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Watching an adjacent diner's meal in disbelief and envy

  • j

This isn't meant to be a judgmental post, everyone likes and eats things their own way. But have you ever noticed a nearby table order the same dish and they leave what you consider the best parts? Then you just pine and wish you could have all they set aside?

What triggered this post for me was a recent visit to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. One of our favorite dishes there is the garlic fried prawns. They take these big prawns peel them partially away from the shells so it's still attached at the tail. Battered lightly and then fried along with bits of garlic. The frying process fans out the prawn in this beautiful V shape. It's absolutely decadent. The prawn meat is so juicy and succulent. The shell crisp and light, it's like eating a prawn flavored cracker. No greasiness or heaviness to anything. I've been known to kill an entire plate by myself.

This past visit as my friend and I were savoring each piece slowly, I noticed the next table over a single diner had also ordered the same dish. My happy feelings of empathy towards being a glutton and having the dish to myself quickly turned to horror and envy when I saw how he was eating the dish. He was separating the meat from all the shell, discarding them into a pile and just eating the meat.

I swear I felt physical pain seeing all that delicious shell piled up untouched and being whisked away to the trash by the waiter. Meanwhile, my friend and I were being extremely polite with each other dividing the single plate and eating up every last bit of shell and garlic. I so wished there was a way we could have all the shell the other diner didn't want. I gladly would have asked for a clean plate and silverware and separated out all the meat for him, haha!

Again, this isn't a judgment on a right or wrong way of eating something. More of an envy of not being able to eat something I consider delectable and something that was going to be thrown away anyway. Anyone have similar stories?

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  1. I have seen people order giant lobsters to eat just the claws (not even the knuckles, just the large portion of the claws). I have seen people order filet mignon just to eat the outside crust, leaving the rest of the meat aside. Or diligently pick off the fat from pata negra because otherwise it's too fat.

    I just feel sad but I also have to remind myself that it's their meal.

    1. My first job in the restaurant business was as a dishwasher in a fine dining establishment and I at first was dismayed by all the great and delicious food people didn't eat while I struggled to feed myself at all while I was learning the craft. Sometimes the employee meal was my food for the day. At some point it became a live and let live thing and I stopped really caring what other people did. Now, I can just make those dishes myself, thankfully.

      6 Replies
      1. re: LorenM

        Oh, as I stated, this wasn't meant as a judgment on a right or wrong way of eating something. Just more of seeing something I consider very tasty being dumped and wishing there was a way I could have had what they didn't want. Such as they only get served the meat and I get the rest of the shells.

        1. re: Jase

          I totally get you, Jase! I hate to see wonderful things get wasted. I would have felt the same way. In fact, I probably leaned over and said "aren't you going to eat those?!?!?" At which point, my husband would yell at me to keep my mouth shut!

          1. re: Jase

            I understand and I certainly wasn't trying to say you were being judgmental. I was annoyed at first with the good food people threw away. I just had to become immune to it for my own sanity's sake. Believe me, I even thought about consuming an uneaten mussel or crawfish garnish from a plate, though I never actually did.

            1. re: LorenM

              Remember in 'Million Dollar Baby' where Hillary's character works in the restaurant and asks for the leftover steak for her "dog"? Heck, I would invent a dog too.

              1. re: LorenM

                I know people who have. They worked in a fancy restaurant and some stuff would come back untouched.

                1. re: wekick

                  It was strictly verboden in my restaurant as anyone who got caught would receive endless and merciless abuse from everyone else in the kitchen! I was petrified of this at 18 years old. Plus I had the hots for a couple of the bus girls and wouldn't have wanted such a thing to be spread around, if you know what I mean.

          2. First, let me say I can't believe how people have misconstrued your post. Unbelievable! lol

            Second, I know exactly what you mean. Perhaps the diner did not know the shells were edible? I probably would have struggled with myself whether to tell him or not; and if I had a few drinks in me I probably would have. :)

            4 Replies
            1. re: ttoommyy

              In most preparations shrimp shells are not particularly good eating. There may be some good sauce that's worth sucking off, but shell itself is as appealing as finger nail clippings. This preparation may indeed be different.

