In all things, what people want is not always the “best.” Consider dining: even if money were no object, sometimes people would prefer a grilled cheese sandwich, made from Kraft singles and Wonder bread; to Oeufs Benedict with Italian ham.
My wife Cindy’s birthday on the weekend was like that. In our family, on one’s birthday, you get to eat whatever you want. (I get two inch thick rare beef tenderloin with roasted asparagus and rosemary potatoes.) Cindy has a choice of anything I make. My repertoire includes an amazing variation of Chicken Kiev that involves bacon and asparagus; a succulent tender veal scallopini; barbecued salmon with a sundried tomato rub; chicken Milanese, any kind of perfectly grilled beef; prosciutto e melone; a variety of kebobs and souvlakis; roasted or grilled pork tenderloin; and several kinds of fruit pies. So what did she choose? This:
For those of you unfamiliar with eastern Canadian cuisine, that is a lobster roll. It’s diced-up lobster meat mixed in with some mayo, dijon, celery, cucumber, lemon, and spices and seasoning, served in a butter-fried hot dog bun. My presentation includes parsley, paprika, and a whole claw sticking up like a sail. And, of course, crinkle cut french fries from PEI. This shot makes it look smaller than it is, because we have REALLY big dinner plates.
So why would Cindy prefer what is essentially New Brunswick’s version of fast food to some of my finer gourmet creations? Because for a birthday dinner, with a 7-year old participating, and cake and cards and presents and all; this is I guess the definition of “comfort food.” It’s what she asks for every year.
So, when predicting people’s preferences, remember: context is everything.