At this point it's not news that food is just as susceptible to conservative swings as politics and religion—in tough times, people want to get back to the things they're comfortable with. The double whammies of 9/11 and a prolonged recession sent the '90s-era wave of precious haute cuisine grinding to a halt.
We're thrilled people stopped treating food like it was sacred—nothing makes us happier than a chef at the top of the game putting as much thought into a plate of nachos as a dry-aged steak. But somewhere between the first haute hamburger and the Rice Krispies treat bakery, casual and fun got edged out by straight-up childish.
We're firm believers that there's room for all kinds of dining, as high- and low-brow as you can get. Bring on the queso-smothered tater tot and the 20-course tasting menus, the trompe l'oeuil vegetable plates and the ramen burgers. What we can't get behind is people who've taken this casual shift as permission to act like babies about food. Sure, when your mom made you dinner as a kid, you got to be as weird about it as you wanted, putting ketchup on everything or only eating with a spoon. But when a chef puts time and effort into creating a dish—and even a fancy hamburger has had time and effort put into it—it's only right to give it the respect it deserves.
As the pendulum swings back and new restaurants start taking creative risks again, it's time to swing ourselves back with it. After all, there's no quicker way to turn off a date than questionable table behavior. The solution? Bring back some classic moves that have been neglected for decades, and drop the childish act once and for all.
Get started on our 10-step program for eating and drinking like an adult (even if you are still just pretending to actually be one).Click to start the list