              1. re: paulj

                I guess being Asian, I'm used to shrimp and prawn shells being prepared so they're edible. Usually it's this type of preparation where the shell is fried so it's thin and crackery. You get the great seafood taste but there's no chewiness or rubberyness to it. Chinese salt and pepper shrimp is fried with shells on and one way of eating it is to just take a bite without peeling. If you're into sushi, sweet shrimp heads are usually fried and served on the side while you eat the body raw.

                I don't expect everyone to be familiar with all the variations and again, wasn't judging the guy. Although upon further observation, he was a wine rep who made a presentation after the meal. So he was probably familiar with it and just preferred not to eat it.

                For those of you not familiar with Lotus of Siam, it's a nationally acclaimed Thai restaurant offering traditional dishes that are hard to find. They also have an outstanding wine list. I'm not a knowledgeable wine drinker but I gather that the manager does a great job in curating a wine list that matches very well with the Thai spices. Something that is very difficult I'm lead to believe. Also they carry some wines that are hard to find and supposedly a good bargain.

                Read any of Dave Feldman's posts in the Las Vegas board and you'll get a great idea of what they have. Anyone interested in Thai and if in Vegas should definitely visit the place. It's a mandatory stop for me in every trip, often 2 or 3 times in one trip.

                1. re: paulj

                  Oh, I can eat some shrimp shells.
                  I like em fried, but I had a few off the grill last week and they were good too.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I agree. I undoubtedly have an American midwesterner's approach to international cuisine, as I was born as raised here in the midwest, but I don't really care for shells on my shrimp, nor on any other food, either. They may be edible, but if you're not familiar with the full breadth of a particular cuisine or of how a food was intended to be eaten, you'll probably not think to eat the shell unless someone mentions that they're edible first. No one I know would eat the shells.

                2. I understand what you are describing, though I have honestly never thought of prawn shells as something to be so enjoyed. I am going to file that away in the CH part of my brain for future reference.

                  I get a little pained sometimes when I see diners ordering lots of expensive, wonderful food and then just picking at it. I hate the wasteful aspect , especially with so many people in our country (never mind the world) who go hungry every day. I would love to go into a very nice restaurant and order whatever I want without restraint, but my sensibilities and my budget won't allow. So when I see people who are taking the tasting menu approach to normal sized apps, entrees, etc., I cringe a litle, especially when it is something I particularly love.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jlhinwa

                    Fried shrimp tails, like fried fish fins and tails, are crunchy good like potato chips, or more appropriate, kroepoek.

                    To that you can add bone marrow, which is now returning to favor, and probably potato skins, which most people discard.

                    1. re: jlhinwa

                      Yeah, boiled and steamed shells would hold absolutely no appeal to me except for maybe sucking the boiling spices off them. But in this dish where they are pulled away from the body and only joined at the tail, the batter and frying process makes it very delicate and crisp. The prawn flavor mingling with the fried garlic tastes heavenly to me.

                      If you happen to see it, I'd encourage you to try similar Asian fried techniques such as I described in the post above and maybe you'd like it.

                    2. Yep I feel your pain. Since it's not always polite in certain restaurants and company, I have to regretfully leave chicken cartilage on my plate if I'm not successful with my fork and knife. Eating fried chicken at home is therefore a glorious experience. I think the most recent twinge for disbelief and envy came from seeing someone order osso buco and refuse to eat the marrow.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: S_K

                        Cartilage, connective tissue, marrow, chicken feet, fish eyeballs . S_K, you must be my brother from another mother (or sister from another mister).

                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                          *double checks parts* sister from another mister!

                          1. re: S_K

                            LOL. High five for the nasty bits, sis! :P

                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                              sorry to party crash, but how does anyone walk away from marrow? if cholesterol is an issue maybe, but then you're prob. already on statins.

                              1. re: hill food

                                Why?, I thought bone marrow was good for cholesterol.

                                1. re: basildip

                                  if you're looking to raise that bar then count me in!

                                2. re: hill food

                                  I would. Walk away from it. That's where leukemia comes from, but that's not my real issue. I just hate the idea. Sorry. More for you.

                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                    I had never heard that about leukemia, can you provide a source link? (I'm not being snarky, a childhood friend died of that 'bout 25 yrs. ago and we sort of assumed it was due to the high-tension power lines running through his neighborhood. and another one this past Spring, but I doubt either was a factor in that case (and I do assume there are many factors that can cause it)

                                    honestly it strikes me odd that a disease that attacks bone marrow, could be exasperated by eating it. but then mad-cow was spread by consuming spinal cord and brain material of cattle...

