(as featured in the Sunday, 10 November 2013 issue of Dawn Newspaper: Images, page 8)
Whining & Dining was the first rant I ever wrote for Hunger & Haw Hai and, really, the pressure to perform was ridiculous. I was pumped, I was petrified and you have no idea how long I put off pushing that “publish” button. Back then, I never thought my nitpicking would make national news!
Hunger & Haw Hai has had a big year and it came to a close with a big bang when Whining & Dining Part 2 was picked up for publishing by Dawn newspaper.
Last year, my list was limited to the top 10 food scenarios that make my skin crawl. This year, thanks to my incredible editor, the list is bigger and badder than ever before and I’ve collected eleven more absolutely absurd food related faux pas that completely creep me out.
I’ve also left you a little love-note for later.
Now, I’ve said it before that if there's one quirk all food enthusiasts share, it's this: peeves usually come before praise. And I'm no different. In fact, when it comes to the complaints-before compliments policy, I have a complainer gene no man, woman, or wild beast can compete with. The thing is, even though I’m not fussy about my food, I’m easily irked.
So, time for a flashback, my friends!
By the by, the photos featured in this piece are my personal favorites from the past years posts.
Whining & Dining Part Deux: Hunger & Haw Hai’s Top 21 Food Peeves
- Restaurant reviews: Free food in exchange for writing a review? Sure. Because there’s no pressure to pen praise about an establishment that’s just paid for my meal, right? Take my advice: if you really can’t live without writing reviews, be all Bond about it i.e. operate undercover.
- Fishy fish: This one is guaranteed to trigger my gag reflex. It should smell of the sea, not stink of it.
- Waiters who won’t wait: Have you ever been watched like a hawk when you’re trying to chill out and chow down? Sure, waiters are trained to turn tables, but it’s bad manners trying to terrorize me into eating a mile-a-minute meal.
- Baking: That kind of precision is too authoritarian for my taste. What happened to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of adapting recipes with reckless abandon?!?
- Complicated garnish: Save the curling, twirling, and swirling skills for the origami class.
- Dodgy delicacies: Extreme dining doesn’t do much for me. Care for a mouthful of Casu Marzu? FYI, it’s rotten cheese riddled with a writhing mass of maggots. How about a bowl of bird’s nest soup, made mainly from bird saliva and spit? Insects, anyone? Let’s leave that kind of bravery to Anthony Bourdain.
- Over-saucing: Say it with me: less is more. Drown my food in a river of sauce and prepare to drown in a flood of my wrath. Seriously, Hell hath no fury...
- Pretentious menus: So let me get this straight: the harder it is to pronounce the higher the price?
- Sad sides: Mysterious mounds of curly-fried something or the other, tired trios of boring blanched veggies, retro tomato rosettes, bread so stale it’ll stab you in the mouth before you can swallow it, forgotten-in-the-fryer fries. We’re all victims here.
- Limp lettuce and soggy salads: Come on, I think we can all agree that limp anything is rarely attractive. And a soggy salad is just sad.
- Faux fine dining: White plates can work wonders, but it’s not nearly enough to make a memorable evening. Britney and The Backstreet Boys blaring in the background are a big-time buzz-kill.
- Atrocious food imagery: Dear Pakistani food channels, I have it on good authority that the appeal of edibles is directly proportional to the awesomeness of its appearance. Translation: humans eat with their eyes. Stop assaulting them with sloppy serving suggestions and appetite-killing close-ups of ancient ingredients.
- Innards, Offal, Guts and Gizzards: I'm not a vegetarian, but there's something very Hannibal Lecter about gorging on animal guts.
- Obscure ingredients: No, my local supermarket does not carry salt made from fairy tears or fine cuts of unicorn meat.
- Laugh-out-loud lingo: Okay, I’ll admit I secretly enjoy some of these slip-ups, but a) I’m a stickler for spelling and b)I don’t enjoy Da Vinci Code style explanations of what I’m about to eat . “Beef tornadoes”, “profit rolls”, “absolutely adorable yellow, yummy, scrumptious sauce”. What? WHAT?
- Tiny portions: If you're going to be a Scrooge about my food, I'll remember to be a Grinch about your tip.
- Up-sized portions: I'm not a beast. I don’t want to eat like one
- Self-proclaimed foodies and food snobs: “Foodie” is just hipster for "food nerd." And no, I don’t get the fuss over foie gras, I’m not crazy about caviar and I’ve never eaten eel or emu.
- Fast food that costs a small fortune: Really, Rs. 800 for a B-grade burger and fries? Close to a thousand rupees for a thin crust pepperoni pizza? All I can say is show me the shawarma!
- The frozen yogurt frenzy: First, unless you’re fifteen, refrain from referring to it as “fro-yo”, forever. Second, I’d applaud your whole-hearted attempt at making healthy diet decisions if you’d stop acting so smug and superior about it.
- Going gaga over gluten-free: Up until thirty seconds ago you weren’t even aware of gluten’s existence and suddenly you’re convinced you’re going to die a slow and painful death if you continue to consume it? Quick, name three foods that contain gluten! Yeah, I didn’t think so.