The Inherent Insanity Of 3-Piece Appetizers

Cease this cruelty.

Image via The Infatuation’s Instagram Stories

I feel like life is awkward enough without three-piece appetizers. That horrifying moment when a plate is plunked in front of two or four people and everyone at the table is simultaneously thinking “that looks so good” and “goddammit.” I believe it is time to retire the three-piece appetizer, and further I think it should have never existed. It is a cruel joke played on diners enjoying all walks of cuisine. I don’t know what evil mind gave birth to it, but I shall kill it dead.

Who dines in threes? Who?? Give me their names. And yet, odd-numbered small plates are alive and well in food today. Small plates in general are actually dominating the dining scene of the coast I currently live on. I truly can’t remember the last time I ordered an entree for myself when I wasn’t visiting family. We dine in pairs, or we dine in evenly numbered groups, but the rarity with which we dine in threes does not match the prevalence of the three-piece appetizer and I think it’s time we talk about it.

How can this situation be remedied? There’s the preparatory option, to confirm the caloric dosages before the item arrives at the table, assuring each person is accounted for with deliciousness. But what happens if we simply trust that this establishment isn’t sinister? What if a three-piece appetizer appears before us unexpectedly? If we’re in pairs, do we fake-reject the third piece, insisting the other diner enjoy it? Or do we employ that horror of horrors which is splitting the odd numbered item after which we still have to be polite about who gets the inevitably bigger morsel. Don’t even get me started on splitting these things among four people. That dish should have been properly butchered in the kitchen, not by a group of diners wielding butter knives!

“Can you add one more” is financial roulette, never knowing if they’ll throw one in out of the goodness of their hearts or charge you double for one additional squash blossom. It’s chaos. What they’re actually after of course is the table ordering a second serving, but I am wise to their antics. I would rather watch my dining companion enjoy an entire shrimp from the cocktail chalice rather than fall for their tricks.

The three-piece appetizer is folly. It is nonsensical. It affects the balance of our very existence and I for one will stand for it no longer. And perhaps the culinary world doesn’t care about my concerns. Perhaps they’ll simply go on about their day, writing their menus, ordering their supplies, never caring that they’re creating awkward experiences for the very patrons they exist to delight. But if even one, just one restaurant proprietor sees this and allows it to impact the decisions she makes regarding small plate portioning moving forward, I like those odds.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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