Category Archives: Caveman Thoughts

anything you’re allergic to? – the rise & rise of food snobbery !

One of the countless positives of getting a little older and hopefully wiser …is that you get a lot more comfortable speaking your mind and also being a lot less tolerant of nonsense. There are countless examples of this in daily life… but there is one particular aspect of life I feel has slowly been getting out of control…. namely Restaurants.

There has never been a bigger global focus on food as there is currently. The big name chefs are treated like rock stars and they no longer sit in noisy hot kitchens…they are out there in our faces. They have become brand names and they demand outrageous money for their services. The latest financial crisis aside… most of the big name restaurants are booked out months in advance. Not because their food is suddenly so outstanding … but the marketing of food and cooking in general has reached incredible levels. Suddenly even average chefs have an attitude (not that most chefs ever lost the attitude) and they basically dictate what we can or can’t enjoy on our plates. The bigger the chef name…the less choice the customer has. You eat what’s given to you…quite literally. No variations accepted by the “chef”. He “knows” what is the “best” way to serve the chosen meal… and THAT is the way you have to have it.

Then of course there is the “set” menu routine. Now… I can understand from a management perspective that the chef wants to have a set menu… its far more efficient and it gives the kitchen the opportunity to do a number of things well. There are also a number of other arguments put forward by chefs…most of which I can “sort of” understand. If the chef happens to be a boy or girl genius who wants us to taste his/her new creations then I am comfortable in trying a set menu which highlights his/her skills. I am also comfortable in having a set menu from a Michelin-star chef who has an outstanding repertoire and you know that no matter what he (or she) serves you… it will be sublime (read: Ferran Adrià…Heston Blumenthal). The idea is to let the “master” take you on a gastronomic magic carpet ride… to expose your taste buds to  the equivalent of a multiple orgasm experience. That’s not only acceptable… but you would be willing to totally forgive the three month waiting list that normally applies to such establishments. We are talking a Multi-O experience after all… albeit gastronomic.

The problem is that some smaller places… as in “much” smaller places…. with chef’s that are clearly delusional… also develop an attitude and they start to dictate what you can or can’t do with the meal that your hard-earned cash buys from them. They have set menus and they often try to tell you that there are no variations to the “way the chef recommends” the meal is presented.

On top of that you have waiters that can often make Manuel (Faulty Towers) seem like a child prodigy…. and you have a very ordinary dining experience. I realise that good staff are hard to find… but a lot of the blame has to go to the so called owners/managers/chefs that obviously have no  control or are clueless as to the training and performance of their service staff. It can and often does turn what is meant to be a very pleasant experience… into something similar to watching a very bad sitcom… except you’re IN it.

Then you get the theatrical waiter… the guy who thinks that every table is a chance to perform a Monty Python skit. They become animated…raise their voice to ridiculous levels given the intimacy of most restaurants… and they generally act as if they are in a vaudeville act. The really bad ones also throw in some “attempted” humour… and actually laugh at their own jokes… whilst staring into the perplexed faces of the poor diners. Throw in a fake accent or two…and you have an evening of terrible theatre…. and that’s before you even tasted the food.

On a night when you just feel like a nice quiet dinner with a loved one… some beautiful food and a nice drop of fine wine…. you get bozo the clown telling you what you can or can’t have…. and almost yelling at you as he explains his inexplicable menu. Often in a fake Italian/French accent of course….

