Waiter Diligence

Wow, what a difference there is from one waiter to another! Today we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants and were surprised at how crowded it was. Usually we arrive at this particular location at “off” hours, so it’s never been as busy as it was today right at the noon hour.

We agreed that we’d try to keep things simple and not make any unusual (for us) requests on our orders. I chose the grilled chicken with mixed vegetables, remembering to request “no black pepper on anything, please.” The waiter duly recorded my order AND my request. Not every waiter bothers, by the way, to record the “no pepper” request.

Soon he was back to tell me that they prepare a huge batch of mixed vegetables in advance of the lunch rush, so they were all seasoned with pepper. We were sitting at a booth with a low wall on the side where the table was attached, and he could have merely leaned over the wall to talk to us. Instead, he came all the way around to our back-corner table to tell me this. So I changed my veggie order to broccoli, which is not pre-seasoned.

Not much later, Phil was back to tell me the kitchen couldn’t guarantee my grilled chicken would be pepper-free, since everything on the grill is peppered. So I changed my order to shrimp, which was the same price and the item I’d almost ordered in the first place.

Meanwhile, Phil, our waiter, was scurrying to serve several other tables around us. Despite having to change the order twice, in the middle of a very busy lunch rush, our food arrived promptly and was excellent.

Phil could have saved himself some steps if he’d known in advance what the various dishes included and how they were prepared, but since he didn’t, I give him credit for expending the energy to make sure I was satisfied.

Thank you, Phil!

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Eat Pray Love

I haven’t seen it yet, nor read the book. Wish I had the time! I understand it’s about a woman taking a journey of self-discovery after some traumatic life events.

It’s wonderful that she found answers on her journey. She went to some pretty exotic places. If my life fell apart, I’m sure I couldn’t financially afford to travel past my back yard.

Is it possible to make that self-discovery journey without leaving home? For some, possibly not. For others, I’m sure it is possible. I hope I’m one of them.

Like countless others, I’ve had many moments of self-discovery throughout my life.

I’ve learned about eating, my habits good and bad, my attitude toward food, its power or lack therof over me.

I daily learn more about prayer. It’s something we can do wherever we are, whenever we need to and should do even when we don’t need to.

I think Love is part of prayer. Since the Bible defines God as LOVE, aren’t we praying when we love unselfishly? Christians are taught to love God, to love humanity, to love our neighbors, our enemies, and yes, love ourselves.

As we eat, pray and love, our journey of self-discovery dontinues. How blessed we are to have such opportunities!

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No Pepper, Please

Are they teaching something in chef schools these days about putting black pepper on everything they cook? It’s rare to find a restaurant steak that hasn’t been coated in coarse-ground black pepper. They put it on vegetables, even corn on the cob. Just when you think you’re safe ordering clam chowder or a salad, out it comes with pepper on it. There’s even a restaurant that serves pepper bread.

 When I ask for no black pepper, I sometimes get surprised reactions from servers and have even had cooks come out and ask why I don’t want their pepper-coated food. Some restaurants are so strict on recipes that the cooks don’t know how to cook without pepper. A steak specialty restaurant once served me steak so salty I could barely eat it. When I asked the server if it was supposed to be so salty she said the chef didn’t know what else to do with it when my order came in for no pepper.

 You’d think we’d remember something that important, but neither I nor my family consistently remembers to request “no black pepper on anything” when I place a restaurant order. It’s not that I’m against using black pepper, I just don’t want to taste it. It burns my tongue and if I keep eating it, my lips burn, too, and keep burning for hours afterwards. I’ve never been tested for a black pepper allergy and I don’t swell up or break out or exhibit any other allergy symptoms, I just don’t like the stuff.

 Most chefs use tobacco. Maybe that’s why they insist on cooking with pepper. They can no longer appreciate the subtle flavors of less-seasoned food. Something else I’ve never been tested for is taste sensitivity, but some of my friends think I’m a “super-taster.” I have no idea if that goes along with pepper aversion, but I do find I appreciate delicate flavors more that many people do. I don’t like bland, but come on, chefs of the world, there have to be better ways to serve food than to pour on the pepper.

 Although I’m calling this blog “No Black Pepper,” I don’t expect to discuss only that condiment. We pepper our lives with all kinds of seasonings, many having nothing to do with dining. I relish the opportunity to discuss my preference for No Black Pepper.

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