So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Monthly Archives: November 2009

Out of the box idea for waiters with extensive wine lists

If you work in a restaurant that has an extensive wine list, you might consider starting an in-house “wine club”. Waiters can chip in X-amount each “meeting” to purchase several wines off of the list for comparison tasting. You might be able to buy the bottles directly from your own stock at cost, but this could also be against local regulations, so this is something that you’ll have to check out with your management.

It doesn’t have to be a formal thing. But if you get a few waiters together who have the interest in trying as many wines off of the list as you can, you work your way through a lot of the list at little cost to each person. Remember, this is going to be a tasting thing, so even a $100 bottle (a $200 – 250 wine list price in most restaurants) split between 10 people is still just $10. A third/fourth of a glass of something in that price range is a bargain. And how often are you going to get the chance to taste something like that? And think about doing three or four $30 bottles ($75 – $90 wine list price). That would be a nice, informative tasting for a few bucks, especially if you stay in a certain category or flight.

The problem with doing this is just doing it. It’s hard to get people together with the schedules that we all work, and we waiters can be notoriously flighty as well. You have to be careful doing it on a day where people will be working afterward. You have to make sure that on days like this, it doesn’t degenerate into a drink fest. If you can convince your management that you will treat it as their normal tastings done during pre-shift, you’ll have a better chance of getting management’s blessing and you might even get management to help out with an occasional bottle that they were planning on using for tasting anyway.

You don’t want to get too structured with this. Stay flexible. Just figure out which wines you want to taste, make sure that you can get them either from the restaurant or from a retailer (yes, you’ll pay more but the cost is still spread out over multiple people).  Then you simply find out how many people can commit to coming, divide the cost by that number and get the money. The closer you do this to each session, the better chance you’ll have to avoid people who pre-pay but then don’t show and want their money back. In fact, this should be part of the “agreement” – once you’ve paid, it’s your responsibility to show.

You don’t have to have a set number of people. In fact, any waiter of legal age should be able to “opt-in” anytime they want. The more people who get involved each time, the lower the costs and the more different wines you can taste. You might even do a really high-end wine every once in a while. I know I would gladly pay $20 to taste a recent vintage Latour or Shafer Hillside select. Those are wines that few waiters ever get to taste and tasting wines of that caliber give another frame of reference.

Heck, if it’s successful, you might even get your liquor reps to occasionally throw in wines of their own portfolio.

It’s worth thinking about doing, especially if you’re serious about selling wine. Even if you only make it happen a few times a year, that’s that many more bottles that you’ll get to taste.

End of the month post

Well cats and kittens, it’s time to remind you that at the end of the month, the smart waiter takes a really close look at the uniform. Are the shoes on their last legs and are your pants cuffs starting to fray? How about those shirt collars – piling and stained from the sweat of your labors?

Now’s the time to cast a critical eye and renew your uniform so that you can look the best that you can – crisp and professional.

And now is the time to start setting next month’s goals. As we are approaching the end of the year, you should start working up more global goals for next year, whether it be not every waiting tables again and getting out at any cost, to increasing your earnings by X-amount or learning more about wine and spirits. Perhaps it might be working toward a higher-end restaurant. If you focus your goals to this, it can be achieved, even in these economic times. But you have to put the work in. Just remember, you have another year’s experience under your belt. That won’t hurt.

Treat the job as any professional would and you’ll go a long way.

Gifts for waiters – pt. 4

Get access to your favorite waiter’s wine list where he or she works.

Establish a dollar amount that you want to spend for a gift.

Let’s say that you want to give them a $100 gift. Either buy multiple bottles whose retail prices total that amount, or buy one bottle that equals that amount. The first way gives them exposure to more of their wine list, bottles that they might not ever get to sample, and the latter gives them exposure one really nice bottle that they are unlikely to be able to try.

