DINING TIPS FOR ACTORS
There’s an admittedly very rare occurrence for which actors ought to be prepared and that is dining with someone they wish to impress. A producer, a director, an agent maybe. The sort of person with industrial clout and influence who suddenly says, “Let’s do lunch!”
Sounds great doesn’t it?
The trouble is that restaurants can be tricky places. Did you know that the Royal Family never allow filming at a banquet? They are only too aware at how ungainly shovelling grub into one’s mouth can look.
However, if you follow my tips below, you stand a good chance of retaining your dignity.
Dishes to avoid:
- Soup, especially tomato, as it has the knack of dribbling upon blouses and ties.
- Chicken Kiev, whilst innocent looking, is in fact a “trap-dish”, prone to spurt boiling garlic butter on to the most unsuspecting lap.
- Pasta, It’s awfully difficult to look your best slurping spaghetti unless you’ve a cocktail-shaker’s dexterity with a twirling fork.
- Meat, steaks etc often require too much mastication and anything with bones like chops and chicken can be fiddly.
- Prawns and any shellfish still ensconced in its shell and as for snails ……
- Fish dishes, they never do remove all the tiny bones. Choking is not attractive.
- Curries and any dish in a slurpy sauce.
- Spinach, whilst nicely squishy has a nasty habit of nestling between your teeth.
- Raw foods such as celery and other crunchy salads are unpleasantly noisy.
- Vegetarian dishes with pulses and beans because putt-putting noises as you sashay to the restroom can ruin your image.
Oh, and remember not to overdose on garlic nor onions. (You may not intend to go back to their “place for ahem – coffee – ahem” but so many evenings nowadays ends with the mwah-mway kissy ritual that you don’t want your final impression to be one of halitosis.
Thus your safest bet for a starter is either breaded mushrooms – ignoring the garlic dip – or maybe smoked salmon – but don’t attempt to squeeze the lemon. Bread and butter is usually safe but not bruschetta nor ciabatta with that dipping olive oil.
For a main course, after a great deal of reflection, I have concluded that the safest option is omelette and chips with perhaps a small portion of peas if you’re feeling really brave.
Pudding is a recipe for disaster.
Millefeuille: is impossible to eat elegantly; the cream spurts everywhere.
Chocolate gateaux is nearly as bad as it’s likely to leave brown stains around the corners of the mouth and meringues are just plain vicious.
Cream caramel is just about manageable but not Crème Brûlé with its cement like topping.
Remember ice-cream can dribble and fruit salad is slippery.
As for drinks:
- coffee is better than tea – no worrying about where to put the blasted tea-bag but hot chocolate is just plain wrong.
- Watch out for the gaseous side effects of fizzy drinks.
- Alcohol should only be taken with food to avoid getting too tipsy too quickly.
- Fancy cocktails, with protruding umbrellas and segments of fruit wedged round the rim of the glass, are hazardous.
- Still water is good.
Despite the prospect of a free meal – yes, I’m talking about those occasions where someone else pays – I recommend having snack beforehand so that you aren’t so ravenous that you gobble.
Other things to bear in mind is that you should never use a cocktail stick, your fingernail, a corner of the menu nor your credit card to pick debris from your teeth.
Also make sure your garments are flame-retardant in case there are candles and the table wobbles.
Of course all this advice should be taken with a pinch of salt which reminds me – watch out for the pepper mill as no one every looks their best whilst sneezing.
However, if like me (the contract had already been signed) you go for the rack of ribs, the whole steamed lobster and the baked Alaska with a side serving of chocolate sauce, then I wish you better luck at remaining tidy than I did!