Going Dutch, Sharing Platters? It’s A Recipe For Disaster

Now don’t get me wrong. I like to share as much as the next person. Not my boyfriend, obvs (if I had one) but pretty much anything else is usually fair game.  I will share my home if you need somewhere to crash, I will share my wine, my coffee, my clothes my cosmetics and my thoughts on the world with anyone, but I do have one major finger-lickin’ issue.

Food. In that respect I am a bit like Joey Tribbiani from ‘Friends’. Bless him. His consumption of, and attitude to, his stomach is, frankly, terrifying but his plaintive infantile cry of ‘Joey doesn’t share food’, resonates with every hunger pang in my body.

I don’t mean I won’t let you have a cashew, or a twiglet, a biscuit or a taste of the carefully chosen Michelin star starter I ordered, even though you chose the worst and cheapest one. Oh no. I am egalitarian in that respect. It’s the concept of ‘sharing platters’ that gets my curried goat. Every trendy, hipster-twisted,  Time-Out favourite, cocktail serving, weekend pop-up or permanent café or restaurant in every city, especially London, now seems to be full of these.

I thought they were ‘so last year’ until I went, at the weekend , after a hard few weeks of scribbling in which I actually wrote in my blog about garden machinery more than once (check ’em out people) to a lovely little restaurant in my area with a group of so called friends, including a couple of my MowDirect colleagues (you know who you are Mr Hardy) for a cost-shared jolly meal (never a good idea in the first place) and someone said let’s just order a load of sharing platters. Maybe just starters. There’s always enough without ordering main courses. I have this to say. NO THERE ISN’T

To be honest, I’m a fairly slender thing, I don’t eat like a horse. I’m not about to fill up on carbs, stuff myself full of pitta, pizza, pasta and burger buns and make like

You won’t be smiling when Beardy Bobby reaches for the last piece of pizza

an episode of Man v Food (the gender is wrong for a start) but I do like a proper meal and I draw the line at Sharing Platters. Even the name fills me with a sense of dread and these questions come up every time this social nightmare is foisted on me…

  1. Have you washed your hands? Unlike Lady Ga-Ga, I don’t want to ‘share your disease’ and I don’t want to share a plate of paper-wrapped prawns with a chap who’s personal hygiene is any less than surgeon-like.
  2. Can you do maths? There are 8 of us and that platter of falafels is featuring, perturbingly, six. Whose idea was this?
  3. Can you do maths? 2. Don’t say, in a puppy-like TV charity appeal voice “Anyone mind if I have another one of these? I didn’t have any of the chicken.” Not my problem. I have my eye one on of those and it’s one each. Look at the numbers before I fling my house fizz in your lap and jab a wooden chicken tikka kebab skewer in your hand.
  4. Why is the plate permanently in front of you? You know who you are, loading up on the special fried rice before anyone notices. Put the plate in the middle and just stop it!
  5. Where did the beef go that was on top of those noodles? Cherry picking the best bits of the meal is not an option when you are supposed to be sharing with your friends. Put the beef back now and step away from the sweet and sour pork balls!
Where’s my chow-mein gone?

I’m sure you’ve all been there. It’s a jungle of issues. It doesn’t matter what the cuisine, it’s all the same. Someone orders something you are not keen on, even though you have made this known. Alcahol Andy down the end of the table has never been out before and is filling his glass with house Merlot to a level that would make any sommelier throw up their hands and scream (but then so would the wine). The friend of a friend who invited himself at the last minute has snaffled all the good salami from the anti-pasti plate. Someone pinched the portion of pig’s trotter earmarked for you and your recently baptised vegetarian actor friend from California, River Sunshine De-Luca, is flirting with the guy you really like while moaning about someone eating the smoked tofu… as if… and then quietly sneaking some kung-pao chicken “cos, you know, it’s only been like a couple of weeks”.

And that’s before you get to the bill. That’s the bit where you realise ‘Going Dutch’, splitting the bill, sharing the cost, whatever you want to call it is rather like a particularly dysfunctional meeting of NATO with exclusions, arguments and abstentions going on all over the place. Some people won’t tip, some people use a debit card, some people use cash some people use a credit card and, of course, there is always someone saying they didn’t actually have enough food to justify paying £40 per head. and by the way, all this hoo-haa is exactly why waiting people need a tip. It’s a chaotic puzzle worthy of the crustal maze trying work that lot out.

So. With Valentine’s day coming up, if you don’t have a date, there will be friends that try to tempt you into this. Come on, let’s commiserate together and have some fun. Don’t do it! You won’t have fun.

Take my advice, Find one good friend or even three and choose your own food, then very carefully and tactfully get one person – preferably your accountant – to organise the bill. Or better still, ditch the dutch,  just stick it on your credit card and arrange for your friends to pay next time. It’s much simpler.   See ya.   Holly.

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