When you put together the gift package, a nice touch would be a description of the wine, taken either from the winemaker’s website’s tech sheet, or, even better, Wine Spectator’s capsule review. Wine Spectator has some reviews available on-line without a subscription, so you might be lucky and the wine might be reviewed. Failing that, you could always Google the name and you might come up with somebody’s review. If you do, copy it and print it up and paste it to a card which you enclose with the bottle/s.

Another nice touch would be providing a wine-appropriate Riedel glass for each wine. This will drive up the price of the gift, so calculate this into the amount that you want to spend. Riedels come in different price categories and each is specifically and scientifically designed for the type of wine. They start at about $8 a stem and go up to $100 a stem. Let’s say that you decide to go the high-end bottle route and you have $150 to spend, you might want to cap your bottle price at $50 and go with a glass from the Sommelier line. This is a very impressive glass, especially if you are getting a red wine glass. The “Bordeaux Grand Cru” is a huge hand-blown work of art. It’s a 30 oz. glass and it will set you back $100. Obviously, this would be a great gift on its own as well.

Riedel has a nice series for much less, the Vinum. You can get two glasses for around $60 (smaller glasses like Riesling or Chardonnay glasses are cheaper in both series). It’s a smaller, more manageable glass than the Grand Cru, more of an everyday glass (the Grand Cru is very fragile due to its size). If you are really on a budget, or want to put more of your gift money into the wine, Riedel has an even cheaper series, the Ouverture, which runs about $8 – $10 a glass. They are still better than most average glasses out there.

Spiegelau is another maker of nice crystal. They usually run a little less than Riedel but offer similar quality.

both brands have a new category of glass, the “tumbler”. Basically, it’s a flat-bottomed stemless wine glass. I actually have a set of these and they’re pretty cool. They’re good for drinking wine on the sofa. You can actually put them on the armrest, which you can’t really do safely with a stem.

There’s always the decanter route as well. A nice decanter can be a work of art. If you go to Amazon and search for decanters, you’ll see a wide variety, not only in style and shape, but in price as well. Obviously, Riedels can be expensive, but they too have some affordable models. Plan to spend anywhere from around $30 up to $150. I wouldn’t spend any less on a decanter sight unseen because you  really can’t be sure of the quality. Even at $30, you can get a decent quality lead crystal decanter.

Here’s one from Riedel for between $30 – $40. It’s a good visual example of what Riedel’s all about. It doesn’t look all swoopy and modern, in fact, it looks sort of ordinary and ungainly. Well, there’s a purpose to this. It’s a decanter designed for Burgundies (Pinot Noir). Pinots are notoriously fragile and normally don’t need to be decanted at all. A lot of aeration can actually do them harm. Aeration is the exposure to air that some big wines like Cabernet Sauvignon need to go from the bottle to consumption. This decanter minimizes this exposure by being tall and narrow, unlike other decanters which generally get very broad at the bottom to expose more of the wine to oxygen.

If your waiter friend actually keeps a lot of wine at home, something like this fancy wine opener from Metrokane, the Rabbit, might be just what the doctor ordered:

Runs about $50. 

Also, you can go the tabletop route with something like this “”Quest Products Connoisseur Vintner’s Reserve Tabletop Wine Opener, which runs in the $70 price range:

Of course, all of this assumes that your waiter friend drinks wine. You wouldn’t want to consider these gifts to anyone in recovery, now would you?

Gifts for Waiters, Pt. 3

These fall under the “nice to have” category.

These days, few waiters are called upon to light cigarettes and cigars. In the old days, a lighter was an indispensible tool that every waiter carried. Even today, it’s considered a mandatory tool if only to light a candle on a birthday or anniversary dessert. Most waiters simply buy a Bic or other disposable lighter, but a nice refillable lighter is still considered a stylish gift. I’ve always like the Colibri brand and they have a wide variety of nice lighters. We’ll start with a pricey lighter, the appropriately named “Tonino Lamborghini”. Here’s one that will remind you of a Miura from the ’60s, with its striking green color (and it’s $150 retail price):

 

 

 

 

Obviously, this is for those with deep pockets and champagne tastes.