Try and picture this if you please… a tiny restaurant with every table full. The Bozo (aka maitre d‘) is prancing around as if he has ants in his pants and making more awful noise than the Sex Pistols did on their hey day. He goes from table to table to supposedly “explain” the menu… which is a weird combo of part “set” and part a la carte. His voice is like a boom-box that echoes off the walls of the tiny restaurant… everyone looking irritated except for him – he of course is totally enamored with the sound of his own voice. He runs through a well-rehearsed routine while he waves his arms around and gives everyone on the table the sort of fake smile you get from a neighbour when he looks at you whilst your dog is pissing on his front lawn. He finally arrives at our table (caps denote LOUD voice):

– GOOD EVENINGGGGGGGGG (fake Italian accent in full force)

– hi…

(after several lines of complete and utter drivel…)

– NOW… I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLAIN OUR SPECIAL MENU TO YOU…WILL ONLY TAKE A FEW MINUTES

– well… as a matter of fact (at this point he cuts me off…..it’s Saturday night after a long week…I’m tired and thoroughly pissed off by this stage)

– BUT…FIRST THING IS FIRST…. ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO ANYTHING?  (looks down on us with the fake smile)

– yes …as a matter of fact I am (returning the fake smile). I’m allergic to bullshit…..

– (silence…..blank stare, hands together in front of his chest…looking at the table but NOT directly at me)

– now…. (looking up at him)  I would like the Sicilian grilled octopus and the lady would like “xyz”…. we would also like a bottle of  “abc” and IF we require you for anything else I will call you…. (more fake smile)…. capish?

His beady little eyes are now looking down… he has his hands together in front of him…. nods deeply and almost whispers “very well sir”…

He retreats quietly to his kitchen area. Wife looks at me and says…. “that was cruel…”

– oh pleaseeeee….

In all honesty I fully understand what the restaurant staff go through…. I have been in the business and I know that customers can be very very painful. But at the end of the day it’s the customer’s money… and it’s the customer’s night out… he/she/they should be able to enjoy what they want… the way they want it. Without the theatrics or rudeness of Bozo the clown and without the prima-donna in the kitchen telling us what to have and how to have it.

Time we took back control of our dining experience……. just saying   ; ~/

Advertisements

Happiness…

– “I just want to be happy

– “With what”?

– “Just…happy!”

hmmmm…. am I missing something? Is happiness something so forehead-slapping obvious that I blinked and missed it? Is this person saying they want to be happy, period?  Happy with everything and everyone in their life…. for ever??? Can anyone seriously have that as a goal in life?

If they do (have that as a goal)… aren’t they building an enormous and very pointy brick against which they will be banging their head for the rest of their lives?

In reality… “I just want to be happy” is a statement made by a person who is more than likely living an unexamined life (read: a person who has not tried to truly understand how life “really” works… how reality behaves all around them… someone who has not seriously attempted to think about the philosophy of life). That’s not meant as derogatory. This ‘state of being’ represents the large majority of people on this planet… it is a simple fact.

The puzzling reality is that a lot of people DO have that as a goal. It is a humble goal… in their way of thinking. They don’t want millions… they don’t want to be movie stars or prime ministers… they just want to be happy. Little do they realise that they would be infinitely better off wishing to be millionaires or movie stars or prime ministers. At least all of those (whilst difficult) are indeed possible.

People always have a puzzled expression on their faces when my reply to their “Are you happy?” question is always “happy with what?”.  They are obviously puzzled that my simple brain can’t fathom their seemingly “simple” question. After all… “happy” is what everyone wants to be… right?

Well… forgive my simple brain but it likes to define things before it starts believing in them and certainly before it accepts them as goals in life. To my way of thinking “happiness”… the one thing that everyone seemingly seeks in life, is one of the worst defined & most vague of concepts ever created by humans. Actually…let me rephrase that. “Being happy” at a given moment in time is very easily defined. “Being happy” in terms of life as a continuum… well that’s where things get murky.

Imagine if someone invited you to come to a football field with the promise to have “fun” by playing a game. You get there only to find there are thousands of other people on the field already. Nobody knows what the game is, nobody knows what the rules are and nobody knows what the expected outcome is. You are just supposed to do it… and have fun “doing” it. Would you willingly join such a game?

If you answered NO yet your goal in life is to just be “happy”, then I ask you this… what’s the difference?

