I believe I invented the grazing table trend, and now they make me sick
OPINION: I started the grazing table trend and now I think they’re gross. If I never have to see another grazing table on Instagram, I will finally unblock all my friends.
I am so absolutely sick of grazing tables. You will no longer catch me near one. The excess of food is incredibly obnoxious and looks absolutely gluttonous.
There are no laws in grazing tables but there really ought to be. People are adding warm cheeses next to cold curls of salmon, which are pressed right next to squares of sweating chocolate. Would you like pineapple juice soaked oat cracker with a little bit of Nutella ham?
That gross guy you work with in the office who definitely does not wash his hands in the bathroom – he’s just fingered through the mixed nuts looking for a grape to go with strawberry cheese stick.
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When I speak to people about grazing tables, they don’t believe me when I tell them I made what might have been the first one in 2015. Honestly, I still don’t really believe it myself.
I’m not a foodie, I’m not a huge party planner – I’d rather go to a bar and have other people do the dishes. But if I’m forced to throw a host a get-together, trust I will be going over the top with food and drinks – it’s in my culture to over-cater.
On December 31st, 2015, I invited five friends over for a small New Year’s Eve party.
I had drinks and I had snacks, but I didn’t have enough plates or serving boards – what I did have though was a large roll of brown paper and a rickety dining table.
Inspired by a Filipino kamayan meal I had as a teenager and my childhood memories of eating piles off fresh boiled seafood off newspaper-covered tables, I decided to serve my snacks “grazing style”. My goal was to just have my close friends sit around and pick food off the table as they pleased. No dishes, just roll up the paper and straight into the bin when it was all done.
It was cute; I was proud of what I did. I took some photos and uploaded them to the ‘gram, that year filters and borders were out and flat-lays were in.
The year after, I did another one of these “grazing tables”. This time more guests, more food, more Instagram likes. I still hadn’t seen anyone replicate it yet.
Every so often I would set up small grazing tables for my friends at their requests.
I turned 30 the next year. I had 150-plus guests in my apartment and a five-metre long grazing table.
Everyone was ‘gramming and grazing the night away, noise control was called twice, the hoi polloi of Auckland’s finest creatives and too-cool-to-be-influential influencers rubbed shoulders with me, a 30 year old who spent half an hour setting up a grazing table.
A few months later, grazing tables were everywhere. People were having them at drinks after work, 21st birthdays, product launches and some even started their own businesses setting up grazing tables. Did I accidentally start a food trend in New Zealand? I searched and searched online to find grazing tables in NZ made before 2015. I couldn’t find anything close to what I created.
I look at these monstrous creations now and convince myself it has nothing to do with me and I take zero responsibility for what might happen to the guests pecking at at the platter like one-legged seagulls. I often wonder if this is what Mark Zuckerberg feels like when he sees people using Facebook – people just absolutely destroying something that you made once for fun.
Grazing tables are so common these days, I’m not even sure what we served guests before these were around.
What gets to me the most is the hygiene factor; having small ones at my parties was cute but sharing what is essentially a buffet table without the sneeze guards and clean tongs with 200-plus other people is not my ideal way to spend an evening at a 40th birthday party. Yes, I know I am a hypocrite, but sometimes you need to make mistakes to learn from them.
I go out of my way to serve food on plates now, I’ve retired the brown paper and no longer stand dangerously over tables for the “perfect” photo. The grazing table is on its way out. If you’ve seen a grazing table at your Aunty Diane’s third wedding, then it’s totally over and it’s time to thrash the next food fad.
Why not try start your own? Make something truly, utterly incredible to look at, ‘gram, post and get the likes, the follows and the satisfaction – then throw it straight into the bin and order Uber Eats instead.