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What's THAT on your plate?!


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I have to say that I find any portion in any restaurant in the States to be entirely too much for one person to eat. When I was in Portland in May, my mom and I ordered a shrimp salad, thinking it would be just a small portion, nice for the two of us to split along with some asparagus and crawfish. This sald was obscene. I wish I had had my camera with me. It was an entire iceberg lettuce and about 2 pounds of shrimp, with about a cup of dressing ladled onto it. All of our meals there were like this. One dinner was split between the two of us, the dogs and then we had lunch for the drive home.

There are restaurants in Vancouver that have massive portions, but they are still about half the size of what I see when I cross the border.

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About a week ago, my boyfriend went through a drive through window to get a soda, and he ordered a "medium." When the girl at the window handed him the drink, it was so huge that it would not fit into the cupholder of my car (I drive a 1991 vehicle). He actually had her take the drink back and give him a "small" which was still more soda than one of the bottles that I grew up drinking, which used to provide 2 to 3 glasses of Coke back then.

I really don't understand how portion sizes have gotten so out of hand. But then again, I do. People want to get their money's worth when they dine out, and that means first being satisfied by the eye appeal of great mounds of food on a plate, and then being satisfied by the stuffed sensation you get when you eat a large mound of french fries as well as a sizable meat main dish.

Restaurants are partly to blame for increasing portion sizes, but this is also a really customer driven trend. I've seen lots and lots of people who are served huge plates of food, only to hear them say, "This isn't as big as it was last time I was here. Can you get me some more?"

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I'm not sure whether this is a cause or an effect, but it seems to be more acceptable in the US to get leftovers boxed to go.

I like the huge serves sometimes, but it can be easy to get into trouble if one dines out frequently at establishments with big portions (like most of the casual dining chains in the US). Every once in a while, it *is* great to eat a gigantic steak, bowl of pasta, or banana split. It gives a strong feeling of sensory and even physical pleasure to eat yourself silly.

In Australia, pastas are commonly available in 'entree' and 'main' size. You can thus either order the entree to have before a meat dish, or choose it alone as a smaller meal. It's a good system which allows you to decide how hungry you are. I like food that comes in sizes -- it would be nice if real food came in small, medium, large, and "super size" too.

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Huge portions are so common nowadays - and so much a part of the identity of bad chain restaurants like IHOP, Denny's, Red Lobster - that I've come to associate a large portion with poor quality, and small or tiny portion with good quality. If they can offer that much food, they're severely cutting corners somewhere.

I guess if you're of the mindset that it ain't better unless it's bigger, you can taste the difference between egg product and fresh eggs anyhow...

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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Lord knows there are plenty of gigantic portions out there, but the one that was most surprising to me is at a gas station/general store/mini-restaurant called the Buss Stop (yes, two ss's) in the tiny town of Garfield in NW Arkansas. I was driving through on a miserable hot summer day, saw the sign for ice cream, and stopped in. I ordered a large soft-serve (you know, thinking Dairy Queen large). I was handed a cone with literally 12 inches of soft serve on it. There was absolutely no way to eat the thing before it melted. I guess it is their "signature dish" if you will, but seemed mostly a really good way to have a joke on the tourists. To be fair, the woman behind the counter did tell me before she made it that it was really big, but I wish she would have given me dimensions! On those occasions when I'm in the area now, I order a small. :laugh:

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

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Huge portions are so common nowadays - and so much a part of the identity of  bad chain restaurants like IHOP, Denny's, Red Lobster - that I've come to associate a large portion with poor quality, and small or tiny portion with good quality. If they can offer that much food, they're severely cutting corners somewhere.

It's the old garbage in, garbage out effect. Even though the large chains have massive purchasing power and that affects prices (like Wal-Mart on the grand scale), there still is a point where you are getting exactly what you pay for. And yes, that includes the best $1.99 buffet in Vegas too! :wub:

"What garlic is to food, insanity is to art." ~ Augustus Saint-Gaudens

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