You see… there are certain habits people fall into that almost guarantee their ongoing unhappiness in life. One of those… paradoxically, is expecting to somehow one day be “happy” all the time. The problem is that unless you have a bong permanently attached to your mouth, or you’re taking valium 24/7, or you spend your days looking for the bottom of whiskey bottles… you ain’t never going to be happy “all the time”. It simply doesn’t exist… it doesn’t happen… it CAN’T happen.

This means that these people are chasing a ghost… an impossibility. It means they live in a constant state of disappointment with life because they are NOT happy yet and, as we now know, they never WILL be happy “all the time”. They have fallen into life’s biggest trap.

Others start early on to believe that “money” or a great education is the key to happiness. Or that the “big house” in the “right” suburb/city/country will result in eternal happiness. “If I could just live in ‘………….’, I would be in bliss”.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way. Money does not guarantee happiness, a big house does not guarantee happiness… infact posessions period do not guarantee happiness. They are just manic substitute desires.

A great number of people are so massively confused about what really makes them happy that if they sat down and gave the whole concept some real thinking time they would be shocked at themselves. They would realize they don’t really need most of the things they desire… and they never really needed most of the things they already have. It’s a zero sum game. We con ourselves, quite literally advertise things to our own brain… making ourselves “believe” that we need certain things in order to “be happy”. As long as those things are not in our lives we can not possibly be happy… which in turn means by not being happy we are not working/living/thinking at our full potential. It’s a vicious circle.

So not only people don’t really understand what really makes them happy… they don’t understand the concept itself. They imagine it as a perpetual “state of being”… having reached a certain level of wealth or status or achievement in society/business.

There are of course people who are living on a more self-conscious level… having thought deep and hard about their very existence, their purpose, their happiness and the contribution they can make towards the happiness of others. These are not enlightened people… they are not exotic mystic gurus or Tibetan monks. They are simply people they have realized the importance of questioning and understanding their existence on this planet. They have asked the difficult questions of themselves and of the world they live in. They are living what Socrates called an “examined life”.

My experience, for what it’s worth, leads me to believe that the following are true:

–  Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional

–  Change is inevitable – adapting is optional

–  Stressors (anger) are inevitable – but stress itself is optional

–  Mistakes are inevitable – learning from them is optional

–  Obstacles are inevitable – ways around them are optional

–  Resistance is inevitable – acceptance is optional

–  Ignorance is the default – Knowledge & understanding are optional

–  Existing is the default – a “good life” , a conscious life, living a life of purpose… is very definitely optional

–  Meetings are inevitable – “friends” are optional

–  “Feel good” (read: ‘instant gratification’) is the default – “Discipline” is optional

–  The freeway (common pathway) is the default – walking on virgin snow is highly optional

–  “Ubiquity” is the default – “Individuality” is personal conviction & style… both of which are incredibly optional

– “Yes” is the default – “No” is the discipline (especially to temptations… which are also ubiquitous)

–  A life of fame & fortune is delusional –  a life of dignity & purpose is a personal mission

– “Just enough” is more…

–  You can never fully appreciate your life… until you have pondered the question of death and what it means to you.

–  The world does not belong to those who create/dream/innovate/redefine….. it belongs to those who can execute/act/complete (if you can do both you are unstoppable)

–  Understanding “Time ” and having the “Patience” to make it work for you gives you an almost unfair advantage…

–  Everything in the universe is very finely balanced. Your own balanced life will fit harmoniously into that ecosystem. On the other hand…an unbalanced life is rejected like a bad transplant.

At the end of it all “happiness” is not something mythical or mystical. It’s really something very elegantly simple (as most good things in life tend to be). You can achieve it hourly/daily with very little effort and at no expense. All you have to do is figure out what it is… and all that takes is a little bit of thought…..  ;-)

PS: If you care to discuss further… please leave a comment or email.

 

Real men don’t blog !

Real men dont blog…

WHAT????