Here’s the art deco/prairie style Aspire (for a more modest retail of $59):

For the sporty, outdoorsy type, here’s a rubberized yellow slicker colored “Jet 2”:

And, if you want to emphasize the “culinary” theme, here’s a flask-inspired model that’s priced right, the well-named “Flask (at $34.95):

Obviously, you can find cheaper lighters just about anywhere. Feel free to shop around. But I really like the Colibri brand. They are well-made and stylish. You can get single, double or even triple flamed models (the later great for the cigar smoker, but not necessary for the waiter). And you can find them at selected retail establishments at a discount.

Along the same line is the increasingly obsolete cigar accessory. They are obviously not obsolete for cigar smokers per se, but most waiters now work in smoke-free environments. If you know a waiter who works in an establishment like a private club or country club where smoking lounges are still found, you might consider something like this:

This is a well-made model, far better than the cheap plastic ones that you can pick up in cigar shops for $5. This one will set you back $24.95 retail.

Finally, we have the humble crumber. Most crumbers are aluminum metal affairs, but some are made of stainless steel (these hold up better). Some are painted, some are distributed with logos, some are bare metal. They vary in thickness. In many restaurants, especially those with tablecloths, they are a required item. They look something like this:

The thing about crumbers is that they are easily bent or lost and the pocket clips tend to fall off. They are pretty hard to find locally so waiters are always in need of extras. They usually cost between $1 and $3, although they are often given as liquor company promos with logos of famous wineries. This isn’t much more than a stocking stuffer type gift, and it should be given in quantity (5 is a good stock for a waiter to have available). Here’s a good source for them:

http://barsupplies.com/table-crumber-stainless-steel-p-2162.html?osCsid=r9tapme50soje2h66d5ub38rq2

But if you want to go a bit further, you might offer them this:

As you can see, it’s a variation on the Bissel manual sweeper that every waiter is familiar with. It’s bulky but it’s priced at a reasonable $6.95. I’ve never used one, so I can’t vouch for how well it works, so gifter beware!

http://crumbsweepers.com/index4.php

Here’s a more upscale and higher-priced version:

This will set you back $19.95 here:

http://www.thehomemarketplace.com/HomeMarketPlace/Shopping/ProductDetail.aspx?CID=Keep+It+Clean&SCID=Keep+It+Clean+Kitchen&ProductID=0000101371&SourceCode=50509000002&mr:referralID=26adacb0-dc49-11de-9b2c-000423bb4e79

And even more upscale at $36.33:

http://www.wasserstrom.com/restaurant-supplies-equipment/Product_442314?srccode=cii_9324560&cpncode=25-19250978-2

So, I hope that this gives you more ideas for a holiday gift for the waiter in your life.

Two books on waiting tables

These aren’t formal reviews because I never review a book that I don’t already own. This shouldn’t even be considered a recommendation per se because, once again, I haven’t had the pleasure to personally check them out.

Paul Paz runs a site called “WaitersWorld.com”, a clearinghouse for waiter resources, including a news area and a forum.  It has been around for a long time and is part of  WaitersWorld, a commercial training program utilized for staff training. Paz has been in the field for 30 years (next year) and conducts seminars and training programs.

Here’s is the most admirable mission statement:

The mission of WaitersWorld is to elevate the status of waiters in America to a professional career level. by craft is a career of choice offering unlimited opportunity! http://www.WaitersWorld.com is designed to offer terrific tools and training; to give waitstaff the opportunity to network with other professional waiters and hospitality peers around the world. Above all, WaitersWorld aims to serve other professional waiters all over the world by providing current information to achieve professional, personal, and financial success!

Obviously, this dovetails with my own desire to bring professionalism into the job of waiting tables, whether the waiter works at a meat and three or in a high-end establishment.

Paz has co-written a book called Service At Its Best: Waiter-Waitress Training: A Guide to Becoming a Professional Server. It’s published by Prentice-Hall (Pearson Educational) and the ISBN is 0-13-092626-4.
The price is $65.

