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Are You a Tidy Terry or a Filthy Fran?

I'm a plate neatnik. I want all of my courses to be separated by a good centimeter of green space. No juice from the pinto beans infiltrating into the mashed taters, no green beans miscegenating with the corn. I like my vittles to be pure and unadulterated. No mess and no muss.

The Khantessa, on the other hand, is a gustatory Goth. A bread-breaking barbarian. Why she's been known to make a well in her mashed pertatas and fill it with peas! Frankly, it makes me break out in a cold sweat.

So what about yous guys? Does your plate of food look like something in the Louvre or the MoMA?

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    1. I like my plates to look nice when I serve them but I have no issue with my food touching or mingling.

      While I don't mix my peas with my mashed potatoes I like to eat them together and will often fork a little potato and peas together for single bite. I dip my turkey in the gravy, will scoop stuffing with cranberry sauce, dip my bacon or toast in my egg yolk, etc etc,

      1. Ha Ha! I honestly thought this thread was about kitchen tidiness. I don't make plates, I leave everything in the kitchen and everyone serves themselves.

        I'll go with a Tidy Terry aka Louvre. DS is as well, more than me. SO will pile it all on until it's a mishmash of food.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JerryMe

          So did I, and was trying to decide whether to divulge my messy tendencies. Whew.

          I try not to pile stuff on top of stuff, and once it's on my plate I tend to eat one dish at a time, but not always.

          BTW, I don't like gravy on mashed potatoes, I like a little volcano crater full of butter in it to gently mix in. Or maybe dip into from the outside part if I can do it without drawing attention. Which puts me in circus freak category, probably.

          1. re: EWSflash

            Not at all EWSflash - I don't like gravy period.

        2. It depends....if the mixing alters the taste (sweet seeping unwantedly into savory, or liquid making crunchy into mushy), I say "separate but equal". I love me my beets, but I don't want my beets running into my liver n onions. Sometimes, I even eat in order (all my collard greens, all my meat, all my salad). On the other hand, I'm not super fastidious about my egg yolk running into my bacon or anything like that because the egg's been cooking the in bacon drippings, so they're all in the family.

          3 Replies
          1. re: pinehurst

            I eat in order. Only one item on my plate at a time. Drives my husband nuts.

            1. Peas in the tater well is OK. Ketchup in the tater well? Keep the pre-nup handy.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Are you sure you're not the Daddy on the other thread talkin' bout the Kid Who Came to Dinner and Put Sriracha in his taters?

                1. re: pinehurst

                  Let's plaaay #2 and we'll talk it over. I enjoy Donald Ross courses!

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Lord knows, so do I but they don't enjoy me....or they enjoy me too much and mock me. Next time I'm headed for NC I'll tell ya!

                    And I'll have them hide the ketchup!

              2. Hubby is a "Tidy Terry". In fact, I jokingly refer to him as "Monk" (from the tv show about an extremely obsessive-compulsive detective) because of the way he separates his food. I can almost see him spasm if we go to a restaurant where they stack or "pyramid" the food - lol!

                I, on the other hand, really don't care all that much. I won't say I'm a total "Filthy Fran" & go to extremes re: mashing things together, but I really don't care whether my food "touches" or not.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Bacardi1

                  So funny!! I have so many Monk tendencies too, foodwise and just life in general. It's a good thing my husband is the exact opposite!

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    Ha! DH accidentally told me after I commented on how bloody thoroughly he mashes out his baked potato and mixes in the butter and whatever else. He told me that his college roommate watched him do that one too many times and finally said "Just eat the goddamn thing already, will ya?!?"

                    1. re: EWSflash

                      It's funny how other people's eating habits can irritate. When I was a li'l Khan, I had a mortal fear of fat. I'd pare away each little molecule of fat. I could find fat on a stalk of asparagus. Used to drive my dad nuts. He'd bellow, "There's not even any fat on there! Just eat it!"

                      I couldn't understand why he gave a dam' what I was doing with my own chow.

                      Now, however, my wife has the same phat phobia, not to mention an abhorrence of any scintilla of pinkness in a steak and it's driven me to drinkin'.

                  2. As a child, I wanted a DMZ between the foods on my plate. That was before whatever grade included simple human biology. Once I realized that the stomach churns everything up together, I started mashing everything together on my plate although Mom did plant the seed for this when she started mixing my creamed spinach together with the smashed boiled potato and putting gravy on it because I did not like the spinach on its own. I am not sure how long this phase lasted but my parents rode it out without making an issue about it (as long as I only did it at home). I settled into a laissez-faire equilibrium. If the carrot juice and the gravy want to socialize, I let them do their thing. That's how I discovered that I like maple syrup on corned beed hash, after all!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: greygarious

                      Same. As a kid I was so much happier eating out of those partitioned plates that had three sections so none of my food juices would touch each other.

