As the clock struck six p. m. on a Wednesday evening, it not only indicated the commencement of fall recess, but also the opportunity to reconcile with longtime high school companions. With last minute phone calls and text messages, I managed to arrange a group dinner with some of my closest friends at a local, well-known restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen. Here, we planned to exchange and share college life experiences and catch up on life. Within American culture, the dinner table renders a hotspot for conversation and rendezvous.
From a couple sharing an appetizer of avocado egg rolls to a group of middle school children sharing a five-cheese pizza, everyone engaged themselves in conversation. With this brief observation, it appeared evident that socializing around plates of food had become a restaurant phenomenon our culture values; without noticing, my group and I fell into that cultural, restaurant paradigm with our discussions of collegiate life at the table. In other words, we fell into the marketed environment big name companies publicize and promote.
Eating a home meal or fast food, nowadays, does not promote the social, recreational food setting that a restaurant provides. The vibe within the food setting advocates for bringing friends and socializing; therefore, consumers can expect to detect behavioral patterns of socialization in these settings. When immersing into the restaurant community, a uniform pattern in the behavior and socialization not only accompanies the consumers, but also the employees of the establishment. Amongst entering the restaurant, waiters and waitresses welcomed us with greetings and hospitality.
Their behavior and responses toward our needs did not surprise me; every established restaurant lives through the ethics of good service, if not, the establishment falls apart. As food culture goes, consumers do not revisit restaurants with servers that treat them poorly. Our server, a follower of the restaurant ethics, treated us with great respect by offering complimentary bread and water and pitching jokes into conversation. However, there was one element that made him stand out from any server | have ever had.
When I told him about my observation paper for my college English course, he was amused and provoked with the idea of me writing about the restaurant he was most passionate about. He offered his extensive assistance from offering to answer any questions to taking photos from the kitchen, although I had only one request for the gentlemen. After ordering our entrees, I asked if I could watch the chef prepare the food, he responded with a delightful, “of course, sir. ” Our table had two conflicting groups that limited variability when it came time to share food, two vegetarians and two meat lovers.
Being on the meat lovers’ side, I had chosen the barbecue chicken pizza along with my friend to share; meanwhile, my vegetarian companions opted for the mushroom pizza. One positive to the two distinguishing orders was the opportunity to see more ingredients being utilized in the kitchen. So as soon as the order was in the system, I rushed toward the kitchen to observe the process. For the most part, I saw what I expected to find in a pizzeria: someone flipping fresh dough, spreading the sauce, and mixing the ingredients for the pizza. As I hoped, the chefs constructed their food from scratch avoiding frozen ingredients and lower quality.
After watching him place the pizza into the coal oven, I began to ponder all contributes that gave birth to this masterpiece. Which prompted me to ask the chef the simple question, “are your ingredients organic? ” I expected a “no” for an answer (based on the prices) but what I got derived far from that. The chef said, ” we make our pizzas from scratch and have our ingredients shipped to us daily to provide this fresh quality. ” He went into more detail explaining how “fresh” and “great” the ingredients were by explaining the extensive shipping process, but avoided the original question.
When I posed the question a second time he did the same, and continued to talk about how “fresh” the ingredients were. I was disappointed with the answer but did not want to start an argument in the kitchen, so I thanked him for his time and proceeded back to my group of friends at the table. When I presented my original question, I wanted a straightforward answer. Instead I got other nonsense to hide the truth. If the restaurant did serve pizzas with organic ingredients, it’s more likely that the chef would have advocated that in his answer, instead of avoiding answering.
Scenarios, like the one I took place in say a lot about the food culture in larger food systems. Big brand food companies hamper the idea of food justice to its consumers, not only through providing scarce details on ingredients, but through other countless ways our society would think appears either ethical or acceptable. New marketing tactics have further prolonged the issue that must come to halt. Our nation must stop being lied to and deserves the food justice it so desperately cannot afford to lose.