… is to behave like a monkey; rather like the proverbial three monkeys epitomized by the 2500-year old Chinese code of conduct of See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil. The three-prodded monkey lesson in the context of fine dining goes as follows:
Don’t look at the place where the food is prepared; and keep your eyes away from the washing area. Usually, washing raw food material as a preliminary step in cooking is skipped in most commercial kitchens. However, if you are lucky to be in an establishment that still believes in washing to remove superficial dirt and germs, then ignore the cloth that is used to wipe the veggies and the utensils. You may not like the sight of a single brownish-black rag being used to wipe the veggies, the utensils, the kitchen ledge, the cook’s sweaty brow, and also to swat flies!
Reference to the cook, reminds me, that you must also refrain from looking at the cook, specially, never espy the dirt in his fingernails, or catch him with a finger in his nose, ears, or any other bodily aperture that can be finger-prodded. You may also not like the sight of his finger dipped in quick succession between the serving dish and his mouth, as he samples your meal to ensure perfect salt content. (Now, you know exactly how your food sometimes tastes a little bit too salty to suit your taste buds.)
After you learn a lesson in “Don’t See”, the next step is to learn the rule of “Don’t Hear”. This one is a pretty simple rule and is related specifically to never listening too hard at the door behind which your food is being cooked. Un-tune your ears to any sound of sneezing, coughing, sniffing, sniffling, wheezing, scratching, belching, farting, dropping (then picking up), and in particular any sounds of rummaging in the garbage bin. Also try to ignore any animal sounds like a mice squeak, a kitten meow, or a dog’s friendly woof from the kitchen area.
The last rule of “Don’t Speak” is the simplest to follow. Curb all temptation to order those fancy dishes with difficult foreign names and ingredients that you have never heard of. I remember asking for crunchy fried rice in a Chinese restaurant and being served a bowl of onion sautéed puffed rice, for a ridiculously high price.
Once you learn to follow the above rules of monkey-like prudence, you are all set to enjoy a fulfilling meal, anywhere, anytime! So here are three cheers to the secret of fine dining!