Bernard Martinage was trained in France and has taught at the Culinary Institute of America, specializing in the service aspects of the restaurant. He is the founder of The Federation of Dining Room Professionals, another training organization that focuses on certification of food service standards.  http://www.fdrp.com/

He has written The Professional Service Guide, published by his organization. The ISBN is 10: 0972039902. the cost is $85 and if you join the organization, they’ll sell it to you for $65.

In addition to the two main books mentioned, here are some adjuncts:

Martinage has written what I presume to be a companion volume, Dining Room Associate Student Workbook: Third Edition (Vol. 1), published by ClearSpace. The ISBN is 10: 1448681294 and the cost at Amazon.com is $49.

He also has written Associate Handbook: Certification Manual (Vol. 1), published by the FDRP, ISBN 10: 0979104998, priced at $79 at Amazon.com. Presumably, a discount is available for both books for Federation members. But I don’t see any of these additionalbooks at their website.

Dining Room Apprentice Student Workbook (Volume 1), published by CreateSpace, ISBN-10: 1448681294 is a book with the same ISBN as the “Dining Room Associate” book, so I presume that it’s the same volume, only retitled.

Obviously these books are designed to be textbooks and aren’t cheap. I assume that there’s a lot of information about the art of hospitality, but, as I said, I haven’t seen any of these works. If the authors wish to send me review copies, I’ll be happy to review them here.

I am hesitant to recommend them as “gifts”. I’m not sure if this might send an unintended message to the recipient about the level of their service. Even if my own book ever gets finished and published, I doubt that I would recommend it as a gift for that very reason (letting a waiter in your life know about this site isn’t out-of-bounds since the recommendation can be phrased as “Here’s an interesting site that you might enjoy” sort of thing). And, of course, there’s the price thing. These aren’t cheap books.

I welcome books that promote professionalism in the industry and I will be striving to promote the same ideals myself if and when my book is completed. My goal is to provide an accessable source of information to everyone working as a waiter, and part of that accessibility is to make it affordable and available in the local bookstore. Based on the interest that I have seen in the first 9 months of this site, I think that there’s definitely a hunger for self-improvement. As I approach the 15,000 views per month level, I’m betting that there’s a place for a more informal guide. There are various books out there, some not much more than pamphlets, but you really have to seek them out and it’s hard to judge content based on an internet listing. It’s also hard to determine the relevancy to the waiter toiling in the mall. I hope to fill that niche one day.

I will be adding links to both authors in by blogroll and I hope that everyone will check them out. Paz’s site in particular has a lot of “free” information about the art of waiting tables, while Martinage’s site is pretty much commercial only.

Gifts for waiters – pt. 2

Books.

Yes, I said books.

But not just any books.

You have to calibrate the type of book with your favorite waiter. If your waiter friend works at Applebees, they might not need a huge wine book. If you are only a casual friend who’s giving a small gift, you might not want to spend $30 for a really nice book, but you still want to find them something useful. And if you know that your particular waiter is a foodie, it makes it easier to choose a book that might pique his or her interest.

So I’m going to break this down into different categories. Almost everything you see here has been the subject of a short review right here on SYWTBAW. Just plug the name in and see a picture of the cover, snatch the ISBN and read a bit about the book.

Stocking Stuffer/Secret Santa/Casual acquaintance. These books are fairly inexpensive and useful in the day-to-day world of a waiter, no matter what kind of restaurant they work in:

The Food Lover’s Companion – Sharon Tyler Herbst – compact and comprehensive dictionary of culinary terms and ingredients.

Waiter Rant – The Waiter – now out in paperback, every waiter will appreciate this great collection of “stories from the front”.

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain – it’s possible that your waiter friend already has this one, or has at least read it. An inside glimpse into the making of a chef and how restaurants really work. Long available in paperback.

Books for waiters with culinary pretensions. Some are pricey in any format:

Larousse Gastronomique – Considered a foundation book for foodies, chefs and anyone with an intense interest in classic cuisine.

