Dear Reader,

Tomorrow, that would be Thursday, February 17, please join Squid Ink in celebrating its completely unofficial first food-related holiday: Put Down Your ePhing iPhone and Eat Night. To illustrate the need for such an event, please consider the following:

The Yelp Listing for Osteria Mozza has no fewer than 291 food photos. Most of them, it appears, snapped surreptitiously with camera phones.

So at least 291 times, someone was presented with a plate of Silverton/Batali-created food… and instead of eagerly scooping up a bite of oozy burratta, digging into a spicy jumble of sausage and orecchiette, slicing their fork through an exquisitely buttery ricotta and egg raviolo, their first impulse was to snap a picture.

It's enough to make some of us lose our appetite.

Most of us who are required by work to take photographs of our food accept the duty grudgingly. We may even fantasize about Anne Fishbein one day retracing our meals with her camera. But if you're the guy posting photo 278, chances are you don't have to. You don't have to experience your meal on a meta level, readjusting your rapidly cooling soup for the best possible photo angle, comprising Facebook status updates while you chew, or dashing off to the bathroom to tweet your meal between courses. You can just experience without documenting. Something it seems we all do far too little of in this age of social media.

In light of that unfortunate truth, we at Squid Ink are calling upon you, the food-minded of Los Angeles, to join us in a grand experiment. This Thursday, February 17th, 2011, we ask you to…

Eat a meal. That's it.

For the first Put Down Your ePhing iPhone and Eat Night, we challenge you to devote dinner this Thursday to the purpose of doing nothing more than enjoying it and the company you're with. (Why Thursday? There's no reason behind it. Much like, say, posting the ninth photo of Hatfield's croque madame on Yelp…)

That means no snapping photos to post on your profile. No scrolling through emails, even when your dinner companion starts describing why she's sure getting back together with her ex a fifth time is finally going to be the charm. No, “Sorry, it's important!” texting back your C-list actor friend, no matter how badly in need of therapy/a job/a life he may be.

Just please, god, no pictures…

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