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Or ?...promoted...? ?...caused...?

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        huiray, yes it would appear Mr. Vocabulary has escaped me once again.

                                      2. re: hill food

                                        I believe EWSflash was just pointing out (in a kind of non-sequitor) that leukemia is a disease of the bone marrow. Since leukemia is basically a type of cancer, it makes no sense that eating bone marrow would put a person at any greater risk of leukemia than would eating anything else with similar nutrients/fat/etc. That would be like claiming that eating liver causes liver cancer - totally without basis.

                                        Course, perhaps EWSflash has seen some revolutionary study I haven't.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          I figured s/he meant didn't like the idea of eating what might be cancerous or pre-cancerous cells of a cow with leukemia

                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                            Makes sense, though even regular skeletal muscle can get a soft tissue sarcoma - any time you eat meat, you're eating something that could have theoretically grown cancer had it been left to its own devices.

                                            Hope I'm not ruining too many meals for people.

                          2. Oh, like when you see people eating ribs and they leave meat and on the bone? And I guess anytime people leave meat on the bone. I'll sometimes leave some meat on the bones on purpose to doggy bag them. But not throw them away.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: viperlush

                              Worse if they leave the connective tissue on the bones! :) I like to strip my bones clean. Come to think of it, if my dog was at the table, he'd love to consume the bones, especially the spongy parts inside and in the knuckles.

                              While I'm at it, why don't I complain about the amount of corn that people leave on a cob. If I pluck the kernels off the cob, rather the bite through them, I can leave a cob bare enough to make into a pipe!

                              Honestly, while I have noticed those differences, it is none of my business to complain about what other people leave on their plate. These days I'm even less inclined to finish off my wife's plate!

                              1. re: paulj

                                It's tangential to this thread, but one of my great all-time pet peeves is when people are sharing communal ribs (like at a barbecue), and someone leaves half the meat on their bones as they go and get seconds and thirds for themselves. In my mind, it's selfish, thoughtless, and disrespectful both to the cook and the pig. My brother used to do that - drove me nuts.

                                It bothers me so much that I find myself at non-communal-eating situations (like a restaurant), eyeing up someone who ordered their own plate of ribs but left lots of meat on the bones, and thinking to myself, "probably one of those bastards." Sort of like seeing cars with the bumper on the front passenger side messed up after my car has been hit while parked 3 or 4 times (nary a note left).

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Yes, that would disturb me too.

                                  In this same vein, I get angry at folks who leave piles of food on their plates at "all you can eat" buffets - and repeatedly at that - while they go get more food on fresh plates, most of which also gets left on that plate.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    My Dad taught us not to do this by smacking us down (not physically!) if we even looked like we were going to waste meat on ribs, chops, chicken legs. Fruit as well - he's an 'eat the apple core, suck the flesh of a peach stone' type of guy.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      That reminds me of a time I was at a Chinese wedding banquet and the first course was the assorted appetizer plate which had crisp pork skin, various kinds of cold meats and other items. As the only veteran attendee of such banquets at our table, I was tasked with explaining each item. I pointed out the crispy pork skin and one of roast pork as two of the more popular items at every banquet.

                                      The guy next to me rudely scooped up half of the pork skin before anyone else took some. He then proceeded to take one bite, spit it out in disgust and declared how he thought it was horrible and didn't understand how anyone else would like it. The rest of us had to split what little was left.

                                      I got to say,in that situation, I was completely judgmental. It was rude for him to take so much of a prized item and waste it when he didn't even know what it tasted like. I guess I did a great job extolling the tastyness of that item. LOL!

                                      I spent the rest of the banquet being very proactive in making sure he understood what was in each course and telling him to only take one bite to try for anything that looked unfamiliar.

                                      I was especially vigilant when the sea scallop course arrived. That dish is designed so each person at the table only got one big piece. As soon as it hit the table, I immediately stopped all conversation and announced that each person gets one piece since each piece is big and expensive.

                                      In that situation, I figured it was better for me to be very proactive and not worry too much about hurting the guy's feelings since he was kind of clueless. I wanted the rest of the people to try and enjoy the food.

