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It’s Edible, but is it Eatable?

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Mar 29, 2011

On this week's show we take a call from Wayne, who also emailed us some photos to illustrate the reason for his call. He writes:

Listen- there is a problem out there and no one is addressing it. Restaurants are putting gorgeous dishes in front of diners with more concern for drama than for eatability. That's right, Eatability: the compatibility of the food with the eater's interface. I have hands, a mouth, basic skills and some silverware maybe. But the food has to be fundamentally eat-able as presented. Too often the cook's concern seems to be plate-ability. If it looks good on the plate, then diner be damned.

Let me give you some examples:

A burger stacked six inches high with mouthwatering meat, cheese, various toppings and a crusty house-made bun. 

Beautiful? Yes. 
Delicious? Yes. 
Eatable? NO! 
Too tall to get in your mouth unless you have a reptilian jaw that you can dislocate on demand.

A Cobb salad covered with bacon, avocado, blue cheese, boiled eggs and other great stuff, each piled in its own sector on top of a convex heap of lettuce that spans the full diameter of the plate or bowl. 
Beautiful? Yes. 
Delicious? Yes. 
Eatable? NO! 
So much as touch the salad with your fork and you will start a landslide of Cobb directly onto your table or lap. Try to blend the ingredients at all and you could incur up to 40% salad topping casualties. And don't even think of tossing that salad with dressing or you will wear as much as you eat.

A plate of shrimp fra diavolo - prawns and linguini tossed in spicy tomato sauce and finished with parsley and basil.
Beautiful? Yes.
Delicious? Yes.
Eatable? NO! 
Last time I checked, shrimp tails and shell segments do not improve the flavor or texture of a dish like this. Now I have to get in there in the sauce with my hands (you know a knife and fork are hopeless) and tear the tails off each shrimp before I can eat them. Same goes for linguini and clams when the clams are served in the shell. Why do I want clam shells in my food? What am I paying you for? This is fundamentally not eat-able!

I think you get what I'm saying here. I can explain more on a call-in show, or better still you could devote an episode to Eatability - I'll bet you have your own examples if you think about it. But my real hope is that you will take up this mantle and carry forth the movement, considering Eatability in your every analysis, on behalf of Eaters everywhere.

Does Wayne have a point?
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