RELIGION, POLITICS AND RESTAURANT REVIEWING
You will get letters, obscene telephone calls, and, if you are lucky, you will be picketed by PETA and other such militants. If you do a telephone call-in show, install the 5-second tape delay for the Ozzy Osbournes out there in nutcase land.
There are two strains of letter writers. One set writes directly to you; the other sends gripes directly to your editor and publisher. I like both. I have collected into a booklet my favorite incoming letters. My alltime favorite begins:
“Dear Darrell Chinowidth (a Commie name if I ever heard it!) You got to be the most rottenest prick in the hole city of Columbus. And thats alot.”
If the writer makes herself known to me, I have a check waiting. I have read the letter in toto to hundreds of audiences, at least to ones who could appreciate the rawnesss.
My second favorite is reprinted here in full scrawl.
|Ahhh, the slings, the slights...my editor handed it to me and said “check this out.” I did. I learned the writer was the only person totally familiar with all the other legitimate newspaper and magazine reviewers in the country. If only she had included her telephone number.|
And then there are the Joe and Josephine Camels out there in R. J. Reynolds country. For decades I supported the right-to-smoke lobby. I just didn’t want the ailing to do it over my food or on my side of the restaurant. One major position was to oppose mandatory legislation banning all smoking in public places. My position was, and is, to let the market place handle the problem. That seems to be the status today.
I sometimes smoke a good cigar after dinner. It is done in my car on the way home. Windows open. Always alone.
In the line of duty when cigar dinners were popular, always in some expensive eatery such as Morton’s Steak Houses, I puffed with the rest of the wheezing attendees. I still think a cigar dinner in large, private, well-ventilated dining room is an acceptable social affair.
The night George Burns died, I was in London on a Michelin search, a hunt only for the Guide’s 3-stars. In preparation for my personal salute, I stopped into the Harrods cigar store. One Cohiba, $14. In the lobby of my hotel, alone, I fired up, with a snifter of Burns’ favorite cognac - at least according to the bartender of Hotel Berkeley. When Burns played London, he stayed at the Berkeley.
I later read that his Hollywood pals joked about "those cigars cutting his life short." Burns died at age 100 and didn’t get to fill his contract to play London’s Palladium on his 100th birthday. Blame those Dutch Masters he smoked by the box.
So, I leave you with the following from an upset reader.