"How can lunch be hazardous?" you ask. The answer is gender stereotypes.
Let me explain. I like to eat. Everyone who has ever been out to lunch or dinner with me knows that I really, really enjoy food of any ethnic origin and in large quantities. I'm well aware of the fact that I really should abstain from certain foods, or, at the very least monitor my portion sizes, but when faced with a mouth-watering menu, my willpower slinks back into its little cave waving a white flag.
Yesterday was 12/12/12 and I was lucky enough to be out celebrating the birthday of a good friend with around twenty five other people - mostly female. At 12:12pm we toasted with champagne, sang "Happy Birthday" and food started to arrive. Good food: appetizers wrapped in pastry and crunchy, cheesy pizza slices, most of which was passed around without being touched, in favor of salads, until those platters got to me, and I happily munched on the carb-laden delicacies. Thankfully there were a few other ladies who also partook of this feast, which made me feel better. Did I mention that I also really like other people who love to eat?
Last week, I had lunch with a male friend of mine at another one of Laguna's many fabulous dining venues. I eat there a lot, so I kind of know the menu by heart. After some mulling, I ordered the prime rib dip with red wine au jus, horseradish sauce and a side of warm potato salad. He ordered salad. So far, so good.
When our food arrived, the waiter proudly set the dishes in front of each of us and we stared at our plates.
"Um, I didn't order the salad," I muttered. Apologetically, the waiter quickly switched the dishes and my friend and I both started to laugh. "I guess it's somewhat unusual that the woman didn't order the salad," I said to the waiter. As well-trained as he was, the young man didn't rise to the bait, but smiled beatifically and left us to our repast.
So here's the question: is it un-lady-like for a female to eat anything in public that isn't a salad? And is it un-manly to actually order a salad if you're male?
I never really ate a lot of salads in England. Probably because when I was growing up, a "salad" was a couple of pieces of wilted lettuce with some soggy tomatoes, accompanied by a British condiment called salad cream. I know that all salads here are awesome, and yes, I do eat them, but when I feel like it, not just because I happen to be in a restaurant, worrying about appearances.
I'm having lunch out again today, with a couple more male colleagues. If you happen to be in the same restaurant, I'll be the one not eating salad.