The French Laundry Cookbook and Bouchon  – Thomas Keller – A pair of lavishly illustrated books that achieve the remarkable – equally at home on the coffee table or the prep table.

Jeremiah Tower Cooks – Jeremiah Tower – Another chef-written book, penned by a pioneer in modern American cuisine. Many of the recipes are practical and can be used in daily cooking. Has a beautiful coffee table cover but isn’t really a coffee table type book.

Splendid Soups and Sauces – James Peterson – Not one book but two different volumes. Foundation books for any level chef. If you really like your waiter friend, and you have deep pockets, presenting them as a set would be a grand gesture.

La Technique and La Methode – Jacques Pepin – Foundation books for any level chef. First written and published in the 70s, these practical “step-by-step” volumes helped spur on the increasing interest in fine cooking in the US. Can now be found as a combined volume.

If your gift recipient has a particular interest in a specific type of cuisine, it’s easy to use the Internet to find great books in any category. I have reviewed multiple books in Thai and Japanese cuisine. I can highly recommend any of those volumes. I have also reviewed quite a few barbeque and grilling/smoking books as well. 

Wine geeks/fine dining waiters/waiters moving up the employment food chain:

Wine for Dummies – Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan – This book is perfect for waiters who are working in restaurants with fairly limited winelists or are young waiters who don’t have extensive personal experience with wine. It’s not a bad gift for more experienced waiters either because, as is the case with the “…For Dummies” series, a lot of information is covered in a breezy yet authoritative style. You can also find “…For Dummies” books in wine subcategories like Italian as well.

The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson – This hefty and pricey tome is for the true wine geek. Filled with maps of famous vineyards and wine-growing areas, there are copious amounts of background info on regions, vintners and well-known properties.

An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France – Clive Coates – a specialized volume for wine geeks and waiters who have extensive French wines on their restaurant’s wine list. Highly recommended.

Frank Stitt’s Southern Table – Recipes and Gracious Traditions From Highland Bar and Grill – Frank Stitt – This book could belong in the “culinary category” but I include it here because it kills two birds with one stone – it updates Southern cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and locally procured products but it also pairs specific wine with specific dishes.

The Oxford Companion for Wine – Jancis Robinson – Written by a Master of Wine, this is a typically deep and broad Oxford reference work. Essential for any wine geek that doesn’t already have it.

I hesitate to recommend reference books from Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. They are certainly handy but they are almost obsolete by the time they are published, especially Parker, who only updates his every few years. His books are designed more for the collector and purveyor, but even I have an older edition simply because it offers a very personal look at the various winemakers, gathered from years of personal barrel tastings and interaction with vintners large and small. As an alternative, you might want to give the wine geek waiter in your life an on-line subscription to The Wine Spectator or Robert Parker. In the case of The Wine Spectator, buying a subscription unlocks the entire wine database, offers mobile access (handy when you’re standing in front of rows and rows of wines), and allows you to keep track of wine collections or wines of note. The Robert Parker online subscription offers much the same thing. I’ve found both of them useful for getting very specific capsule reviews of the very wines on my wine list, which I have copied and pasted to handy guides that I maintain. This is very useful for finding the proper adjectives to describe specific wines to my guests. Robert Parker costs $99 a year and The Wine Spectator costs $49 a year. parker also offers short term subscriptions for $12for a month and $29 for 3 months.

https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/M5/WSO/Giftpage-form3-121807.jsp?cds_page_id=37712&cds_mag_code=WSO&id=1259337389570&lsid=93310955291018930&vid=2&cds_response_key=I9HWSGHP

https://www.erobertparker.com/subscriptions/SubscribeGiftWizard.aspx

Obviously this is just a short list of valuable resources. The more you know about the waiter that you are buying a gift for, the more appropriate a gift you can target. The internet offers a great way to search for very specific items and you can also find reviews from people like myself or at big sites like Amazon.com. I suggest that you provide the receipt in case your waiter already has the book that you have bought or would rather exchange it for a different book. 

