INSIDE: DINING PEEVES – The list continues
My mom used to joke that everyone had earaches. She was referring to the people she would see in public places with their heads cocked and a hand over an ear. They were talking on cell phones, but the sight does look like an epidemic of aural infections. Now, she could take notice of what seems like fungi covering ears. Those of course, are the silly and awful looking earpieces that some people now wear so as not to miss a word from their cell phone calls. Who among us is so important that we cannot take the time it takes to lift a cell phone to our ears to answer a call? Those who use the device probably feel some sort of power trip without realizing that when a call is made they actually look deranged. Without the cock of the head and the hand over the ear, they seem to be talking to themselves. If they are so anxious for conversation, maybe they are.
Cell phones come to mind each year as we prepare our Best Chefs issue and as I fume over restaurant pet peeves. People who talk on cell phones while at tables in restaurants are always near the top of the list. Not only are they a bore to whomever they are dining with, but they also tend to talk louder and annoy the rest of us. Besides, since practically everyone carries cell phones now, no one is impressed.
New to the list is something that is male specific: men who wear hats – most often baseball caps – while dining inside. Somewhere in the evolution of society it was deemed that men’s heads should be uncovered while under a roof. That’s the way it is, and to not do so seems like keeping covered for a quick getaway in case a passing woolly mammoth needs to be clubbed.
A perennial on the list has been servers who take away plates too fast, as though to hurry us so that the table can be turned. I have become increasingly militant about this and do not allow my plate to be removed, even if empty, as long as others at the table are still eating. Once the plates start moving, diners become rushed to finish, reminding me of the ROTC drill sergeant who yelled to his troops to “eat now and digest later.”
My top peeve this year is leveled at customers, particularly those who are too damn finicky about their orders. Sure there are medical reasons to moderate a dish. That’s okay, but some people practically redefine a dish. I fear one day hearing someone ordering coq au vin but asking for grilled fish instead of chicken and insisting on no sauce. What’s the point? My advice to those people is to stay home and fix whatever they want, the way they want it. And if someone calls with a dinner invitation, just say they have an earache.