The mind (thankfully) is a simplifying machine. It will extract some relevant essence and move on. You are complex, you contain multitudes. But you're also whittled into pithy takeaways, like a baby carrot. Nothing you can do about it.
That's how it felt eating the "Sizzling Steak Platter" at the Flushing Mall. Upon first glance, this looks like something you'd get at Applebee's or T.G.I. Friday's with a side of Bloomin' Onion. It is a steak, with gravy and onions. A side salad and a starch. Check, check, check. What else do you need?
And yet. This is a Sizzling Steak refracted through the Chinese culinary prism, one that has its own opinion of what the key takeaways are and what tastes good. The gravy was cut with what tasted like stir-fry brown sauce, spicy and vaguely fishy. The side starch was ramen (!) with more gravy, strange sweet sauce halfway between duck and tomato sauce, and corn. The iced tea tasted of jasmine. There was a fried egg on bottom, which was either a nod to American steak and eggs, or a nod to Korean bibimbap, or maybe just a universal rule that steak tastes good with egg.
It's funny what people think is your essence. An impersonator might pick up on a jump in your step, a lisp on a certain sound. Caricaturists will define you by a nose or chin. Once a reporter characterized me as "upbeat" and "not like a farmer" which is 100% right if not 100% complete, but I cannot complain.