Dining and Diversity

When you dine at home with your family, as a rule everyone has the same meal. If you’re having roast, everyone has roast. If it’s chicken, everyone has chicken. And — in my experience — the fact that everyone is eating the same thing is sort of the point. Someone who doesn’t like what’s on offer is welcome to go make their own meal (or leave the table), but there’s a general expectation that the conformity of dining experience is part of the value of dining as a family.

When you go out to a restaurant, it’s a different story. In restaurants, diversity is the norm: often, I’m sitting there as the server goes around the table taking an order, and the person before me orders exactly what I was going to order, and I think — “shoot, that’s what I was going to have.” In my experience, there is an expectation that everyone will have a different meal, or at least a different combination of drinks, appetizers, and entrees.  And it goes beyond the simple fact that left to their own preferences people want different things; because very often people change their order based on what other people have already ordered, to make sure the table has a certain amount of diversity. Collectively sampling a diverse cross-section of the menu seems to be part of the point of going out.

So at home, conformity is the norm, while in dining out, diversity is tacitly, if not strictly, enforced.

Is this your experience? Why do you think this is the case?