 17, 2008
Small Plates Phenom
Have small plates usurped "regular" size main dishes? There's a lot of theorizing about it on the internets. This got me thinking.
Is the need for small plates indicative of an overall bite-size trend overtaking our culture? We want news in soundbites, short pithy articles that give you snappy prose in less space (when was the last time you actually read an article that 800+ words?). And of course, brief, ephemeral videos that entertain for nanoseconds before they get old.
Does it also speak to our non-committal approach to life? That we'd rather pick and choose from various sources/ethnicities/influences rather than stick to one overarching aesthetic philosophy?
Perhaps we are so all-embracing and the age of exclusivity has ceased. We have access to everything and everyone has access to us.
I'm all for succinct approaches to life. The less the better, and as a society we've certainly gorged ourselves into oblivion, but there's something labor intensive about all this shortness.
It takes more time to create small plates and they are consumed faster than large dishes. Does it add up to more waste? Possibly. A pile of small dishes as opposed to one T-Rex size platter. It's also easier to get lost in the relentless maw of consumption. This applies to information as well as food overload.
I took the picture above in Tel Aviv last year. This restaurant specializes in tapas-like canapes that sell for 6 shekels ($1.50) each. They are basically toast points with toppings like Camembert cheese, sardines, eggplant and feta, pesto and feta, etc. I was super-intrigued by the concept. But the truth is, the restaurant only works if you're only slightly hungry. In the mood for a quick bite, that sort of thing. But the appeal is undeniable. Perfect for hyper-selective, non-committal types. I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry thinking about that feta and pesto....