An aerial view: Four opaline discs with vibrantly-hued bullseyes rise, dip, pirouette as a lattice of hands braids together, untwists itself, and the scene settles on a white backdrop, punctuated like the fourth side of a die.
This dance of the dishes has become a fampi3 tradition when we dine out. Everyone orders their meal, has a first bite or two, and then passes to their neighbor.
It is a blessing to me, and one of my favorite family traditions, as I can never decide which entree to order because there are always too many that sound too amazing. Yes, it sounds delicious; no, you may not order it (because they have already ordered it. That’s why!), but you will never be denied the chance to taste – we’re not monsters!
With six of us — except in the stingiest of establishments — there is always enough to go around and still leave some for the original eater. We learned the hard way that the practice doesn’t go over so well with more than six, or with newbies or picky orderers or finicky eaters — the loss of their laboriously chosen plate is just too heartbreaking. It’s ok, food-hoarders, we still love you
On Tuesday, Sarah and David invited Kelly and me to join them for dinner at Mourayo, a Greek restaurant managed by the brother of a friend of the family. With four ravenously hungry diners, everything looked particularly scrumptious and undecide-able, so Sarah reverted to asking the charmingly-accented waitress for recommendations:
We’re thinking — for appetizers — the butternut squash keftedes… and the keftedakia meatballs. And cheese: the manouri — or the sesame haloumi — or the crabmeat & manouri. Which one do you like best?
The haloumi is more delicious than the manouri, she said. It is more flavorful. But you will like them both.
Ok, but the haloumi is better?
This one is the most delicious.
And it was. Thanks to the pass-and-play method, I can happily say that in addition to the cheese dish (which, if it’s not among my favorite plates at any meal, probably means I left dissatisfied), the high notes for me included the warm pita that saw us through until the appetizers came out; the butternut squash cakes served on a brushstroke of lickably good fig (or a similarly dried fruit) jam-like shmear; and the pork loin medallions with fig, almonds, manouri cheese, and honey (dead and in Heaven. Freakin’ yum).
Because I love fish, I’m sad to report that the monkfish I ordered and Kelly’s branzino were less delicious, particularly the branzino, even though Italy made me a fan of fennel.
In short, a happily spent 50 minutes (did I mention we were hungry?) around the table sharing food, and conversation about the food – which seems to be another fampi3 dining-out custom.