I took home a 1/2 slab of ribs last weekend for a teenage son that was not with me. Fine dining generally does not translate into a doggy bag for me.....it's usually the bistro or median priced restaurants that have super large portions. Sometimes when I'm eating from a prix fixe menu and get to dessert and have no room, I'll take home something that travels well.
Pork Tenderloin I take home. Its good cold- straight from the fridge in the middle of the night (obviously the time of day when I am at my most sophisticated)
My grandmother embarrasses me. She packs up everything. Food off her plate, food off our plates, rolls, pats of butter, everything. My dad says it because she grew up during the depression. I think its possible that she might just be weird.
I'll take home what translates into lunch the next day, or a comprable quantity. If I've spent good money on a restaurant meal, I reserve the right to take the balance of it home with me.
In NY and other large cities, people take doggy bags and give them to the homeless. Once at a light, I jumped out of my car (I was a passenger, not the driver ) and handed a doggy bag to a homeless person. He seemed extremely grateful and I felt good about it.
The only thing I normally take home is pizza. Everything else always seems quite different after it's been shoved in a styrofoam clamshell -- mushy, unappetising. Yuck.
Normally, I order an appetiser and salad instead of an entree, or share an entree with my husband, so that there isn't anything left over. Most appetisers, especially in places with pretensions, are like meals in themselves anyway. I hate when I'm given a huge, pig-sized trough of food; I don't feel as though I'm "getting my money's worth," I feel like quantity is more important than quality.
(On an unrelated note: I also loathe those enormous charger-sized plates so many places seem to be into. Yes, it allows the kitchen staff to build Architectural Marvels out of my food -- but then why the **** don't they have bigger tables? Me on one side, A. on the other, two of those wheel-size plates, and we have to start moving the salt and pepper shakers and our drinks onto the window ledge to make room. What IS that about?)
Some restaurants serve such huge portion you could never eat it all. I'll ask for a doggie bag often. The food is good, you paid for it, why not enjoy it the next day. It will just remind you of the good time you had the night before.
I have always wondered how was born the use of doggy bags-whether it comes from your practical anglo-saxon mentality, or from the fact you have "your eyes bigger than your stomachs" and need to be served with king-size meals that you can't destroy all at once
In Italy, the custom of doggy bags is unknown and if you asked for taking away your leftovers you would be considered totally insane...maybe you could get them, but for the same reason why it's always better to go along with someone who is mentally ill
In any case, it seems to me a very good idea if you're supposed to give that food to a poor guy and maybe also to your dog...but I'm not so stimulated by the idea of reheating the day after something old and cold (mainly if it comes from an ordinary place)
Do you think it's because of my old-fashioned mediterranean mentality?
Pongi -- you're right about the "practical anglo-saxon mentality" as in "Waste not, want not," even among those of us who are not exactly anglo-saxon. There are a lot of people who think that big portions equal GOOD*. But as you can see from CompassRose, not everyone likes that (I agree with her). It's difficult, because if a restaurant thinks its customers want huge portions, they'll serve them -- even though it could be easier and cheaper to serve manageable sizes. American abundance = a lot of waste!
I sometimes eat all the vegetables and accompaniments on my plate and bring home almost the entire piece of meat (usually chicken or steak). Then at home I'll turn that slab of protein into a completely different meal for 2 people! And sometimes still have leftovers from that!
* There's an old joke about 2 old ladies at a resort hotel, complaining to each other:
First o.l.: The food here is terrible.
Second o.l.: Yes, and the portions are so small!
I seem to remember reading somewhere (of course I can't find it!) that 'doggie bags' originally came into use in the big steak and chop houses in NYC, where they served huge chops and on the bone steaks, and people would ask for a bag, to literally take the bone home to the dog. Can't verify this, though. Sorry for the senior moment!