Where I write

Where I write

February 20, 2012

My How Things Have Changed!

Things were so much simpler in the restaurant business when I first became a server. This was a very long time ago, before the term server was invented. We were called waitresses and waiters. In the old days, we handed people a menu and they would order an item as it was listed on the menu. No changes. My dining customers would eat the food without input on how it should have been prepared, without questioning what ocean the salmon came from, without wondering if the greens were organic. (Maybe everything back then was already organic.) No one knew or cared. People were happy just to eat out!

Today people want to create their own menus. They want to do it away from home. If the menu says it comes with cole slaw, they want potato salad. If the fish is fried, they want it grilled. They just don't want to ask the cook to change the menu. They expect! I blame all those cooking shows on TV these days. No one questioned Julia Child. Now every channel has a cooking show. No one is really cooking at home. Everyone is too busy. Instead, they go to restaurants and tell chefs how to cook. I feel for the "chefs" of today. (We use to call them cooks). They go to fancy culinary schools, get deep in debt with school loans, and then have to prepare dishes for people who don't trust they know what ingredients mix best with other ingredients, how best to prepare a dish. Why even bother go to culinary school especially when chain resturants are coming out with standard menus that look like this:

This way you can go to a restaurant, say Cheesecake Factory or Applebees, in Atlanta, Georgia  or Anchorage, Alaska and you will find the same items on the menu. This might take the guess work out of ordering, no surprise what will come on your plate, but it also removes the creativity of the restaurant or chef. But the pictures are pretty!
When I first tied an apron around my waist, we served two kinds of wine. Burgundy or Chablis. People did not ask for details about where the wine came from.  They didn't know or care. People were happy just to drink wine out of a carafe. No fancy presentation of overpriced wine at the table, no ritual for pouring, no tasting, just put the carafe on the table and pour. We had maybe one or two beers on tap, Bud or Miller. Now we have dozens of wines, dozens of beers, and people want tastes and details. What hasn't changed is the affect liqour has on people. People still get drunk the same, act just as dumb, if they drink too much whether drinking a cheap Chablis from who knows where or a Chardonnay from France.
I respect people who have food allergies. I make sure to carefully check the ingredients of food I'm serving as I don't want to be the cause of someone, say,not being able to breathe. There goes my tip! Seriously, I understand we all have different food intolerances in 2012. However, where were all these food allergies in 1975 when I first started in the resturant business? I was raised by depression-era parents who said I must eat everything on my plate. It was required. I waited in the early days on people raised the same way, by depression-era parents. It's a different world. Now adults come with all sorts of reactions to food and I can't help wonder did people have all these gluten and lactose intolerance problems in the old days? I'm just asking.

Finally, I have to laugh when I hear the term "mixologist". Bar keep is the real word. They keep the people at the bar happy by serving drinks like those pictured above which my friend and I had on my birthday. The one on the left is an old fashioned and the right a mojito. It doesn't take a mixologist to know how to make either of these, you could do it at home. One of the best bartenders I ever worked with was named Buster. He had gray hair, a sweet smile, wore a white dress shirt, a black bow tie, and could make a wicked whiskey and coke. And he was nice. That's all that really matters. I'd rather have that any day than a drink served by a snooty guy with a tight black shirt (aren't bartenders always in black these days) who calls himself a mixologist. But then, I'm as old fashioned as the drink.


Rita A. said...

Oh for the Good Ol' Days.
Actually the term "mixologist" was a term used for bartenders in the 1800s. And sosmebody thought they were coming up with something unique.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Susanne, I think it might be kind of funny to give some asshole customer some food they are allergic to! Love to see someone like a Newt Gingrich unable to breath.....


Anonymous said...

I've always laughed at "mixologist" too - what a ridiculous term!

I've never been one to change something on the menu. Maybe I'm old school in that regard. I eat out so I don't have to think about what goes on the plate, I just have to eat it!

Nicole said...

Mixologist, sandwich artist, removal waste specialist they are all terms we use to make ourselves sound better. Cut the crap, your a bartender. I had a regular tell me he'd rather get my B plus drink made for him in 2 minutes with my humor than my "mixologist" coworkers A minus drind in 7 minutes with no personality any day. Thought that was pretty spot on.

SunsetCindi said...

So are we wordologists?