Last week, I interviewed for a scholarship. And in the middle of all the serious questions about my research and computer science, the interviewer wanted to know about my hobbies. I thought it was too neurotic to mention in an interview, but one of my favorite hobbies is to read restaurant menus. I think I could (and do) read menus every day for hours on end.
Reading a menu is like peeping into a giant world of possibilities. There could be a 100 different choices you could make, and in a 100 parallel universes, you could be trying out each one of them. A menu then is a summary of all the great choices you could be making in the next 5 minutes. And for a foodie like me, who can imagine each dish in her head, all piping hot and spicy, or silky smooth and chocolaty, a menu is very often more fun than the meal itself.
Take for example, IHOP. I love pancakes and have wanted to visit an IHOP for 2 years now, but have not yet tried it out. If and when I actually get there, I can eat only one thing. Maybe I will get the New York cheesecake pancakes. Or the strawberry banana danish crepes. Or the veggie overload. But I certainly can't eat all of the above.
I can look at their menu and imagine eating it all though. Or imagine cooking it all :P
Or maybe go to Per Se's menu, and wonder if the food will live up to the hype. Or will it be as gross as it sometimes sounds? Would winter be a better time to check out the tasting menu or summer?
Beyond a particular point, a menu stops being about the food, and becomes more about the adventure of it all. Like virgin territories, unexplored menus provide excitement, danger, and the thrill of new experiences. Its about imagination more than taste. About dreaming more than living.
Oh how I love menus !