Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Food for Thought: How to Ruin a Nice Meal - Cell Phones
There is almost nothing that can spoil a great dining experience so completely for me as diners’ abuse of their cell phones.
When Kyle and I patronized our beloved Fogo de Chao Brazilian restaurant on Valentine’s Day two years ago, we were confronted with a superfluity of diners yacking away on their cells. As I’ve said, we adore Fogo de Chao and it would probably require several screaming babies and a tornado passing through the dining room to ruin the experience for us, but I was simply appalled to witness so many couples talking on their cell phones during dinner.
This rude behavior also extends to text messaging. The first time that Kyle and I were enjoying an expensive, romantic dinner and he picked up his cell phone to call anyone (and it wasn’t an emergency) he’d find himself eating alone, and I’d expect the same reaction from him if the case were reversed.
Did my fellow diners really endure the traffic jams and the long wait in the lobby that is inseparable from Valentine’s Day just so they could text all of their friends at the dinner table? They were paying almost $50 per person to enjoy some of the best meat that will ever pass their lips on what is supposed to be the most romantic night of the year, and they’re on the cell phone during dinner. If this is you, who in God’s name are you talking to? How important can the conversation be that it can’t be put off for a few hours, at least until the ride home? Unless your occupation is that of a surgeon or secret service agent I just can’t imagine that your job requires you to converse with co-workers during your dinner date.
Having a nice dinner in a restaurant should be a time to put aside all of these unnecessary distractions, breathe a sigh of relief, and enjoy your meal. If you feel compelled to send a text message after every bite of food you can’t possibly be concentrating on what you’re eating. Will you even remember the succulent flavor of that filet mignon you’ve been anticipating all week if you spend your meal arguing with a family member on your cell phone? In the case of our Valentine’s Day cell phone free-for-all at Fogo de Chao, I swear to God that we observed one couple sitting a few tables away from us who were actually texting each other rather than speaking. Is that what dining out, and for that matter, what relationships have come to?