The Omnivore
The Omnivore
Aug. 28 1996 3:30 AM

The Omnivore

Learning to eat everything.

(Continued from Page 2)

The Catholic Church was dead wrong. I would have starved—if my companion had not saved the day by ordering for both of us. I believe I had a composed salad with slivers of foie gras, a perfect sole meunière, and sweetbreads. Everything was delicious.

Step Six: learning humility. Just because you have become a perfect omnivore does not mean that you must flaunt it. Intoxicated with my accomplishment, I began to misbehave, especially at dinner parties. When seated next to an especially finicky eater, I would amuse myself by going straight for the jugular. Sometimes I began slyly by staring at the food left on her plate and then inquiring about her allergies; sometimes I launched a direct assault by asking how long she had had a fear of bread. And then I would sit back and sagely listen to a neurotic jumble of excuses and explanations: the advice from her personal trainer, her intolerance to wheat gluten, a pathetic faith in Dean Ornish, the exquisite--even painful--sensitivity of her taste buds, hints of childhood abuse.

While it is perfectly all right—even charitable—to practice this kind of tough love on those of one's dinner-party neighbors who are less omnivorous than oneself, the perfect omnivore must always keep in mind that it is an absolute necessity to get invited back.

Jeffrey Steingarten is the food critic of Vogue, and has won several James Beard Awards and a decoration from the French Republic in the process.

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