                                      1. re: Jase

                                        "I got to say,in that situation, I was completely judgmental."
                                        LoL - I don't think you should feel bad for being judgmental. Had I been in your shoes... and had I already drank a glass of celebratory wine or five before the meal as I have sometimes done at weddings... there potentially could have been a brawl. Or at least I would have told him off later in the night.

                                        1. re: Jase

                                          If I had been one of the other guests I might have said something indirect but very pointed and loud before I could stop myself about the crudity and wastage some people demonstrate...

                                          1. re: Jase

                                            heh - reminds me of that Mary Tyler Moore "Veal Prince Orloff" episode. had to pull a guest aside and explain he'd served himself half the meal meant for 6.

                                            1. re: Jase

                                              That reminds me of a thread we had on here a while back about a dinner guest who had scooped up a big portion of caviar or something for their young child at a party, who in turn spat it out.

                                              Which in turn reminded me of Tom Hanks in one of his movies with Meg Ryan in which he takes a big scoop of the caviar surrounding some dish, and Meg goes off on him for eating all the garnish. I think he then in turn scooped the remainder of what was left around the dish to spite her.

                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                That was "You've Got Mail" with TH & MR. And there was "Big" where TH (with a child's mentality) tasted caviar and then spit it out.

                                              2. re: Jase

                                                Somebody should have smacked him upside the head and then 'gently' explained the way things hapen with that kind of layout. And coached him with a gentle pinch on his ear as to the rest of the banquet. the guy was a turd, even if he wasn't drunk.

                                              3. re: cowboyardee

                                                Aaarrghh! The kids do that with ribs, wings, and drumsticks and I can't help myself-- I gotta steal the bones and clean them off. It's like they just take one bite and grab another one. And pork chops--I swear they only eat about half. Which is fine with me, as I think the parts nearest the bone are the best and sweetest.

                                          2. When in the islands, the table next to us ordered the Medium rare Ahi..they cut and ate only the half inch cooked Ahi and left the rare beautiful thing of beauty in all it's glory sitting on the plate...huge baseball chunk staring at me..
                                            I had a couple of mai tai's in me and asked if they weren't going to eat, I would..
                                            They gave it to me and I wolfed it down like a good island girl..
                                            ; )

                                            3 Replies
                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                  Awesome! I like how you didn't judge them, you just knew what you wanted and asked for it.

                                                2. Kinda how I feel about crawfish heads. :)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                    There's a dish my mother makes, a dry stir fry. The heads must be eaten, they are the best part, it's creamy inside and crunchy outside; I almost cried once when people came over and threw out the heads.

                                                  2. Baked potato skins. As soon as I get the plate, I turn the potato upside down and push out the mealy white innards, put butter all over the skin and cut that up and maybe dip my fork in the sour cream and chives with some bites of skin. I send back those innards and stare longingly at all those skins being sent back...

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: Cathy

                                                      Jack Sprat could eat no fat
                                                      His wife could eat no lean
                                                      And so betwixt the two of them
                                                      They licked the platter clean

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        I often say that describes me and the hubs!

                                                      2. re: Cathy

                                                        Oh, yeah, when people don't eat the potato skin ... WHY?? :-) My dad used to let me have his.

                                                        1. re: occula

                                                          Devouring the innards of a baked potato so I could get to the skin is one of my best childhood chow memories. My mom always made the skin a little crunchy.

                                                          This was long before anyone heard of "potato skins," of course. 8<D

                                                          1. re: occula

                                                            i eat the fat off of any steak, pork roast, etc., that either the BF or my dad cut off and push aside on their plates. so completely wrong. (them, not me.)

                                                          2. re: Cathy

                                                            My husband and I are watching carbs and miss potatoes. Our niece is with us for the summer and we've been baking her a (big)potato and she scoops it out and gives us the skins.

                                                          3. I know you're not judging, but in their defense....In my limited dining experience, I don't believe I've ever been served shrimp with edible shells, and I do tend to watch my fellow diners.

                                                            Being from the land of Dungeness Crab, I've yet to try soft-shell crab. I'm willing to try it, since I hear it's yummy, but my little mind has a slight issue with actually eating the shells.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: tracylee

                                                              I dunno if Dungeness has an identifiable 'soft' season, I did once have soft Blue at Square One in a gumbo and the shell was a bit chewy. flavor was terrific. since have had deep-fried softs on the East Coast and believe me - no worries. not at all like shrimp shells, the molt of the crab is delicate.

