• Ted Reyes

Experience Versus Memory

I often wonder why every time I go out and eat at our favorite restaurants, I order the same dish.

Well, you can argue that the reason a restaurant becomes a favorite is because we have a go-to favorite dish, right? But then why bother looking at the menu at all? Most of the time, I spend a good 10 minutes scanning the menu. I even call out servers if I don't get the menu quick enough. And then I would order the same thing I ordered the previous time.

• Corned Beef and Coleslaw at Katz's Deli

• Mega Ramen with Extra Mega Meats at Totto Ramen

• Soy Garlic Fried Chicken at Olive BBQ Chicken

• Chicken Joy at Jollibee

• Brisket at Mighty Quinn's

• Shack Burger at Shake Shack

• Tofu Soup and Short Ribs BBQ at BCD

• Oxtail Soup at Pam's Real Thai

• No.1 Pho at Thanh Hoai

• Soursop Ice Cream at Torico's

• Paneer Dosa at Sapthagiri

• Lamb Barbacoa Tacos at Taqueria Downtown

• Dan Dan Noodles at Grand Sichuan

• Braised Pork Belly at Num Pang

I think the reason is fear. Fear of missing out on a good thing by trying a new and different thing. I had been burned many times whenever I ventured into unknown territory and often times it left me sleepless, guilty, and miserable. Life was suddenly untenable.

"Why did I order that sad little bowl of curry instead of Tandoori Chicken?"

"Why did I take a chance on that unfortunate patty melt when I could have had my tried-and-tested steak sandwich? Why Oh Why?"

It turns out, I am not alone in this predicament. Apparently, there's been numerous studies that show that humans are predisposed to choose familiar things rather than gamble on things that may result in a negative or even threatening outcomes.

"That chicken teriyaki looks good but It could be fatal. I will just order my favorite sashimi."

Humans prefer safety and comfort rather than danger and risk and that is reasonable, especially when it comes to stuff that we put in our bodies. But then that opens another topic for discussion. This time about experience versus memory.

There's an episode on my favorite podcast called The Hidden Brain that discusses this issue. Simply put it goes like this. Do we eat to get a good experience or do we eat to create memories? You see, eating the same Shack Burger every time is hardly memorable but it will always be a great experience. But trying out the new menu item, regardless of the fact that it may taste like the greatest thing ever cooked or it may turn you into a vegetable will always be memorable.

So based on my current food choices, I am convinced that I've been living in a bubble of safety and comfort. I've been a fucking snowflake terrified of teriyaki chicken. That has to change. I need to create memories and not just settle for safe bets. This time, I will really use the menu and go for the unpopular, risky, and cutting-edge bets. I will tempt fate and risk life and limb for a questionable bowl of something that resembles anything edible.