An Appetizer is only smaller when compared to the Entrée.
There are a lot of reasons people need to feel good these days. It seems that science has determined that everything is on a crash course to either save us, kill us, or vaguely switch between the two. Food and the size of our portions are not immune to such scrutiny. We all eat too much of everything, everyday, at every meal, on every plate. It’s true. There is no way our bodies could evolve fast enough to handle the deluge of calories that your average American can consume on even the lightest of eating days. It was only three or four generations ago that refrigeration didn’t exist, and the restaurant wasn’t even invented yet. Coupled with the sun up to sun down workday of manual labor, aka, exercise that no Microsoft gym/spa can recreate. So that Appetizer, is it a healthy choice, maybe, is it a call for variety, maybe?
Working in a small plates restaurant I’m confronted with the possibility that someone, or group of people order a plethora of dishes based on their desire to have a variety of taste experiences at a single restaurant seating. This is not always the case, a lot; ok the majority of customers are ordering something green or lighter, then something meaty or heavier. Why? The plates are small, and if they count calories and compare to their last 3 course restaurant meal they have plenty of room for another plate. We don’t offer something larger, were a customer can convince themselves, “at least I didn’t splurge and get that entrée.”
There are plenty of examples where people are persuaded to make discussions based on comparisons, I will give two. One food studies showed that people who could see their basket of chicken wing bones fill up where likely to eat far less than peoples whose basket of bones was empties periodically. Second, upon reading a marketing suggestion that if giving away something from a list of items, create a prize that would be considered the ‘worst’ prize, but don’t give that to anyone this way everyone, “at least I didn’t get the worst prize”
I think these examples apply to this discussion because the appetizer of which people feel so comfortable with is only smaller when compared to an entrée, just like the pile of bones. Likewise, the entrée is the most calorie rich, gluttonous, bank busting item on the menu, and a few appetizers reaffirm the customers, “at least I didn’t splurge on that gut busting entrée.”
Why is the appetizer our favorite course, because it makes us feel good about ourselves, and we really need that?