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                I've never seen Dungeness sold soft, and having grown up crabbing, I think the season and size requirements limit them to hard-shelled.

                                                                I did have a spider roll for the first time today when Mom and I went to Sushi for lunch. Yum! I thought I'd explained it to Mom, but she was totally befuddled by the prep of frying the whole thing without cleaning it. As I said, completely foreign to those of us who only know Dungeness.

                                                                I've never seen blues or soft-shells sold in markets here, and only had blues while visiting the East Coast.

                                                                1. re: tracylee

                                                                  it's a short and suh-weet season (actually 2 I think), I always forget exactly when, check the DC board if you're really curious. when I lived there I never paid much attention, just kept my eyes peeled for such things. after posting that above I felt a little silly as when I lived in SF I never once saw regional soft either.

                                                            2. people probably cringe when i pull the skin off my poultry and put it aside. I just cannot bring myself to eat it.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                I would only cringe if the skin were crispy-crunchy! Rubbery chicken skin is horrible, but crispy roasted chicken skin is like the bacon of the poultry world.

                                                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                  Would you eat the skin of the style of chicken called Hainan (or Hainanese) Chicken? Google it if you are not familiar with it. For myself it is one of the nicest ways to eat chicken, especially with the associated rice & sides etc - "Hainanese Chicken Rice".

                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                    I LOVE Hainanese chicken rice -- it was a frequently-eaten favorite when I was living in Hong Kong. But that skin... I'm sure fellow diners looked on in dismay as I pushed it to one side... Eek!

                                                              2. I'm sure this is equally offputting, but I really crave it on those rare occasions when we have steaks or chops with a lovely clean strip of fat around, and my husband doesn't want his. Mmmmm, juicy, well-cooked fat. I generally do ask if I can have it but then am too shamefaced to actually take it and try to sound like I was kidding.

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: occula

                                                                  No shame in it! But the Man eats the fat, which I guess is a good thing for me...

                                                                  1. re: occula

                                                                    "The Fat" is a running joke with our best friends. The wife loves, loves, loves the fat on cuts of meat. The her husband and me? We have to turn our heads when she digs in.

                                                                    Years ago, we were at a rather nice steakhouse type of restaurant and my husband's steak had a rather large amount of fat. He can take or leave the fat but this was a really large hunk. He pushed it off to the side of his plate.

                                                                    The adjoining table was watching us and asked "aren't you going to eat that fat?"

                                                                    When my husband said no, the man reached over with his fork, stabbed the fat and ate it. We were speechless.

                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                      OMFG, good for him! I wish I had the b@lls to do that! I love beef-steak fat! (and porkfat)

                                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                                        WOW! My husband loves the fat too and will gladly eat my leavings or those of friends and family, but even he would balk at grabbing a stranger's fat! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                      2. re: occula

                                                                        My wife doesn't care for the marrow in O bone lamb chops. She always gives me that bone so I can suck out the marrow. But we only do this at home. Funnily enough, she loves beef marrow so that never comes up.

                                                                        1. re: occula

                                                                          Oooooooh--beef fat is the BEST! I like it on a grilled steak when it's got a little crispy brown on it, and I love its soft white salty unctuousness on a thick piece of prime rib. (I know where WE'RE going for Friday night dinner tonight.......)

                                                                          1. re: occula

                                                                            Some people have a sweet tooth, and some of us (me included) have a fat tooth. I am right there with you, sister.

                                                                            1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                                                              "fat tooth"! i love that! all my teeth are fat teeth.

                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                My daughter claims to have a "starch tooth."

                                                                            2. re: occula

                                                                              oh i just posted the same above - i do that all the time! i just swipe it off the plate once the offending fellow-dinner (i mean, my BF or dad, not just any other person i'm eating with!) has cut it off their meat and pushed it aside.

                                                                            3. I more or less just worry about what's on my plate when I dine out...and my dining companion's, if I'm not solo. I would only worry about folks not eating if I prepared the food. Nothing that folks do or don't do, or eat or don't eat, in restaurants nowadays wouldn't surprise me...but it would probably make me sad. So I stick to what's on my plate.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                It's not that I spend my entire time scanning what everyone is leaving on their plate. But in the instance described, I just happened to notice it. Again, wasn't judging anyone. Just wished there was a way he could have been served just the meat and our table got the shells he didn't want anyway.

