Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A secret spice

Last month, we went out to dinner at a fancier restaurant than usual. It was our fifth wedding anniversary. We discussed ordering an appetizer, and I asked my partner what he would like. He told me I should get whatever I wanted, because my menu options were so scarce (I am vegetarian).

It struck me as odd that my vegetarianism was seen as a burden. True, he, as an omnivore, had the choice of a few dozen delicious-sounding dishes. While I had the choice of three or four very appetizing dishes. I pointed out that, according to Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice, my smaller menu should make me happier with my food. Which, after reading the book, I think is true: I savor good food more now than I did before restricting myself to a vegetarian diet. But, it's not something I would have realized on my own. Self-denial is not an intuitive pathway to satisfaction with life.

In a typical week, I cook for us three times, we eat out two or three times, and our remaining meals we fend for ourselves around the house. On those nights, my partner and I often struggle with what to feed ourselves. He commented yesterday that the angst of selecting from all the food in our house was perhaps not worth it, "If all I had was wheat berries and water, I would know what I was having for dinner."

I hadn't realized this was one reason he liked my cooking. It's not just the meal preparation I do for him, it's restricting his options for dinner. I cook it, he eats it. And savors it more than he would if there were other options.

1 comment:

Keith Bertelsen said...

Huh. I never really thought about it that way, but that makes a lot of sense.

It also explains why I tend to enjoy restaurants I frequently go to: I always end up ordering the same thing. No need to worry about choice or anything.