Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sharing plates

One of the big sacrifices Paul had to make in marrying me was learning to share food. When we first met he soon discovered that I am a devotee of the mezze, the antipasto, the dim sum, the fondue, the "mixed starter for 2" and the "banquet for 4". I am also wont to ask for a taste of his meal. He really prefers having his own plate of food.

As a reward for his sacrifice, I have promised not to attempt to acquire a taste for oysters natural, so there is still one thing he can order without having to share it with me. I think his habit of always ordering soup as a starter in Chinese and French restaurants is also protective - it's quite difficult to pass a spoonful of soup over the table.

Sharing food "tapas style" is quite chic at the moment. From Wahaca's Mexican street food with its little plates of tacos and tostadas, to Polpo's chichetti, there are lots of places doing small plates of little tastes, designed to be ordered en masse and shared. I love it. For a greedy person who wants to taste everything on the menu it is ideal. Other people are less convinced.


Paul has also been very patient in accepting the sharing plate concept as it has drifted into our house. At home, it is much more likely to be due to my laziness, in only wanting to wash up one communal dish, but I also like the comfy, romantic part of sitting together over a single plate.

Beth's tomato, bacon and feta bake is a gorgeous dish for this style of eating. Of course you could make individual gratins, or dish it out into separate bowls, but plonking it, sizzling and bubbling from the oven, on a cork mat on the table between you is really nice. A good chunk of crusty bread each and some wine are all you need.


Pan bagnat is a delicious sandwich, pretty much impossible to make in individual portions. It's basically a salad nicoise stuffed into a slightly hollowed out crusty loaf, which is then pressed to make slicing into tranches possible. You can do it with just grilled vegetables (aubergine, courgette, peppers) or with tomatoes, tuna, radishes, anchovies, olives... pretty much anything with that sort of Provencal robust flavour. It makes a great picnic dish and a really substantial lunch. I'm sending it over to Deb's Souper (soup, salad and sammie) Sunday.

SouperSundays

For something particularly special, this baked spider crab dish is really delicious. Lacking the patience for picking a crab myself (and lacking access to really fresh seafood) I used tubs of pasteurised brown and white crabmeat from the supermarket. The flavours are much gutsier than I would usually put with crab, but it holds up to the chilli, tomato and saffron really well. Again, wine and some crusty bread are all you need with it. And if you have to let your other half mark a line across the dish to show their portion, well, that's all part of the compromise.

19 comments:

Kavey said...

Same in our house with my obsession with sharing, and even soup does get passed across the table for a taste!

;)

Suelle said...

Do you wear napkins across your front while you eat? Sharing plates of anything that needs a fork or spoon to eat it would be too messy for us! ;-)

Captain Haddock said...

Terrible shame she has developed an interest in my whisky. I have no refuge.

Foodycat said...

Kavey - I'm too messy for soup!

Suelle - We don't, but the breakfast bar where we eat is very narrow so there isn't a lot of reaching across to do!

hungryandfrozen said...

Oh yes, I'm always eating Tim's food. And the line drawn down the middle of the dish is also a familiar concept. Lots of places in Wellington do shared plates, great for an indecisive person like me :)

Brain said...

The tomato, bacon and feta bake looks delicious!

tori said...

The only thing I can be sure will stay mine in our house is something with tinned fish in it- so the pan bagnat would be perfect for getting my fair share- and then some.

Foodycat said...

Laura - our line isn't usually in the middle of the plate, he's bigger than me!

Brain - it was lovely, really intensely savoury.

Tori - good excuse for eating tinned fish!

tasteofbeirut said...

I can identify with your husband as I am not into sharing food and always cringe when my girlfriend suggests it every time we go out to eat. That being said, pan bagnat is a great sandwich, would love to have one!

mscrankypants said...

I'd almost kill for some tomato-ey feta after looking at your first photo.

Whisky, too? Poor Captain!

Deb in Hawaii said...

I am into sharing and tasting everything even if it means dipping into soup with a fork. ;-) It all looks amazing. Thanks for sharing the pan bagnat with Souper Sundays. ;-0

Foodycat said...

Joumana - at least with a shared sandwich you do get your own, separate portion!

Cranky - he does suffer so!

Deb - thanks again for hosting it!

Barbara said...

Luckily, my entire family is into food sharing! (Guess I brought them up right! :) )
I think our favorite restaurant in the area is one that offers appetizer-size portions with two or three bites each. So we order 5 or 6 and share. Perfect.
BTW: That nicoise sandwich looks fabulous.

Joanne said...

I'm a big fan of sharing food also, so I think you and I would make perfect dining companions! How else am I going to get a good survey of everything a menu has to offer?

Foodycat said...

Barbara - 5 or 6 small plates sounds ideal! So many little tastes!

Joanne - definitely. If I ever make it to New York we can put it to the test.

kat said...

Small plates are big over here too from Scandinavian tapas, to Mexican, to of course Spanish. I never really cook that way at home though...

foodjunkie.eu said...

Well, as a Greek I am more than accustomed to sharing plates, but I have to confess I love the idea of my own plate, as it is always linked to a more "high end" way of eating usually a more expensive restaurant. M. hates it though when I nibble off his plate and always gives me "the look" !

Foodycat said...

Kat - the small plates are a bit of a hassle for the home cook, unless you just go to the deli and buy a lot of bits!

Jo - well, the Greeks do make some of the best little nibbles in the world!

Choclette said...

Ha ha, this made me laugh. I love small dishes of things as I like to taste everything possible so mezze etc is ideal Sharing platters when eating out seem to quite popular these days too. I do have to remain on guard though and like Paul, sometimes have to draw a line down the middle - CT eats twice as fast as me and with my greedy hat on am concerned I won't get "my fair share"!

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