                                                                                1. re: Jase

                                                                                  Years ago while in Rome I ordered grilled scampi in a garden restaurant. I suppose I should explain that scampi (singular: scampo) are in the lobster family, are also known as Dublin Bay prawns, or cigalas, and have nothing whatsoever to do wtih what Americans know as Shrimp Scampi.

                                                                                  In any case, my grilled scampi were so delicious that I couldn't stop myself from eating the shells, too. The next day--how to put this delicately--I experienced the worst case of digestive disturbance that I have ever known.

                                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                                    Nope, I know you're not judging. But OP's dining-out habits (and manners) are so weird that I find it less distracting to just concentrate on my table. :)

                                                                                2. Pizza King is an Indiana chain which is pretty tasty, always dirty-looking, and inexplicably expensive. In college my broke-ass roommates and I were eating our frugally-saved-up-for small cheese pizza at the local Pizza King when we heard a ruckus break out in the booth behind ours. Some suburban townie family had gotten a glorious extra-large pizza with all the best toppings: pepperoni, bacon, crumbled sausage, olives, mushrooms, and salami. BUT it mistakenly came out with jalapenos and was 'too spicy'. They threw a fit and left, leaving my roommates and I no choice but to rescue that glorious XL pizza from the dumpster free of charge. We left a very nice tip for the waitress who let us do it.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                    Pizza King... Is that the place where you order with a phone that's affixed to your table? Lived for a short stint in Richmond and always got a kick out of that place. Tasty pizza!
                                                                                    Had a similar situation happen at a Denny's. A whole table full of people inexplicably took off right as their food arrived. Nothing was touched. Being a bunch of penniless highschoolers we immediately at all of it...

                                                                                  2. I feel that way when people don't eat shrimp heads. Oh, delicious shrimp heads.

                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                      Please excuse my ignorance but I do hate to miss something tasty. However, it never entered my own head to eat the shrimp heads. Do you eat the entire thing -- eyes, antenna, shell, and all? Just the interior? Of any shrimp or just ones prepared so the skins are crispy?

                                                                                      1. re: susanl143

                                                                                        Depends on how crispy they are or how they are done.

                                                                                        1. re: susanl143

                                                                                          Or just suck out the brains if they are not crispy. Yummy yummy brains.

                                                                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                              nope sorry, I do enjoy the shell depending on the preparation, but can't abide the head or the brains. Will avoid a fish head too whenever possible. No offal either. Hard to believe I lived in asia for 3 years isn't it.

                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                Wow. I don't even wanna think about all the shrimp brains and fish eyeballs and cheeks you threw away. So sad. *sniff*

                                                                                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                  i can manage the cheeks, but the brains and eyes....not so much

                                                                                                  in most cases there was an older person present, and I insisted that the elder take the 'best' piece of fish. sigh, I guess I can't go back now, I would be the elder and the visitor.

                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                    I don't have an aversion to fish eyes, just not one of my faves. My mom feels the same way. Growing up, whenever we had fish for dinner Dad would take one eye and sis the other since they loved it. Running joke how that worked out for everyone and good thing eyes come in pairs.

                                                                                                    Now the cheek meat, we all fought for it. That's some tender stuff right there.

                                                                                          1. re: susanl143

                                                                                            If you ever order sweet shrimp while out for sushi, they usually offer the heads in a choice of soup or fried. The body is served raw on the rice while the heads are whisked to the back to be prepared. I almost always order them fried. They're crispy crunchy and I eat them all up including most of the antenna. But yes, eyes and everything.

                                                                                            My wife likes sweet shrimp but not the heads, she gladly hands me her portion.

                                                                                        2. you mean like my friends who will wolf down half a pizza, but leave the outer rim of wonderful crust because they are avoiding bulk carbs? Or when I trim the excess fat off my meat because it sticks in my throat like glue, and my friends look at me like i look at them when they trim the pizza? Nope no idea what the OP means.

                                                                                          1. I bet they were clueless. I'm a relatively experienced and international eater, and have even studied books on Asian ingredients--like Bruce Cost's book of that name--and I've never thought of eating shellfish shells.

