Restaurateurs have to take their lumps. At least that is their timid
belief. Privately, every operator, every server, has a terrorist tale about
customers who should eat elsewhere. Too many practice that old market place
chestnut - the customer is always right.
• Militant smokers who pick fights with restaurant
owners required to abide by the increasing proliferation of laws banning
smoking in public venues. Read the papers. Get with the program. Kill
• Nonsmokers who insist on dining in eateries that permit, sometimes
encourage smokers. Take a trip elsewhere.
• Overnight experts: Food writer Terry Libby, who has worked the food beat from waitress to restaurant reviewer to cook book author, targets
tableside whiners. She has their number: “I get so tired of ethnic gripes.
Another annoying character is the 'authenticity' bickerer...it goes like
this: 'I've been to Mexico (usually on one of those Cincinnati-to-Cancun
package trips) and this is NOT an authentic taco.'” Or, “this is not
authentic Italian food...I'm from Cleveland and I know.'” She finds such
comments “arrogant, petty and provincial.'”
• Ethnic diners who must abide by their religious dictates, but insist on frequenting places
not equipped to digress from a set-in-stone menu that may offend. Eat home
cooking, or spoon up from the melting pot.
• Militant vegans who demand all public eateries conform to their demands. Example: PETA followers who picket places serving baby veal. Bite me.
• Parents of unruly children in restaurant settings not conducive to such clientele, such as bars with limited or no children's menu. Shop McDonald's.
• The Maalox family: Dad, mother, 3.2 children, and two neighbors,
each telling the waiter to convey recipe changes to the chef; have him adjust
every set recipe to their specifications, such as omit walnuts from a dessert
that was prepped in advance, or no salt in the vegetable soup. Open the
Maalox Cafe. Dine alone.
• Ethnics such as Muslims, Hindus, teetotalling Baptists campaigning
against swizzle sticks, Catholics demanding fried (vegetable oil only) perch
on Fridays, all expecting a national chain eatery to cater to their culture
dictates; those of Jewish faith questioning every menu item as to whether it
is Kosher; militant vegetarians demanding waiter replies as to whether
a menu dish might have taints of a meat stock; and patrons who abide by their
diet doctor's prescription that advises against specific food items. Get back
to home cooking.
What we have here is a failure to assimilate.
What we face in this Melting Pot culture that grows daily with many
nationalities is a pot that isn't melting. In reality, if I am invited to
your house for dinner, you cook according to my culinary restrictions, or
My position is that this country has such a vast and diverse food
culture, one with all ethnics represented, that anyone with food variables
based on religion, health, politics or ethnicity should search out a place
fitting their requirements. This country serves those who are
hunters and gatherers.
I may be the only food writer who feels sorry for McDonald's.
Recall the woman who ordered to-go coffee through a drive-thru window and
then spilled it in her lap. She sued and won a huge settlement from
McDonald's recently doled out $10 million to Hindu groups to settle
lawsuits filed against the chain for “mislabeling” french fries and hash
browns. Ten big ones is about 10 minutes income for this multi-national success story. For flavor the well-identified red meat chain had used “essence of beef” to go along with tasteless vegetable oil. Big Mac issued
an apology to both Hindus and vegetarians and posted it on their Web site. My
suggestion to Mac: Be advised McDonald's core product continues to be red
meat. Cow. Stick to your meat cleavers.