From time to time on this site, I document the high drama of PaneerQuest2003*, the epicurean adventure in which my friend Kyria and I indulge. Our search for tiptop saag paneer in Manhattan’s bounty of Indian restaurants has unearthed some delightful treasures as well as some less than savory samples. Thankfully, however, the good experiences outnumber the bad, because less-than-good food makes me not so happy. I feel more sorry for the inadequate food itself than for the stomach that acts as host. Not-so-good food that comes to the table all eager to be eaten reminds me of dorky girls who go to the school dance hoping they won’t have to remain wallflowers all night and then wind up dancing together in a little circle around their purses.
The last time Kyria and I went out for Indian food together, we got a little daring, and instead of the usual saag paneer, we ordered mushroom saag. The food was the belle of the ball! Today we followed that same lead and veered from paneer once again. Today we both ordered mushroom saag at Gandhi:
I always feel somewhat self-conscious when the person I’m eating with orders the same dish as I do. When I know this is going to be the case because for some reason I must know what the other person is having before they order it I like to place my order first. I do not like to be the one who has to say with a sheepish, apologetic smile directed up to the waiter, “I’ll have the same thing.” I am convinced that the waiter, unwilling to outwardly scoff at us at the table, mocks us once in the kitchen. I think the waiter, when he brings the food, wants to place a dish in front of each of us and then say, pointedly, “Oh, no, wait,” as he switches the plates, one eyebrow raised in derision.
So in order to avoid any awkwardness, I asked the waiter to seat me at a table on the other side of the room before Kyria and I placed our orders. Kyria and I chatted to each other via our cell phones until the waiter entered the room with the food. Once our dishes were placed before us and the waiter disappeared, she called me back and asked me to join her.
“Can we switch plates midway through our lunch,” I said, “so I can have some of yours and you can have some of mine?”
She told me my suggestion was ridiculous. Some people really do have nerve!
*Note: Continuation of PaneerQuest2003 in 2004? I do not know if we can, in all honesty, call it PaneerQuest. SaagQuest2004 is more likely. I must confer with Kyria, if she is still speaking to me after today’s debacle.