                                                                                            You might have indicated to those people that the shells were edible. But I myself would only do so if the tables were close together, and it were something that could be communicated very casually.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                              Yet eating crispy prawn/shrimp shells is commonly done (and savored) by Chinese diners within or from those cuisines. (I eat them too). I have not read Bruce Cost's books, but it seems to me from what you say that he (and others) miss a great deal of what "natives" do - assuming he does not mention prawn shell eating - perhaps because he is not "of the culture", or is stuck in a "Western approach" to the cuisine?

                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                Well, my point was about my own knowledge. Cost may very well be familiar with eating shells. He probably is.

                                                                                                But I'll defend him more generally in this sense: his book covers Asian cuisines from Thailand to China and Japan, and in much-better-than-average detail. I'm pretty confident that even a Japanese writer trying to write about, say, Thai cuisine would be prey to a similar level of "inauthenticity." I encourage you not to judge him before you read his book--it's a classic.

                                                                                            2. I regularly eat out with a friend who peels the crisp skin off fish and pushes it to the side of her plate. Luckily she doesn't mind me jumping in with my fork.
                                                                                              I don't watch what neighbouring tables are eating - I think I'd cringe if I saw someone leave the best part of the whole meal to be thrown away but I'd not consider asking for it.

                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Peg

                                                                                                Have you ever had roasted Salmon skin? So yummy. There is a place in Seattle that uses it in a sushi roll.

                                                                                                1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                  A friend gifted me with a dozen salmon skins. I wrapped and froze them individually. Such a treat to broil an entire skin and snack on it.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                                                    When I buy a side of hot-smoked salmon that comes with the skin - I peel it off, cut it into strips and cook it in a griddle pan till crisp. Sooooo good.

                                                                                                  2. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                    I used to discard this but read a lot of the beneficial oils are in the skin. It is tasty. Trout skin is too.

                                                                                                    1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                      Is that just a Seattle thing? Seems like everyone here does it, I thought it was just a regular sushi item.

                                                                                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                        it's a regular sushi item.

                                                                                                        and i almost always cook my salmon skin on, to get the crispy skin
                                                                                                        most other filets too

                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                          Thought so. I always keep skin on, love it. A few people in my life refuse to eat fish skin because they've heard 'that's where all the toxins are'. Maybe the subcutaneous fat layer isn't the best thing to eat every day, but we're talking wild Alaska salmon several times a month or fewer, not every day and I'd rather die happy anyway.

                                                                                                          1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                            Roasted salmon skin is rarely seen in Japanese sushi bars, though in izakaya it is part of a grilled salmon filet.

                                                                                                  3. How many of us have kids, or once were kids, who simply would not eat the crust of bread? At some point for most people it does kick in that the crust is the best part. For now, I am happy to eat the crusts my kids don't want.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                      I'd never heard of not eating the crust, and it never occurred to me until my roommate my sophomore year of college mentioned that she grew up not eating crusts. I guess I was pretty sheltered!

                                                                                                      1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                        Depends on the type of bread. American white-not so much. Bagette or filone, yes please.

                                                                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                          filone? wtf is that? nevermind, i googled it...

                                                                                                      2. I've got some fish heads and frames in the freezer that I'm going to use to make fish stock. Thank goodness for places where we can buy the whole fish and not just the fillets. I love seafood soups all year long. I know people who can't even look at a fish head.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Toni6921

                                                                                                          i KNOW! when I was a waiter, years ago, when someone at a table would order fish they would say "please ask the chef to remove the head". and then someone at the table would order beef, i would say " should i have the head removed from that too?"

                                                                                                        2. Lord have mercy NO ONE should be embarrassed to eat the creamy, crispy (hopefully charred and potentially cancer causing) fat from a good piece of beef! Stab the leftovers off of your lover's plate! One of the most generous thing my husband does for me is give me the best piece of fat off of his steak. That's REAL love...

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: lulasforlunch

                                                                                                            LOL, my husband said he knew it was true love when, early on in our relationship, I cooked him a steak dinner which included all of the fat from both of our (pretty fatty) ribeyes, trimmed and fried up separately, just for him. I don't even think he finished the steak because he was so enamored of all the fat!

                                                                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                              I just want to go to that restaurant and order those shrimp! http://www.flickr.com/photos/46801360...

                                                                                                              1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                Yup! That's the dish that sparked the post for me. Hopefully that pic gives people an idea of how the heads and shells can be eaten.

                                                                                                                1. re: Jase

                                                                                                                  Seriously, your description of that dish is so amazing that I have to go and have it next time I'm in Vegas!

