The questions that need to be asked:
Which fork do I use?
This is a common problem area. Depending on where you eat, you may be provided with numerous flatware for a number of courses which are lurking in your future. Rule of thumb- always work outside, in. The servers should place your silver in the correct order but that is if they are properly trained. At Caterina De Medici, we are told to lay in the silverware including the entree course. Many customers do not understand this concept and will just use what ever silverware they damn well please, which is also acceptable. We are trained to clear and replace with the correct silver at the appropriate time. Sometimes you will arrive to a table, and there will be utensils horizontally, above where your plate would be. These are intended for dessert and an after dinner beverage such as tea or coffee. Truth is, do not be embarrassed when you are not aware of the utensil you should use with each dish, your server is being paid (or paying to learn if a student at the CIA) to help you out and teach you as you enjoy your meal.
Is it polite to ask for salt and pepper?
This is a HUGE deal in my household. My father is the biggest pepper fan I have ever known- although Chris, if asked, would tell you that I am. My father will be a happy man if you remember to put the pepper mill on the table before he asks for it. Everyone in my family races to put the pepper on the table so that he will beam down on them, proud that they remembered his grand mill. As Chris entered our house and he began to cook for our family, and dine with us regularly. He gained the courage to ask my father if in fact every dish needed pepper to be complete. Chris explains that pepper has it's own flavor, while salt maximizes the other flavors on the plate. He jabs me when I add pepper to a soup, because he insists that not all dishes need that flavor- and I have to admit he is right. Pepper can be very over powering. Now the best soup I ever made was a peppery potato soup, but if you had a cream of broccoli soup, would it REALLY need pepper to taste great?
Each meal we have the pleasure of enjoying with my family, we are sure that the pepper mill is on the table. But after we say grace, as my fathers arms reach to grab for the great wooden grinder, someone reminds him- "Dad, please taste it first, it might not need pepper." One day, I swear Christopher is bound to over pepper something just to make a point. Have you ever salted your fries before tasting them? What is the harm in tasting them, having a little faith that the chef wherever you are dining has correctly salted his fries. What happens if the salt you apply is too much because of the salt that is already on your food? I guess the answer is, yes- it is okay to request salt or pepper wherever you may be dining, but please make a point to taste your food first.
How do you deal with 'Chatty Patty's'?
If I was a baker, and I wanted to open a dessert shop, and I went by the name Patty, I would call it, Patty Cake. But none of those things are true. In fact, why do people assume that just because my first name is Patricia, that I enjoy being called Patty. If you every meet a Charles, do you automatically assume he will respond to Chuck? Or how about Robert and Dick? I know not everyone who assumes I go by Patty is aware that my father's name is Pat, and that I will not even understand what they are talking about when they address me by Patty. Anywho, people who talk with their mouth full is an awful habit that should be against the law. It's hard to tell the person across the table that they are offending you by showing you their meal after they have masticated it. But I would say that being aware of your own mouth to food habits is the best way to advocate for swallowing before speaking. If I noticed someone at my table, rudely munching while monologuing, they may be ignorant of their impulsion. Start speaking, excuse your self to take a bite, and chew, and then continue on with your conversation. They might take the hint, or they may not. But it's worth a try.
Why don't girls eat when they are out on a date?
This is the worst of the worst. As a woman, who loves food, it has never crossed my mind to refrain from eating because of what my opposite may think of me. That is one area, where I am never self conscious. If I am going out to eat, and I am going to pay for my meal, or be treated for that matter- I will not abstain from indulging in the best sounding menu item. Whether it be ribs, or lobster, or a juicy burger with mounds of cheese on top. It drives me crazy CRAZY when girls fall into the role of just eating a salad so that the scrawny looking boy across from them will believe that they always eat lettuce and vegetables and nothing more so that maybe when that guy thinks of her- he will think skinny. That is a bunch of BULLogne if you ask me. Aren't women supposed to have a bit of curve to them? At one point, large women were admired because it meant that they had good mothering skills. And wide set hips (which apparently comes from pasta because every time I eat pasta Chris reminds me that it is going straight to my hips) are an indication that a woman will not have trouble bearing and delivering a child. Let me eat my juicy steak! I can remember one instance when Christopher and I dined out, and I ordered the BBQ ribs, and he ordered the salmon- well when the runner brought our food out, it was not a surprise that I was handed the salmon and he received the ribs. And when we mentioned he had mixed them up, he stood there and said- "REALLY?" uhhhem. YES REALLY- I am allowed to eat meat, in fact my body needs meat in order for me to be the little energizer bunny that everyone knows me as. It just erks me when girls resist eating in front of their significant others or prospective s.o's to impress them. Well what happens when you get married, and you have to eat your meals in the bathroom because you cannot explain to your husband of twelve years that you have been lying to him this whole time and you do in fact eat more than stalks of celery and cucumbers. If anyone has an explanation of this, I would be intrigued.
|I ate the heck out of those ribs.|
How are substitutions received in the kitchen?
Most chefs, but not all, hate when someone changes something on their menu. This includes vegan, lacto-ovo, vegetarians-but I'll eat fish, I can eat mushrooms every day except Sunday, gluten frees, etc. These days, who knows anymore if it is an allergy or if it is just a dislike that has turned itself into a 'self diagnosed' allergy. When we make it through the kitchen classes, we are strongly encouraged to try everything that we make. Some of us may not have a taste for certain things, but how can you know unless you try and retry and try again. Taste buds are a funny thing, have you ever burned your tongue? Well your taste buds will take a few days to grow back, and they will probably be new! Do you remember when you were four and refused to eat your Brussels sprouts so your mother made you sit at the table until you plugged your nose and down the hatch they went? And now here you are today, enjoying the sprouts like they are going out of style. Taste buds change with age and often with preparation as well. Now I am not sure what it is about my father's French toast, but he makes it better than anyone else who has ever made me this American delicacy. And I insisted that Chris make my tuna melt last week, because sandwiches just seem to be more organized when he compiles them. Chefs are very high and mighty about the food they prepare, and sometimes rightfully so. I would suggest you try everything as it is, the professionals put a lot of time into planning each menu item as it is. I am not encouraging us all to take the food we hate most and spend a lot of money on it. But if you are dining with a friend and they get something you don't think you will enjoy, ask them if you may taste it, your world could be changed.