                      Really glad I grew out of that phase, I sure was missing a lot!

                    2. I'm a Louvre kind of gal. However, there are occasions when only MoMA will do. Most recent MoMA meal I can think of was at a very nice restaurant I was visiting for the first time--classic Frenchified American. I ordered the filet, which came with roasted fingerlings and asparagus. The sauce was so damned flavorful it *accidentally* got all over the taters and sparrowgrass.

                      1. I also thought this one was about that cleaning-while-you-cook thread. And wanted to tell my story on that. I will save it for later.

                        I am a TT. None of my food should touch. And Never peas and Mashed!

                        I do a buffet type plating. Everyone helps themselves to what ever (and how ever) they want. My BF simply piles everything on top of each other. I don't let him fix my plate.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pksmart

                          I'm not particularly concerned with food touching with one major exception....peas. The peas always go into a bowl NEXT to the plate with the other food.

                        2. Another person who thought this was a kitchen/cleaning thread, oops.

                          I am "in between". I don't "pile" food, but if it touches on the plate I'm ok with that too. It's all going to the same place, right?

                          This concept did make me wonder how the "tidy terrys" of the world deal with cuisines (thinking some Indian, Thai etc) where certain dishes are "meant" to be layered by the diner work? Or does the "no food shall touch another" rule still apply?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pedalfaster

                            Does not apply to this TT. I'm an Indian food fan and am completely cool with a curry--if I may be so bold--butting up against a pad of rice.

                          2. Separate but I have started mixing while eating. As a kid, I never mixed food. Now, I still don't do it much but I will mix occasionally. The separate sections are never fully incorporated but I will load up a fork with bites from each. My friends often mock me at places like buffets and holiday dinners. My buffet plate despite the fact that I stuff myself silly by the time the night is over is quite sparse because I like everything to be separate, and so I often go through many more extra helpings.

                            1. Things usually start out separated but end up mixed together. I don't mix peas with my potatoes... I add corn! Best ever.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                Mashed potatoes are such a treat to me that I don't mix other foods with it (except for the butter as outlined above). I get them MAYBE twice a year.

                              2. My father was the same as you. Anal.

                                Wait. That's not a good word when it comes to food.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: rccola

                                  I thought about Anal Annie instead of Tidy Terry, but pulled out at the last moment.

                                    1. re: rccola

                                      This. entire. thread. has me laughing out loud.

                                2. I want my flavors unadulterated, too. If the vegetables are in pot-likker, they go in a little bowl on the side.

                                  I don't mind the red sauce from my cabbage rolls having a party with the mashed potatoes, but that's because it's kind of the gravy for that dish.

                                  DH likes to mush it all up at the end. I cannot do that. My plate is orderly all the way to the finish. Except for breakfast. The runny eggs can go wherever they darn well please, I love 'em that much.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    I am similar, and often will plate things separately. Now that you reminded me, I always plate my vegetables in a separate bowl. If there is any bread alongside, it too gets a separate plate and is never placed on the side of the plate with the main dish.

                                  2. I too thought this thread was about kitchen cleaning. What a letdown..:-)

                                    Well, I put meat on one part of plate, mashed potatoes and vegetables separately. Gravy on top of potatoes and rolls with butter on the side. Never mIx peas in wth anything. My husband though mixes fried egg into pancakes with maple syrup which grosses me out. Only when we eat out. Never at home. Thank god we don't eat breakfast out that often...:-)

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: miss_belle

                                      Gravy and gravity are not always the best of friends...

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        I believe it was Empedocles who first said that.

                                    2. I am Oscar to my husband's Felix---when eating at home I tend to leave a lot of crumbs! And I love to mix corn into the mashed potatoes while hubby will put his veggies in a separate dish.

                                      1. Tidy. If I could get away with eating from the plastic plates with divider walls without being sent to some special home because of it, I would. At thanksgiving and other multiple-offering dinners, my food nearly falls off the plate, not because it's necessarily heaping, but because everything is pushed outward to keep things from touching.

                                        Good gosh, this sounds weird.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: KrumTx

                                          does NOT sound weird to me at all!

                                          1. re: KrumTx

                                            I'm very much the same. And I'm aghast at my kinfolks' plates, which are a chaotic melange of every dam' thing on the counter. They've got it piled so high there's no way in hell you could even tell what you're chuffing.

