When I am hungry, I will eat just about anything. The same is not true for my husband, who has a very particular taste in restaurants. I have struggled to contain my impatience at times when he scours through websites reading reviews and comparing menus before finally making a decision. While this vetting process can be frustrating to me, Derek always chooses the best places for us to eat. I have come to truly appreciate his standards in food and now take the time to gain more perspective from the taste buds of my own restaurant connoisseur.
The critic’s most pressing motivation for restaurant selection is knowing where our food comes from. Derek was convinced by the evidence uncovered in documentaries like Hungry for Change and Food, Inc. leading him to continue his own research so that he would know what to look for. A quality restaurant should have simple, fresh ingredients sourced from a local market. For example, we don’t order fish if there isn’t a lake or ocean nearby. I myself, have started asking the server to describe what is included in the side of mixed veggies or fruit to find if the produce is even in season. Great food should have color, flavor, and be served in the correct portion size. A quality meal should be just enough to satisfy the appetite and not overwhelm us to over-eat or take-out. An appetizer is meant to be a small bite while the meal is being prepared and not become the only food you have room for by the time dinner has arrived. While we still eat at chain restaurants on occasion, there is an incredible difference between a locally sourced, organic meal and one that has been mass-produced.
Derek and I have pretty ordinary habits when eating out by revisiting our favorite restaurants nearby and ordering the same meal that we liked last time. The quest for healthy restaurants while traveling has become Derek’s area of expertise on our trips. While his selection-process is dependent on credible reviews, menu descriptions, and online images, there is also a bit of intuition and luck that goes into finding a great meal. On our most recent vacation in Canada, we delighted in the Japanese Ramen at Boku Noodle in Toronto and the fine dining of local cheeses and roasted hen at Social Restaurant in the capital city of Ottawa. The Queen Victoria Place Restaurant in Niagara Falls taught us just how fulfilling a salad can be when we each devoured a protein bowl layered with 7 grain rice, chopped vegetables, feta cheese, and baby greens. Sometimes, we just want a simple “Midwestern” meal at a place like The Burnt Tongue in Hamilton, Ontario where a different pot of soup is made from scratch every day. We ordered burgers, fries with chipotle mayo, and a bowl of creamy chicken soup that melted in our mouths. The satisfaction of a quality meal in an inviting atmosphere is a more worthwhile experience to my restaurant connoisseur than just filling our stomachs because it’s dinnertime.
Thinking like a food critic has inspired me to expand my palate and raise the bar with my eating habits. I have taken notice of Derek’s preferences and made them my own intentions. In my kitchen, I have been challenging myself to experiment with new recipes and cook with fresh ingredients on a more regular basis instead of just eating well when dining out. Quality food does come at a cost, but I can continually strive for healthy habits with good nutrition. I’d like to thank my husband for being a picky eater so I can learn to be a picky eater too.