Olive Garden Is Now Serving Tapas. Wait, what?

I’ve been to Olive Garden once.

That is both true and mean.

I found the vast amounts of food ladled onto the plates not dissimilar to Babette’s Feast, if Babette had been born in that part of Italy known as Defester, Alabama.

The only problem with the food is that it didn’t taste of food. Or at least of the kinds of things that I associated at the time with food.

Again, that is both true and mean.

I suppose that if you imagine yourself as a steam engine and the chefs at Olive Garden as Casey Jones, then it would have all made sense.

But it didn’t.

It seems that I am not alone in having deserted this culinary Garden of Gethsemane.

Sales at Olive Garden have been flagging. So much so that the people behind it — who surely must have vast behinds if they eat there regularly — have decided to make the menu more alluring.

Olive Garden is offering tapas.

Please, don’t take my word for it. It’s there in bloated black and white in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Yes, this is the same publication that decided I was the brains behind pornography on Google Glass.

But, in both cases, it seems to be telling the truth.

This is the Olive Garden I know.

This is the Olive Garden I know.

Olive Garden is so desperate to attract customers who are still alive and able to play video games that it is offering Parmesan asparagus and grilled chicken tapas.

Naturally, the suspicion of some will be that these tapas won’t taste like tapas. Because they might think that Olive Garden’s food doesn’t taste like food.

But the truth seems to be that younger generations don’t wish to stuff their faces to within inches of a coronary.

They just want a bite or two. And, presumably, vast vats of liquor that will stupefy them into believing that they are not at Olive Garden.

I am disturbed that these small plates are being referred to as tapas. I thought Olive Garden was striving for a vaguely Italian adventure.

Tapas is so very Spanish.

Oh, but it’s all over there in Mediterrania, so why worry?

What does worry me is one other explanation for this sudden influx of tapas-forward thinking.

One Olive Garden general manager told Bloomberg Businessweek that tapas — being merely bite-sized — allow young people to text and eat at the same time.

Is this what we’ve come to? Designing dishes to go well with the cell phone?

Tragedy comes in many forms, but it always comes.

Some (small) part of me is tempted to go to Olive Garden to try its tiny bites and see if they are edifying — or at least inspire me to tweet my overwhelming pleasure.

I am just not sure that part of me is big enough to make me drive down to an Olive Garden to find out.