Lucky Dip – Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I’m not sure calling yourself a supertaster is an excuse for being a picky eater. Sure, flavours are stronger to people with more tastebuds, but that doesn’t mean supertasters don’t like those flavours… or textures, smells, etc., which is the typical complaint of a fusspot. [Toronto Star]

It was the hottest dining trend a few years ago, but, hands up, who else is kind of sick and tired of having to sit with strangers at a big communal table? [Bon Appetit]

Sweet merciful crap, Trader Joe’s and every other store out there – we will pay the extra goddamned penny for a pound of tomatoes so farm workers can live like human beings. Honest. We’re all happy to do it. Stop stalling! [ZesterDaily]

News from the stupid unsupported scientific “study” world – go ahead and yo-yo diet! Lose that weight, gain it back, don’t worry about it. We did it to mice, and they were fine! [Toronto Sun]

Ah, yes, irradiation. I wondered how long it would take for someone to trot out an argument in favour of irradiation after this e.coli mess. [Associated Press/]

Jamie Kennedy puts his name on a new restaurant in Niagara Falls, but it’s chef Ross Midgely who will be running the day-to-day operations. [Toronto Star]

More on the new US food guide, pointing out the good and the bad. [National Post]

Why Canadians drink more beer than whisky. [Toronto Standard]

Word of Mouth: restaurant news, a new menu at Vertical, and calling your wine bluff. []

Gather Round the Table

I haven’t met anyone who isn’t just a little bit sceptical of the communal dining trend, except perhaps restaurateurs who have added a communal table in the hopes of using it for either large groups or stragglers. For most of us, our inclination when going out to eat is to dine and talk with the people we came with. Strangers can be, well… strange, and dining with people we don’t know – people who might have odd table manners, or smell funny, or natter on and on about some topic we have no interest in – can make an otherwise lovely evening turn out to be a bust.

Communal dining isn’t a new idea, though, it’s as old as the discovery of fire when prehistoric man gathered round a single heat source to cook  food. Even without the restaurant trend, it exists today in the form of dinner parties, bed and breakfasts,wedding banquets and office lunches. We eat together to celebrate an occasion, to get to know one another, to strengthen bonds. And often we find ourselves eating with people who start out as strangers but who are friends, or at least acquaintances, by the time dessert is cleared.

Despite being a curmudgeon and a bit of a misanthrope, I find myself at a communal table at least once a month, often more. Most of the time, the dinners I attend are comprised of other food writers; colleagues who have been invited to cover the event or a specific product. But I’ve also been to plenty of dinners that are purely social, because I am interested in the food, or the experience.

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