Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Not to Order Food

Ordering food at a restaurant or café always gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have strict requirements, you see. No, they're not vegetarian or heath related requirements. I always like to leave the place feeling “exactly full”. That means a state where even a single morsel after that would provide a negative utility value. Also, I don’t like food being left behind on the plate when I’m done. So every time I visit a restaurant, I need to pick a set of dishes, comprising of the various courses, so that they all total up, in volume, to exactly the amount of space in my stomach. That is, apparently, something known as an NP-Complete problem. It’s not MY fault I can’t always solve it.

To add to my woes, there are other people sitting at the table to be considered. They’re going to eat some of my food, and surely, I’ll dig into some of theirs. The variables just begin to pile up. And it's really hard to do all these calculations because, let's not forget, the odds are that I'm really hungry!

Then there are the unknowns -- unless it’s a place I eat at often, I can’t really be sure exactly how large the portions are going to be. So I don't even have all the information required to tackle the problem. The best I can so is take calculated guesses regarding the various amounts and hope that my errors turn out to be cancellatory rather than cumulative. Often, I'll get it all wrong.

Whenever we go out to eat, most of the group will be scanning the menu to see what sounds delicious. I'm desperately trying to do triple integration in my mind. My thoughts might go something like this. "Hmmm. I think I'll start with a bowl of tomato soup and then have some of the chicken tikka. But then, I'll need three rotis and if I call for the rice after that, well, let's see. The square root of this is so much, and so blah blah blah [...] blah and then after factoring in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Hofstadter's Law, we get so and so. Damn! Overshot it! Okay, time to backtrack and try another alternative." Soon my circuits will overheat and there'll be sparks coming out of me. After that happens a couple of times, restaurants tend not to allow you to go back there any more.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's okay to have weird idiosyncrasies, but it's probably a good thing to ensure that they don't get the better of you. Also, please ask me out to dinner sometime. No one ever does any more!


Mulling Over My Thoughts said...

it gets even more complicated when you are out dining with women. in that case you have to factor in how much they might not eat.
and they have the incorrigible habit of ordering the most expensive dish on the menu that generally serves three times their potential apetite.
(things get worse when you are dining out in the city of bombay where the concept of a reasonbaly priced restaurant is completely unheard of!)
and considering your previous post coupled with this one, i'd have loved to ask you out for dinner but then both of us would be stuck making complex calculations ordering food and im sure after being booted out of the restaurant, the rest would be pretty much downhill from there on!

Arnold said...

Mulling Over My Thoughts - Indeed so... Unspeakable horrors would abound if we were both to try and order a meal! And yea, what's with females and their ordering system anyway? :|

Firefoxcub said...

After little thought and even less calculation, I present to you an easy way to solve your problem. Please to apply the 'Parcel Principle' also known, in the west as the 'To go Theorem' whereby excess quantities of food are transferred to a mobile carrier unit for your explicit enjoyment at a later time.
Application of this Principle also results in annulment of the PPP (Post-drunk Pre-hangover Pigging out Problem.)

Anonymous said...


Damn funny post and even funnier are the comments.. these are my favs

"Soon my circuits will overheat and there'll be sparks coming out of me. After that happens a couple of times, restaurants tend not to allow you to go back there any more.

"Parcel Principle" and "To go theorem"

Arnold said...

firefoxcub - Lol :)

Sanjukta - Thanks!