No, I’m not hiring a prostitute to roleplay as Jesus (there’s a disturbing thought). No, this was my reaction, after I walked into a chip shop 10 minutes ago, considered the pre-fried items relaxing in the “magic-warm-box” section (including some battered fish and a variety of non-battered sausages), and went “I’ll have the fish and chips”.
Immediately, they start on the upsell. “Large fish and chips, sir?”
I clarify that I “only want the small chips” (which is probably actually referred to as “standard” or “medium” on their menu), he reaches for suitable tongs, and other serving implements, I asked “how much is that?” and he replied “six pounds..” and I think there were some pence following that. I kinda zoned out. More than £6 for fish and chips? I haven’t bought any in a while, but is that what they cost these days? I’m only paid around £6 an hour in my job at the moment, and to spend an hour’s salary on something that has been sat keeping warm in a box for a while, and some potatoes in oil seems a bit much to me. I’m well aware I’m only buying chips at 9.15pm because I’ve managed my time badly and I don’t have any beans for the “beans on toast” emergency dinner, but still – £6?
I asked again “Jesus! How much?!”
He clarifies £6, and before he can add the pence, I say “I’ll have the sausage and chips instead”.
£2.55. Quite an expensive fish, evidently. I pay, take my food and leave.
For starters is that actually what fish and chips costs these days? Because I consider fish and chips to be just about the cheapest meal you can buy. It’s also getting dangerously close to being the same price I might pay to get something I would deem “nicer” for an evening meal, like an Indian takeaway. Nobody has laboured over a sauce, or seasoned with just the right spices. It’s fish and chips. It’s very basic. If I owned a deep fat fryer, I reckon even I could cook it myself. (I’ve just checked, and there’s a reasonable (not the best, not the worst, but OK) local Indian takeaway doing curry and rice for under £7.)
I’ve also got an issue with the upselling. Large fish and chips? “LARGE”? Do you know how big a standard fish and chips is? Well do you? After clarifying the “small” chips several times (as I was still convinced I was going to end up with a large anyway), this is what I got and took home.
Just look at that. That’s more chips than will actually fit comfortably on my plate (and I’d eaten maybe 10 of them by the time I took this), and that’s the “small” portion. What is it about chip shops that makes them do this? Do the customers demand it? Would the public be disappointed to order a small portion and discover it actually…small?
That’s a regular-sized 10″ plate that someone might eat an evening meal from, struggling to cope with the volume of chips that a small portion consists of. Given that, who orders a large? Presumably, the same person who sees “freshly boiled new potatoes” on a restaurant menu, and asks them to “forget the rest of the meal – just bring the whole sack”.
If you were recreating this meal at home, you wouldn’t cook that much food per person, surely?
I’m disappointed to tell you that I managed barely half of that before I was both comfortably full, and bored of eating fried potato. The rest will go to compost, as I have nobody else to share it with tonight. And why should I need a person to share a “small” portion with?
My inability to gorge myself silly
The chip shop is sadly not the only place I have this problem. One of my issues eating with people in restaurants is that in any group of friends, someone wants a starter. And then they convince others to have one, and before you know it – everyone is having one. I decline, because I know from far too much experience I probably won’t be able to finish my main course if I do. So the choice then is either to have an orange juice instead (so then you look odd drinking while everyone else is eating), or have nothing, at which point someone (sometimes multiple people) will insist you try theirs, and thus you’re forced into having one anyway.
Yes, you can fight it, refuse offers, and sit not knowing where to look while they eat, and occasionally motion to each other some non-verbal questioning of if they’re enjoying what they’re eating. Or, you can be completely antisocial, whip out your phone and see what everyone on Twitter is up to. That’s fine, right? You’re not really ignoring anyone – they’re eating anyway. People who eat AND talk just hold everyone else up. By checking what the rest of the world is up to, you’re doing everyone a favour, by discouraging “the talker” from trying to eat and talk, and thus they don’t eat so slowly that they hold everyone else up and make the simple act of eating dinner last all night.
You’d think the place this wouldn’t be an issue would be in an all-you-can-eat, wouldn’t you? Everyone just eats however much they like, and thats the end of it. Well no. If it’s the place that allows multiple visits to the food area, you end up sitting on your own as people join (and rejoin) queues over and over.
If it’s a standard restaurant, but a generous person paying, it’s all “Ben have some more of this” and “oh but you must have pudding. I’m paying”, as if someone else financially assisting you is your only reason for eating. As if that changes anything whatsoever. Like I’m going to say “well I’m not really hungry, but if YOU’RE paying I’ll stuff my face til I throw up”. Thankfully for my own stress levels, and the sanity of everyone else, I don’t get invited to dinner very often. I really can’t think why.