I had a very common experience for me, whilst out to lunch the other day. My husband chose all the good dishes and everything I chose turned out to be awful.
How does this happen I ask myself?
I think I get carried away by all the delightful, juicy, mouth-watering descriptions of the food and forget such essentials as that I am really not keen on duck and orange together. Or that ordering fish on a Monday lunchtime is not a good idea (bet you that fish got delivered on Saturday, if not before) and that I always dislike fennel in anything.
The result is that whilst Kevin tucks into his meal, I end up forking mine round the plate, looking at him moodily and hoping against hope that the next course will be better than this one. Which sadly, all too often, is not the case.
For me, eating out is an adventure. Like everyone else out there, we are now eating out less than before so I really want to make sure that every meal counts. Like Mae West – 'When faced with a choice between two sins, I always choose the one I've never tried before' – I always go for the strange combination, the unusual ingredient and the wackiest names.
I should know better really – when you see the waiter wincing at your choices, you can be sure it's because he knows that this is the restaurant's duff dish. Something that you are not going to enjoy, will complain or just be unhappy about with a guaranteed terrible tip for him.
Whereas Kevin orders the exact same meal in every restaurant – how wrong can you go with soup, steak with a mushroom sauce and crème brÃ»lée?
Of course, every now and then, I do get it right and then it is sublime. Meals to dream about in the wee small hours of the morning so that you wake up salivating over that crab and lobster ravioli and drooling over that burnt raspberry cream tart. And that is precisely what makes adventurous eating worthwhile.
I don't think I shall ever understand the huge numbers of boring eaters out there – those people for whom dining out either involves either a flat disk of dough with the same-old toppings (yawn) or a hunk of meat lurking under a suspiciously gloopy sauce (double yawn).
Me, I'll try anything once, except incest and folk dancing, as the saying goes. And over the years that has included snake, sea-urchin gonads, 100-year old Filipino eggs, haggis and all manner of mostly awful offal. If it's weird and delicious then it's got my name all over it, so bring on the Deep-fried Dingo's Kidneys and the Sweet and Sour Goat Intestines.
All suggestions, experiences and (most importantly) recipes, gratefully received!
Cathy Marston is the owner of The Nose Restaurant & Wine Bar and a fulltime, professional eater and drinker. Any food, any drink, anywhere, anytime...