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The curmudgeon report: Dining out often brings too much food

A lot of things can go wrong when you go out to a restaurant.

The food might be mediocre, the service could be atrocious and the price might be high enough to finance a payment on an Audi.

Or, like a friend of mine who has a black cloud permanently sitting over her head, you could routinely get your meal 40 minutes after the rest of the table is served. All these possibilities are a given and most of us can relate to that experience.

But another problem that comes up when you eat out involves the portions that are provided by a growing number of eateries, not only in the area, but throughout the land of plenty. They simply bring you too much to eat.

Now that might not be a problem for the growing teenager or the healthy middle-aged meat and potatoes mouth. Neither is it a concern for some senior citizens, who view a night out to an eatery as an opportunity to stock up on future dinner entrees via the “doggie bag.” (More than likely, they don’t have a pooch at home but they do have a desire to wolf down the rest of the dinner they ordered the night before.) But it pains me to see the food left on the table after a night out.

During WWII, my Polish grandmother used to virtually chant about wasting food. “Eat it all up because, as you know, the people in Poland are starving,” was her mantra.

So we finished our plate, thus assuring those Poles she talked about would not go around with empty stomachs. Thinking about it now, I don’t know how eating everything on my plate solved malnutrition problems across the Atlantic, but in my childhood my grandmother knew all, so we never questioned her pronouncements.

Today, almost every restaurant — except those that consider themselves gourmet, which automatically means little food for lots of money — provides excess in everything they serve.

Hamburgers in some restaurants are so big and moist, you dribble as you dive into them, and you may not even be able to eat it all all without a knife and fork. Salads are huge and, rather than serving as a predecessor of the main plate, tend to leave you stuffed and satisfied, even before the entrée arrives.

It is not just dinners that overflow with food. Other ordered meals are just as jumbo. Breakfasts are filling. The sandwiches at lunch are giant and the dinner portions keep growing in size. But all is not lost.

One area restaurant I visited recently offers one pancake for your morning chow down, and for many of us, that is plenty. I discovered another approach we can take to help resolve this problem: When ordering, concentrate on the appetizers.

More and more often, I have found the appetizer alone satisfies the palate. It is time to return to reason. Provide quality food in reasonable amounts and everyone will be happy.

This gripe, though not major, rates at least a six on the blood-boiling scale. Maybe even higher when you focus on the fact that much of the world would be thrilled to get that doggie bag we bring home and often throw way.

By the way, have you noticed the piggy portions of food usually do not apply to desert items? Order a piece of cheesecake or a piece of pie and you might need a microscope to find the sweet that tops things off.

Winslow recently moved to Williamsburg, but has written his Curmudgeon Report for more than a dozen years. He wonders how rapidly your blood is boiling on this issue? Let him know at donwin16@gmail.com.

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