“It’s delicious!” I said.

“Eh,” replied my boyfriend’s dad. 

He had made one of the best farro dishes I’ve ever had–but he wasn’t satisfied with it.

We’ll set aside the fact that farro is the lowest on the grain totem pole, more likely to be hidden inside a veggie bowl than given the respect of a side dish–even quinoa has better PR.

Regardless, his farro dish was genuinely delicious. The problem wasn’t with the seasoning or texture or creaminess. The problem was with his expectations. 

A few years ago, my boyfriend and I went to dinner with his parents on a trip to Napa. We ate at Ad Hoc, a restaurant from renowned chef Thomas Keller. It’s basically French Laundry without the Michelin stars or $400 price tag.  

During that meal, we had the best buttered farro dish. No one predicted such a knockout from this ancient grain. 

So when he found a Thomas Keller recipe online and went to remake the dish, it didn’t live up to expectations. 

My dad always said disappointment is the difference between expectations and reality. 

And that’s not just a dadism–our expectations are key to our satisfaction. One study found that ratings for prizewinning books significantly dropped after they received an award. No expectations? No problem. High expectations? If this isn’t the novel that makes me laugh, cry, and reconcile with my estranged mother, it’s getting 1 star. 

While the dish in question initially had the benefit of obscurity, it didn’t farro well during the remake.

You can’t eliminate your expectations. But if you’re feeling a bit disappointed, consider whether your expectations might have gotten in the way. There’s no need to grade on a scale.

To being better without expecting Veuve Clicquot and getting André,