I was having dinner the other day and found it very hard to decide what to order. It seems that choosing what to eat from a menu is something that takes a lot of consideration. Things that tick along in the back of your mind maybe without you even realising. But what is the deciding factor, the one thing above all others that will make you choose one thing over another?
What if when you're out you decide this is the time you will try something new; salsify, heart or salted chocolate for example. It's a strategy rife with risk. It can go one of two ways; revelation or regret. The first time I went out for a really nice meal I had a selection of vegetables, each vegetable prepared in a different way. At the time I was a carrots, parsnips and peas only girl. That particular dish and that meal changed my life; a world of vegetables was opened up to me.
However, what if you try something new and it's awful? Trying something for the first time and it being badly prepared or if you personally don't like it can really ruin an ingredient for life. Galangal is the one thing I cannot bear because I had far too much at once. I can't even look at it now.
If you're looking at a classic menu, do you choose something familiar or foreign? Sausage and Mash, Lasagne or Fish and Chips are familiar to most but would you choose it because you recognise it or because you feel like it won't let you down? If it does let you down, you might feel so deflated and disappointed but if it's the best one you've ever had the benchmark has been set.
Seasonality and locality can be an important influence when deciding what to eat. Local sausages or asparagus when it's in season can be magnificent and what a great chance to try it. Equally, choosing something you would never buy or prepare at home is a great excuse. If you've never fancied battling with a celeriac or preparing a beef wellington, here's your chance.
Perhaps it just come down to price. Is it ridiculous to spend £12.50 on a risotto you know you could make just as well yourself? Is it a good thing to be able to try something expensive that you'd never normally buy for yourself; caviar or foie gras maybe. I think it is always worth giving some consideration to price; if the ingredients themselves aren't expensive but the dish is pricey, maybe the execution of it is fantastic.
What is the most important thing to you when choosing what to spend your money on?