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  1. Here's an article today from Slate about judging a restaurant from the outside. Since it's about food I clicked (bait: accepted!) and it was...fine. The usual tips (curated menu, attention to provenance, matching the restaurant decor/location to mission/theme, long lines, people of the same presented ethnicity eating there, etc.) , which more food-centric folks would already be well familiar with, resonated, albeit weakly because <shrug> we already know all this! But there was also a judgy section that bugged me - not about restaurants, but diners: These initial quick judgments usually take a few seconds, at which point we walk over to the posted menu and study it like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s what you don’t want to see: everything. This isn’t a food court, and while figuring out what you want to do in life is often a long journey for people, restaurants should have this decided far before the menu is printed. “When it’s too cross-cultural, when it’s too all over the place, that’s an issue. There’s a restaurant I’m thinking of right now that has fettucine Alfredo with your choice of shrimp, chicken, or salmon. You’re like, ‘OK, that’s not a good sign,’ ” says Stowell. “That’s the way people used to eat in the ’80s: They would offer everything for everybody, and let them combine it how they want. But we’ve gone away from that and more toward, ‘We’re going to guide you to what’s good.’ If you’re everything for everybody you’re usually nothing for nobody.” Emphasis mine, on the lines I thought were unnecessarily reductive. I know a lot of these people!! They simply don't care about food as much as me, and derive much more of their dining utility from getting things just their way on a (perhaps a rare) night out. Which is fine, and it doesn't necessarily (but can, and that is also fine!) mean that they don't want high-quality food, or ambiance, or overall experience! And besides, who, exactly, is the audience for an article about how to pick a restaurant? People who care a lot about picking a restaurant will already know these very general guidelines or have their own, much more relevant metrics, so those that could most benefit from learning about these ideas to improve their dining experience are likely the very people being (gently, I concede) mocked as being decades out of touch. Anyway, I probably just wanted to pontificate this morning, but this section of the article really rubbed me the wrong way. Since I've gotten older, and moved to a more conservative area, and become a parent, etc., I've met and dined with many more types of people (than my City-dwelling, free-wheeling, proto-hipster, semi-rabid insistent days on authenticity and excellence), with lots more (and valid) dining preferences. I'm much more viscerally aware that more/most of America (especially away from the coasts) is occupied by people who, while more aware of food culture than in the pre-Food Network and Insta days, simply don't give food as much head space as me and are happiest when they can get exactly what they want, when they want. Holding their preferences in contempt is pointless and mean, and these days more than ever, I think, every kindness counts. (I'm aware that I am more sensitive to this perhaps perceived issue because I lost a friend back in the day after a meal at a wonderful DC restaurant during which I was, mostly unwittingly, a total a** about her food choices and naiveté, and I really wish I could go back and smack 20something me for being a jerk.)
  2. Like this one, for example. OUR NIGHTLY MENU / EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS FOR EIGHT COURSES appropriate beverages to pair / forty-five dollars It has widespread application into other areas of life and commerce: YOUR TRANSMISSION REPAIR HAS COME OUT TO FOUR-THOUSAND, THREE-HUNDRED, EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS AND SIXTY CENTS recommended chassis mounting, balance, and observation, in addition to our certified mechanics yanking it to Maxim while inspecting your dipstick / seven-hundred fifty-three dollars YOUR APPRECIATION FOR OUR FIRM SELLING YOUR HOME WILL BE REFLECTED BY A SIX-PERCENT COMMISSION WHICH RESULTS IN COMPENSATION OF FORTY-TWO THOUSAND, FIVE-HUNDRED EIGHTY-TWO DOLLARS. copies of the sales contract can be made available / sixteen dollars per page
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