With a big smile on my face I sit here and try to put some thoughts together on an issue of recent discussion, that is both amusing and fascinating to me.

What the hell is a “real man” anyway? Who or what is he now days…what was he in the 90s or the 80s or the 70s?

The Marlboro man is dead… so is John Wayne. The Armani model looks and walks like a zombie and Woody Allen (the sensitive, quirky, new age guy)…. well, we all know what happened to him.

So who or what is a real man? How does one qualify? What is the optimum profile for a REAL man? Is there a set of standards one has to meet? If there  are such  standards…..who set them? How has the profile of a real man changed over the past 30 years? Or 50 years for that matter?

Hmmm….how to confuse a platypus !

What is a real man supposed to do or be? There is no position description for a man….nor a woman for that matter. But everyone in the media (those often faceless ghosts that want us to believe they know what’s best for us) seems to have an opinion on what a “real man” looks and sounds like, how he behaves and what his values should be. The advertising industry makes a killing from shaping male behaviour (as they do with women – to be fair), the head mechanics have more than their fair share of males on their couches and the gurus publish an endless number of self-help books annually.

Assuming that every woman has an opinion on what a “real man” is…. does she ever tell him/them? Obviously ethnicity and cultural background play a big role on perception, but how does a man learn how to “be” a man? From whom? Is the father the primary role model, or is it a film star, or a rock star, a porn star or a cartoon ?

What does a real man sound like anyway?  Does he talk with a voice so deep it sounds like a fog horn…. or can you  sing falsetto  (without sucking on helium) and still qualify as a “man” ?

And what does a real man do to show that he is a real man? Does a real man open doors for women or does he walk in first? Does he use aftershave or is that too fem? What about deodorant? Can you be a real man and still drink cappuccino? Would a real man…. ever walk a poodle on a lead?  What about stand with his hands on his hips???

Is a real man supposed to go shopping with his wife/girlfriend or is he supposed to hate shopping with a woman? Can a real man enjoy cooking? Is a real man supposed to be interested in fashion (read: be concerned how he looks and/or  is dressed)?

While we’re at it…. when does one become a “real man”? Is it automatic when you turn 35 or do you need to ferment for a while longer in the oak barrel of “real life”? And just how do you know when you’ve become a real man…. does someone tap you on the shoulder and invite you to a secret initiation of sorts (secret men’s business) or do you just judge it for yourself based on the reaction from women ?

If we assume that “real men” don’t wear tiaras, does that mean that a real man has to have “death before dishonour” tattooed on his arm/chest/back?

Can a real man be a romantic? Or does he demonstrate his mixed-martial arts fighting skills every time he takes his woman for dinner or drinks?
While we’re on dinner and drinks…. is a real man supposed to prefer a card night with other “real men”, as opposed to a quiet, romantic dinner and drinks with his wife/girlfriend/female companion?

What does a “real man” do at a Sunday bbq? Does he mingle and chat with women or does he stand next to the guy  “in charge the grill”, along with all the other “real men”….. and drink beer/wine while telling stories about “the one that got away”?  Is the amount of beer/wine one drinks an indication of real manhood ???

Is a real man supposed to use shaving cream or just cold water and a Booey/Bowie knife? Does he walk around with his shirt open… looking like a caricature of Barry Gibb or will a plain white T-shirt suffice? Is a real man the caring type… or too tough to give a damn…about anything?

And let us not forget sex. What the hell is a “real man” supposed to do about that? Does he sprint or does he pace himself? Does he ever wait for her or does he just please himself. Does a “real man” even care?
Should he care?

Right now I’m starting to ask myself how the hell I got myself into this topic…but it’s too late to start another post. Me thinks this is a never ending story. Me thinks I’m heading up a “certain” creek without a paddle with this post. It’s a bottomless pit, a circular argument, an endless journey, an exercise in perpetual futility.

The real question is do you know of a “real man”…. and does the bastard blog???