Have you ever been out for dinner with someone, and you ask, "Is that good?" and they respond, "Yes!"
Yet you notice they are picking the meal apart, cutting it into tiny bites, and trying to hide it under the garnish at the side of the plate so it looks like they've eaten more than they actually have.
Has anyone else noticed this? Is it just a Canadian thing to never say anything bad in a restaurant?
I'm really picky about food. I have no problem modifying my order until it's nearly unrecognizable from what's listed in the menu, or sending the food back if it's not cooked properly or if it's wrong. I figure, if I'm paying for it, they should serve what I asked for. Note: I'm not rude about it, or at least I try not to be, because I know the waiter/waitress isn't the one who overcooked my fish until it's turned into a piece of shale, or undercooked the chicken breast so it's a sickly, pink in the centre.
But let's talk about when it's not a matter of being poorly prepared. What about when something is over salted, or the mixture of flavours isn't to your taste? When it's a matter of like/dislike.
Do you tell the truth when someone asks you if it's good?
I'm notoriously honest/blunt, and I still have a problem answering "no" to that question, even if I hate what's on the plate in front of me.
So I've stopped asking.
Instead of the ripe-for-a-white-lie question, "Is it good?", I ask, "Would you have that again?"
And people are more likely to answer with a real opinion rather than a dismissive "yes".
Asking if the food is good is the same as bumping into someone you haven't seen in ages and asking how they're doing. Almost always, people respond with an off-hand, throw-away phrase, or a single word answer, then move on. It's a question that is asked out of habit/politeness, and rarely answered honestly.
With food, whether it's "good" or not is almost irrelevant. It's such a vague word that it's practically meaningless, but asking if they would pay to have the same meal served to them again...? That's specific and relevant to the person you're asking.
I've been thinking of this in terms of books/authors because I recently lent a couple books to a friend of mine. We have never exchanged books before, but she asked me to give her a couple of my favourites so she could see what I liked. I also recently cleaned out my book shelves and donated about half the books to the Salvation Army.
That's a very clear division between, "I would have that/read that/pay for it again," and, "No."
Since I'm also trying to catch up on my reading while taking a writing sabbatical over the holidays, I'm also thinking a lot about this question. Specifically, because I've read so many first, or first + second books in a series/trilogy... and am deciding whether to buy/read the rest or not.
So far, the first one I've bought (book 3 in a trilogy, I'm 2/3 of the way through) is so dishearteningly disappointing that I'm leaning more towards reading stand-alone books.
If anyone has any good suggestions, please leave a comment. I like weird, dark, and complex. YA, specifically, please. Someone mentioned "The Raven Boys" as a good one, so that might be next on my to-read-list.
...and when my friend brings my books back, I'm not going to ask her if she liked them.
Instead, I'm going to ask, "Would you like to borrow another book?"
Essentially it's the same question, but the way you ask it will usually result in a completely different answer.
...but then again, maybe I'm thinking too much about "spin"...? It wouldn't be the first time my over-analytical brain went flying off on a tangent :)