When you go out to eat, it is comforting to order the same thing over and over again. It even saves time. Why consult the menu when you can say “give me the usual”? Here are six reasons why.
1- You Don’t Know If You Like It Until You Try It
Yes, that is your mom talking. And she was right. Everything we like to eat is something that we tried at one point or another for the first time. And that worked, right? You tried something new and you liked it. Why should you stop now?
2 – No Foods are “Normal” so No Foods are Weird
Imagine you took an animal and squeezed some watery mucus out of it into a bucket. Then you left the bucket to get moldy while you killed the animal, chopped its buttocks into tiny bits, and then glued them back together in their own fat, and cooked it. While it was cooking, you threw on the dried-up curds in the bucket so they would melt. Congratulations! You have a cheeseburger.
When you put things that way, it doesn’t seem so strange to eat an octopus. Actually, it’s pretty straightforward: this is an octopus, we killed it, chopped it up, and boiled it. Here’s some dipping sauce.
3 – People Worry too Much About Food
Humanity obviously spent a long time—perhaps thousands of years—just figuring out what we could and could not eat. Forget about spy movies: this is knowledge that people died for! And then every culture on earth tried to figure out how to eat well. A few of them—perhaps a dozen—had the time and resources and obsessiveness to turn this into a major project. The cuisine of Italy or Lebanon or India or China is based on a hundred or more generations of cooks spending their whole lifetimes experimenting with recipes and perfecting them.
The upshot of these two massive projects is that when you go to a restaurant in 2017, you (1) are not going to die, and (2) are the beneficiary of an immense amount of knowledge. So why not cash in on that?
4 – Varying your Diet is Good for your Health
One mainstay of speculative nutritional writing is asking how long people can survive by eating just one thing. This is usually framed in terms of emergency survival situations, but the fact is that many people voluntarily restrict their diet to only a handful of foods. In contrast, there is plenty of evidence that a varied diet boosts the immune system, reduces the risk of diabetes, and so forth. If you are a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer, that means you should move camp occasionally. If you live in the suburbs in 2017, that means, yes, that you should change it up now and then at the restaurant.
5 – Saying Yes to New Foods Means Saying Yes to Other Things
Maybe it begins with trying the new item on the menu at your favorite place. But then there’s going to a new restaurant. Or a new kind of restaurant. And then there is a whole wonderland beyond that: the sugar-on-snow parties in frozen New England, the deep-fried-everything madness of Midwestern fairgrounds, the pit barbecues of the southwest. Food doesn’t exist inside a cubicle, or at least it doesn’t have to. Food is part of our culture, part of our geography, part of our history, and most definitely it is part of our social life. When you start saying yes to new foods, you find a lot of doors opening up that you may not have expected.
6 – What if You Haven’t Found your Favorite Food yet?
If you ask people what their favorite food is, most people will name some comfort food from their childhood. But then (try this out) ask people if there are any foods that they like better than their “favorite” food, according to Arte Café. A lot of people will say yes. So in fact they have a “real” favorite food, which they probably discovered recently, and their childhood favorite. So now, a philosophical question: what if you haven’t discovered your real favorite food yet?