Where I write

Where I write

June 8, 2016

The Good Old Days of the Restaurant Business

     I was watching a black and white comedy sitcom from the early
1960s the other night after work. The dialogue was corny and the plot trite, though the living room set with the giant lamps, glass ash trays and low couches, reminded me of my childhood and that was fun. I was about to turn the channel, when one of the characters, an elderly uncle from "the old country" talked about sharing some goat cheese he brought over on the boat with him. The man and woman hosting the uncle were aghast. They exchanged embarrassed glances and looked ashamed. It was obvious they thought their uncle was out of touch with the modern times. 

   Now if the uncle had gotten as excited about this miracle of the 1960s, he would have been met with approval from his relatives. Velveeta cheese.
 Sure it always worried me why I didn't need to keep it refrigerated, but it lasted forever. Economical.  Easy to slice and melt. So creamy. Fast forward to 2016. I suspect people today hide the fact that they even buy the stuff, burying the Velveeta cheese beneath chunks of goat cheese in their shopping carts. It's so not cool. And it's equally not hip to say one does not like goat cheese. I don't like goat cheese. I am not hip. There I admitted it. 
   It's impossible to go to a resturant today and not find goat cheese on the menu. And there are other dining trends I don't find appealing. Kale doesn't interest me, and I don't like beets.  Every menu today includes the red, orange and, yes even purple, root vegetable. In one word. Yuck. 
   As a kid, beets were what my grandma liked on Thanksgiving. My mother put out a special bowl for her. Speaking of trendy,  I don't like the trend of uncomfortable chairs at restaurants. Today restaurants are furnished, as my English professor Dr. Haley once said about another professor, "with style over substance." Everything is metal. Who besides a masochist enjoys sitting on metal? 
      The other day my friend, Tracy, and I went out to eat. By the end of our meal my back was killing me. Her shoulder hurt, likely from the position of her back.  I don't have a back problem, but I felt as if I was going to suffer from one after our meal. Tracy and I love to gab, more than we like to write, but we didn't stick around long after finishing eating.  The chairs in restaurants have become like small torture devices, and maybe that's what restaurants want, to move people in and move them out.  No lingering.
    Now here's a place to linger. Trouble is you need a time machine back to 1970.  Call me ancient, but I like comfort. My bones appreciate softness. They rebel against hard metal. I could sleep in that deep, dark booth.  Even the plump bar stools look inviting. It looks quiet, too, a resturant  one could actually converse with a dinner companion. Booths are so not 2016. It's a shame.
    I have another question. Why, please, tell me why, people like open kitchens? What enjoyment is there in looking at  stainless steel appliances. Do people go to construction sights and watch workers dig holes? Do crowds visit hospitals to watch a surgeon remove a kidney?  I don't get it. And it's loud. I don't need clattering of dishes, flames shooting from pans, and conversations between chefs. It's intrusive. Unless I'm sitting in a friend's kitchen, as I sat one summer day in my friend Stella's kitchen and watched her roll out dough and make a blueberry lavender pie, I'm not interested. I don't need to watch people earn a living.  By the way, Stella is as gifted as making a pie as writing a poem.
    Yes. No kitchen in sight in this resturant. No televisions, either. A resturant manager said to me once that an open kitchen "creates drama." We get enough drama in the national news and in our lives.   It would take time to find the kitchen in this resturant, and that's fine with me if I never found the kitchen. I just want to eat the good food that it produced. Let the employees do their jobs without an audience. 
    One of my fellow servers got a job at a hip new resturant in town.  Everyone there has tattoos and piercings. He said this with pride. I don't need a server with a ring in her nose or tattoos of Chinese symbols on her arms to make a meal taste delicious.  My friend Gloria's mother was a server, and she wore a crisp black dress with nylons and white apron. Neat and clean. She didn't look as if she wanted to be a drummer in a rock band. I get it. Tattoos and piercings are popular, but knowing my server will have arms that have been colored with a tiny needle, does not inspire me to rush to try out a new resturant. 

   All of the above  makes me sound as if I'm a cranky old server. Maybe I am. I will end with a modern trend I really appreciate lest you think I'm totally stuck in 1977.
     Wine has really improved. In the old days we served just three types, Chablis, Burgundy or Rose. In carafes. It was cheap. And it tasted cheap. Now we have extensive wine lists. I drink wine that comes everywhere from the coast of California to the wilds of Australia. Oh and I like tofu. See. I'm not THAT old fashioned. But don't try to sell me on beets. Ain't happening. 

No comments: