Daily Archives: January 6, 2010

Ruminations on eating olives in an upscale restaurant

At Paul’s work Christmas party he won a gift certificate to a marvelous restaurant (the owner of Paul’s company is also a part owner of this restaurant) in the pearl district of Portland, so we arranged for a babysitter and prepared for a fun night on the town. We don’t make it to Portland very often, let alone the pearl district and looking forward to the opportunity.

I must take a moment to say now that I was a little nervous. My experience with NICE restaurants is limited. I felt a little like my character Belinda – the farm-girl tomboy planted in the middle of an upscale big city area. Yikes! My main worry was that my goofy tendencies would embarrass me horribly.

My biggest restaurant eating fear is ordering a dish where you have to cut meat around the bones and still look refined and lady-like. I never quite got the hang of that one. So imagine my dismay when our plates arrive and I am staring at divinely succulent, bone-in lamb. With no small amount of trepidation I approached the lamb and almost sighed aloud in relief as the meat fell away from the bone without any effort on my part.

It had been a long time since I had lamb – I don’t think I have had it since my farm days, well, I may have had some at a Mongolian grill restaurant or something, but that hardly seems to count as it is thinly sliced and carries merely the hint of the flavor. The lamb at this restaurant was divine. Paul had the roasted chicken (which was bone in too, and it didn’t fall off the bones as easily as my lamb did, which made me relieved I had gone with the lamb 😉 ) and it was divine as well. The best chicken either of us have ever tasted. Mmmmm.

With that major pitfall avoided I sat back to enjoy my meal, and then I eyed the olives accompanying the lamb on my plate.

I knew instinctively they were not pitted and so began the debate. Do I ignore them? for how does one eat olives in an upscale restaurant with decorum and dignity?

I attempted for a moment to pin one down to the plate with my fork, but the pit kept getting in my way and it would go skidding from beneath it in a mad dash to freedom. I passed one to Paul to observe how he (slightly more experienced than myself) would go about it. He had no trouble at all pinning it down with his fork and cutting away. Of course, part way through he became tired of the ordeal and popped the thing in his mouth when no one was looking. A second later I heard a soft plink as the pit was deposited on the side of his plate.

I looked at him in accusation. How could he possibly get away with that? I knew, I would never pull it off. I counted off the dangers of eating olives and began to make a list, while Paul listened in amusement.

1. In an attempt to spear the olive I manage to launch it, hit the waiter in the eye, cause him to stumble backwards, dumping food and drinks all over the neighboring table.

2. In an attempt to spear the olive I launch it at the wall of wine bottles, knock out the bottom one and send them all crashing in a deafening wave of glass and liquid. Of course corks go popping and nailing people in the back of heads and what-not.

3. Worse yet, I attempt to spear the olive and launch it into the open mouth (as the person is taking a bite) of a patron at said neighboring table, so they choke on it and I become a murderer.

4. I decide to forego decorum and dignity and pop the olive in my mouth. The minute I do, Paul’s boss undoubtedly shows up and there I sit with cheeks full of olive as I stare blankly at him. At this point I either choke on it from insanely nervous laughter, or trying to swallow the evidence in a hurry. Paul has to perform the Heimlich and then either 1 or 2 happens all over again.

5. Same as three, but I manage to get to the point where I need to dispose of the pit discreetly. Paul’s boss walks in at that moment. I could attempt to cough and hide the pit in my hand, but undoubtedly that would be the hand he would want to shake, or I would be left sitting there for an indeterminable amount of time with a soggy olive pit in my hand. (ewwww)

6. I get to the pit disposal point, manage to get it discreetly onto my plate (so I think) and find everyone (Paul’s boss included) staring at me in horror at my lack of decorum and dignity.

After making my list, I decided what was life without a little adventure? So I decided to approach dignity and decorum one more time and successfully maneuvered my way through olive eating 101. No eyes were poked out and Paul’s boss never showed up. (he wasn’t expected, mind you, just part of my list)

Of course, Paul had the decency to point out that once I made this post something would undoubtedly say, “The olives were a garnish. You weren’t supposed to eat them.”

It really was a marvelous restaurant and a very fun experience.

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