                                                                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                    If you like Thai food, Lotus of Siam is an absolute must visit on any Vegas trips. Make sure to check out the Northern Menu. Do some research on the Vegas board and you'll get a good idea of some of the other well regarded dishes. The crispy rice appetizer is amazing.

                                                                                                          2. Haha! I have a similar reaction to seeing folks cut some meat off a ribeye or prime rib and leave the beautiful bone with all the super-tender meat and fat untouched. Granted, I am a savage and cannot resist gnawing away until every last bit of the goodness is in my belly.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: mangetoutoc

                                                                                                              The meat on the bone is the tastiest. Can I get an 'Amen'?

                                                                                                              1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                amen. mmhmmbaby. (gotta hear it to get the affirming accent right)

                                                                                                              2. re: mangetoutoc

                                                                                                                We had grilled ribs this last week on a family vacation and my nephew has picked up some of my sister's habits (picking the meat away from the fat in bacon) and they both left a ton of meat on the ribs, grabbing more from the pan to just eat the outside. Granted, I rarely eat ribs because I have issues getting my hands messy (whole 'nother thread there), but it really bugged me to see them going through so many ribs and leaving so much meat behind.

                                                                                                                1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                  I am a bacon meat picker and it took me 37 years to get over my getting my hands messy while eating issue. We do need another thread about the messy hands issue.

                                                                                                                  1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                    Oh man. That's a crime! We had ribs over the holiday weekend too. Lovely slow smoked ribs that every single person in the room sucked every last bit of meat off of. And then went back for seconds and thirds.

                                                                                                                2. My family will order food from a restaurant only to throw away the leftovers instead of getting a carry out box. Maybe it's the more frugal side of me, but to pay 7 dollars average on food to simply throw it away is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                  Another thing. While certainly not as sophisticated as fried prawns, a local place here has amazing onion rings. Super crunchy and greasy, nowhere near health food. My Dad will only eat the outer crust, completely defeting the purpose of an ONION. He is family so I don't see a problem with telling him how crazy his eating is haha :)

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Laurenjo28

                                                                                                                    Onions nearly always play a supporting role in food - especially onion rings!

                                                                                                                  2. I want to add that the specific dish mentioned by the original poster--prawns fried and consumed with the shell--intrigued me, so yesterday I made some.

                                                                                                                    It's true: when deep-fried (something I rarely do at home), the shrimps shells do get crispy and delicious. I even went one further and used head-on shrimp: the whole thing is edible, crunchy outside, tender inside. (Those heads are rich, I have to say.) Thanks for the inspiration!

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                      I've eaten them that way. Saw them done on "Luke Nyugen's (sp) Viet Nam" this AM. A guy "got in trouble" on Chopped because his shell on shrimp hadn't been cleaned.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                        I actually did devein these shrimps, still with heads on. But actually I don't often bother to devein shrimp. I simply noted that the OP talked about how the frying "fans out the prawns," so I assume that deveining was involved.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                          Wow! That sounds tricky! You cut the shell down the back?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                            It's not so hard, and I only did a handful of them.

                                                                                                                            I used kitchen shears and cut down the tail starting at the base of the head and moving to the end of the tail. That leaves the head intact, and if you angle the shears slightly into the tail meat, you expose the vein.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                        Glad that worked out for you. Did you separate the body from the shell before frying or just fry the whole thing? Either way would work. There's a Chinese dish with salt and pepper shrimp where you don't pull the body out like this Thai dish. Instead you just deep fry the whole piece. You can eat the whole piece and it's akin to eating something with a crust and moist interior.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jase

                                                                                                                          I fried them whole, removing only a long spike on the head (the rostrum), and we ate it all except for the tail. Head, shell, legs, feelers--all that was crispy and tasty. The interior remained perfectly moist.

                                                                                                                      3. In Buenos Aires we watched two German couples sit at the adjacent table and utter the only two words of Spanish they knew: "Lomos completos!". Duly they were served gargantuan tenderloin steaks with heaps of French fried potatoes and all of it topped with sunny-side up fried eggs. They wolfed all of this down then summoned the waiter and went again: "Lomos completos!". Ate it all.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                          what is lomos completos? ( And that meal sounds yummy!)

                                                                                                                          1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                                            To each their own...........avoids a lot of agita