Lighten up: Is that all there is?
Tapas restaurants: itty bitty plates, teeny tiny portions and one small question: Where’s the flippin’ beef?
These fancy-pants eateries are the latest trend and based on the concept of appetizers as dining. The “tapas” (Spanish word meaning ‘ridiculously tiny mouse meal‘) are passed around and shared amongst the table.
F.Y.I? Anyone attempting to split my grub will draw back a bloody hand, featuring a protruding fork. I am an American girl of German lineage, raised in Youngstown around a bunch of Italians. I need some portions, yo. Meat, potatoes - and probably pasta.
Somehow, several of these eateries have popped up around Columbus. Great idea! Give one of fattest cities in one of the fattest nations, well, no food. Yeah. That’ll work. No wonder the restaurants’ valets spend their evenings texting.
Not knowing what I, er, wasn’t getting myself into, I went to one of these joints recently. I’m a sucker for a beautiful place, with the fancy lighting and whatnot.
Trouble was, no one had told me of the Mouse Meals.
When my food arrived, I thought the server had made a mistake: three miniscule corn tortillas artfully arranged with a few tablespoons of salsa substance. What my husband likes to call “them-there European Portions.”
“Miss? I’m sorry. I didn’t order an appetizer. I ordered the fish tacos?” I said to the waitress.
“Oh Ma’am,” she said, losing tip percentage for old-ladyma’am word usage, “That is your meal. We serve tapas here...”
I examined my plate. I rubbed my eyes, and looked again. Enough food for, say, a kitten.
“Ma’am, usually people share each other’s tapas…” said the soon-to-be-tip-less server.
So I looked at my friend’s plate. She had a similar lack of grub. Between the two of us, we could have fed a small…..child.
I decided to really let that server have it! Give them the old what-for! Just let that joint’s management know exactly how I felt!
“Okay - great! Thanks!” I said,.
Sigh. My friend and I exchanged glances. I knew what she was thinking: Just who’s the Einstein who came up with this concept, in this economy? Folks are poor!
She and I had decided to eat out as a special treat. Two working moms, full of your typical Mommy-Guilt. We don’t get out much. This lunch was our big hurrah for the month. And here we were. Stuck with the European Portions and a beautiful young waitress who was “ma’am”-ing us into an early grave.
So we made the best of it. Dug in, so to speak. And let me tell you, there was no sharing going on: those few bites of food weren’t going anywhere but down - into our guts.
Three minutes - and $30 each - later, we were done. Our normally way-too-brief 45-minutelunch was more than enough. The good news? We still had time to hit the vending machines before clocking in.
I know, I know. This is the way French women eat, and the reason they’re all so thin and gorgeous. Blah, blah, blah - whatever.
But I’m from the U.S.A. Give me my large plate, my giant portions and my big belly. It’s the American Way.
Dawn Weber is a Brownsville wife and mother of two pre-teens who commutes daily to Columbus for her full-time job.