For some of us that weren’t born with silver spoons, fine dining would probably not be a regular occurrence in our daily routines. Some may even never fully experience fine dining in all its splendour. We may be exposed to aspects or abridged versions. A real fine dining experience, however, is such a rarity these days that when you do get the privilege to be a part of it, you are left in a state of awe and wonder.
My first fine dining experience left a strong impression in my mind that will last me a lifetime and a half. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that I was grossly under-dressed. I knew it was a black-tie event, I knew people will be dressed well, but I didn’t know that my idea of an evening dress would be so inadequate.
I opted for something safe a long black shift dress with a few glitters and sparkly details. It was lovely enough but it wasn’t wow. I wanted to wear my best dress to be honest, but every time I pick up this dress to wear, I always think to myself “What will I wear when I meet the president?” After that thought, I always jejely put it back. This was the first time I wish I didn’t. The dress I opted for was supposed to be a strategic decision. I didn’t want to upstage the celebrant and I wanted something loose around the stomach area so that I’d have room to stuff my face. Both reasons turned out to be invalid.
As we sat down to eat, I knew I was in trouble. There was a plethora of utensils on the table, one could have been forgiven for thinking this was a cutlery convention. As a sharp girl I pretended to be busy sending an urgent email to an important client. This would buy me enough time to see what other people were doing and simply follow suit. Another bad decision that would become characteristic of the night. Some haters were giving me the eye and I’m guessing it’s because no one else was pressing their phone. It almost seemed like I was in an alternate universe. “Pressing phone” surely is the pillar of modern day social interactions, no?
The meal itself had five courses of elegantly plated tiny portions of fine cuisine. We had already pre-selected the meals when we RSVP’d. I enjoyed most of the food but the pressure to be proper made the whole experience stressful. My friend seemed to be thriving in this posh environment I could feel jealously welling up on my insides. It’s such a shame we weren’t sat next to each other. From the time we first sat down to eat till the time dessert was served, a whole 3 hours had passed! Even though there were several courses and I liked most of the food, I found that I was still hungry afterwards. This was partly my fault because I had “saved my stomach all day” for this event. Another bad decision.
As soon as we got into the car after the evening was over, my friend burst into laughter. She kept talking about how sure she was of never getting another invite to a fine dining event “after making such a fool of herself”. For a minute I was trying to figure out if we were at the same event. She was so elegant and poised. I said to her “but I saw you selecting the dessert fork to eat your cheese cake” and her response was “Which fork was that again?”. To say the least, I was in shock! I spent the whole night copying her (and a few other people to be honest) because she looked like she knew what she was doing. I even chuckled to myself when an elderly man selected a spoon to have his mousse. In hind sight that was the sensible choice. You can’t very well eat a mousse with a fork! It would seem that the pressure of the evening had let sense depart from me. My friend simply replied “All na packaging”.
From that moment in the car park I learnt a valuable lesson. Confidence is key to thriving in uncomfortable situations.
Why someone would opt to have a fine dining event for their 40th instead of the normal Owambe is still a mystery to me. And on that note, I take back all the negative things I have said about Owanbe parties. Owambes rock abeg. There are no expectations of good manners and refinement. If you have “connections” you can also have five full course meals while pressing your phone within the space of 30 minutes.
I would certainly love to do fine dining again nonetheless. Next time I’ll read up a bit on the different types of cutlery and familiarize myself with acceptable etiquette.
I have come to the conclusion that fine dining is not meant for people that are hungry and lack patience. If you however do not fall into any of the above category , go for it. It’s certainly an experience worth having if not for anything, you’ll have very interesting stories to tell when you’re done.
I’ve already began “studying” for my next fine dining experience. So if you’re hosting one and have an extra slot holla at your girl (**wink**) and because I’m such a nice person, here is a link to a valuable resource that I intend to master before the D-day; you’re welcome.
Photo Credit: Tonny Wu | Dreamstime