                                            1. re: KrumTx

                                              That doesn't sound at all weird and you can buy those plates. Though I have no special concern about neat plates, I'd be enchanted by something recreating the TV dinners of my youth. But actually tasting like food.

                                            2. MoMA definitey. Strarch placed to the right. Protein center. Salad or vegtable on the left. Crammed,like a subway during rush hour. Overlapping and ugly.So tasty. On the otherhand if I am out for breakfast. That sliced orange served on the plate touching my eggs make me shudder.

                                              1. Count me as a tidy! My fridge is tidy, my mise en place is tidy, I wash as I cook, and when it all ends up on the plate, it's got to be tidy.

                                                1. Tidy 90% of the time. As a kid, I wouldn't eat creamed corn (flood corn) 'cause it made a mess on the plate.

                                                  However, if I do a traditional pot roast with the chunked potatoes, I must squish a couple of potato bits and slop 'em with some gravy.

                                                  So, I'm a TT hypocrite.

                                                  1. Omigosh do I love this discussion. :D It depends, I guess, there are foods I'd rather not run into each other but usually I'm the person who will let the carrots touch the mashed pertatas, if that makes me a gustatory Goth, well, yah got me. I have Viking blood flowing through my veins, if my ancestors were fortunate enough to get their lutefisk and potatoes for a feast they heaped their plates and smothered them with cream of whatever soup and buried the memory with aquavit, and sang songs of gladness.

                                                    SO on the other hand is a Tidy Terry. If he could work his will he'd have a separate plate for each food item, and eats one at a time. My sister, when we were children, could be reduced to a shrieking hysteria if I snitched the last french-fry off her plate as she systematically, (OCD much, sis) worked her way around her plate, a bite of this followed by a bite of that. Perhaps I grew up seeing her as an example that should not be followed, I always felt bad after snitching her last fry (and yet I couldn't stop myself). I'm more mellow about my carrots touching my mashed pertatas. Even if it is miscegenation, the word by the way, I love you for using in this context!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: afridgetoofar

                                                      This is delightfully well-written, and in some parts hysterically funny. "Sang songs of gladness.." almost made me wet my pantaloons.Thanks for sharing this. I felt like I was right there.

                                                    2. I think I'm a bit of a Filthy Fran. I don't mind my food touching each other, matter of fact, I choose foods for a meal that complement each other, so it doesn't matter if they touch. For instance, I wouldn't serve cranberry sauce with spaghetti and meatballs. Speaking of spaghetti, I've been known to place my vinegar and oil dressed salad on the plate beneath my spaghetti and tomato and meat sauce.

                                                      1. I generally keep the components of my dish apart, but I don't mind if they intermingle. Towards the end of my meal, I couldn't care less. My hash browns and toast get dredged through whatever yolk is left on my plate. My bread gets dunked in my salad dressing or is used to scoop up any delicious sauce from my main. I clean the soup bowl with bread regularly.

                                                        I may not prefer it, but there's no issue if some potato or creamed spinach gets on my piece of steak - sometimes it's a nice variation.

                                                        I often use whatever pieces of meat or veg that is left on my plate to scrape up the other bits of shrapnel from other elements. More than once it has been mentioned that my finished dish looks as clean as a fresh dish.

                                                        1. This is a good question to ask first-graders.

                                                          1. Neither, exactly.I want food pretty much separate on the plate,but a little touching doesn't bother me. Then I make my own combination on the fork---a steak/spinach bite is refreshingly different from a steak/potato bite.

                                                              1. I keep my portions small on my plate so I have room to navigate..I can always get another serving. I do keep food separate on the plate...salads in a bowl..and I tend to polish off one food at a time.I like my food to look inviting on my plate not soggy and careening into each other. I have no qualms if someone else I am dining with is a*mixologist*as Passadumkeg calls it:) I will crowd foods onto a large plate @ Thanksgiving and scoop up potatos...gravy....cornbread stuffing and whole cranberries with a small slab of roast turkey to stuff my face.IF they sold mini shovels to eat with I would be up for that on Thanksgiving.Good Times!

                                                                1. My parents love to regale people with stories about my childhood eating preferences. Apparently I loved placing entire meals into my drinking cup. I do have a distinct memory of dipping potato chips into kool-aid.

                                                                  I am well aligned with the Khantessa. I still mix and meld my meals to this day. Let stuffing, mashed potatos, and gravy live in glorious harmony!

                                                                  1. I plate our meals when it is just the two of us eating. I make the plates look appealing. Beyond that, I don't worry about the issue.