Image courtesy of http://www.dreamstime.com/book-with-bow-imagefree4321885

Gifts for waiters – pt 1

After just having talked about commercialization and hoping to wait until midnight tonight to start confronting it, I break my own rule.

I do this because I recognize that today will be a day where fewer people than usual will be accessing this blog, and for good reason. There’s turkey to carve, canned cranberry substance to avoid, pecan pie to gorge on, and American football to watch with friends and family.

But I wanted to get a jump on tomorrow and offer some suggestions for holiday gifts for the waiter in your life.

So sue me.

I’ve discussed some of these things on the blog, but not in the context of gift-giving. We’ll discuss this topic over several upcoming posts.

First of all, we start with the supreme gift that a waiter can carry with them to work, a Laguiole corkscrew.

Let’s talk about this for a moment.

Laguiole is not a manufacturer, it’s a marketing term. It’s pronounced roughly, “la-jzoll”. It originally described a knife product produced in the village of Laguiole, but soon became a regional product and later described a visual style, which has been copied throughout the world, sometimes counterfeited outright and sometimes manufactured as a “Laguiole-styled” product. It’s distinguished by a long narrow body, usually sheathed in a premium hardwood, bone or fossil. While some models are straight, most have a gentle curve that falls naturally to hand. The knife portion is usually constructed of 440 surgical steel, and the components are precision milled and forged and hand-fitted to a tight, long-lasting fit.

The “true” brand has a specific mark – some call it a bee and some call it a fly. You decide:

 

Don’t be fooled. There are real Laguioles, “real” Laguioles, “Laguiole-styled” and counterfeit Laguioles. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes, especially when you shop on-line. Sometimes they are similar to “Swiss-made”, “Swiss movement” and “Swiss engineered” watches. “Swiss made” watches, unless counterfeit, are actually made in Swiss factories. “Swiss movement”, “Swiss” and “Swiss engineered” watches are usually made in Chinese factories from Swiss parts and Swiss designed movements and are overseen by on-site Swiss engineers. The same is true of some “Laguiole” products.

Let’s put it this way – you need to spend at least $75 retail on a real basic Laguiole product. And nicer ones cost much more. I’ve seen the occasional corkscrew sold online NIB at about $50 but, never having bought one, I can’t speak to the craftsmanship. You can find them on eBay for even less, but you rarely can be assured of the provenance. However, if you use some common sense and careful observation of the pictures and the language of the listing, you can find a few real Laguioles between $25 – $60 on eBay (I just looked). 

 There are over 50 French factories making these products and, due to the handmade nature of the product, there’s probably some variation (one factory claims that only one person makes each knife from start to finish). Here are some classic Laguiole looks:

 

But a faux Laguiole might be appropriate if you’re buying a gift for a waiter like me who tends to misplace things like corkscrews, sunglasses and umbrellas. In fact, I have such a corkscrew. I bought it new on eBay for around 10 bucks. Has a rosewood handle and from a distance could be mistaken for a Laguiole. But it’s clear that the workmanship is only average at best. The wood on the handle has a loose, open grain and the corkscrew wobbles slightly from side-to-side. But in general, it’s a perfect corkscrew for me. Not so expensive that I have to fret about it and not so cheaply made that it won’t stand up to daily use (mine has been around for almost 2 years now, ironic for someone like me who probably has 2 other decent corkscrews hiding around the house and a couple that I’ve given to the parking lot god).

There is one downside to Laguiole that could be a deal-breaker for some waiters. Some waiters insist on a double-hinged lever.  This uses a stepped approach to cork pulling as the lever itself is longer than usual and is notched both at the end and also at a hinge which allows the waiter to use a two-pull approach. This is handy when you have a delicate or extra-long cork. Personally, while I find them convenient, I’ve never “needed” one. But I know some waiters who would never use a conventional lever because they’ve gotten used to the hinged type. It might be good to casually inspect your intended gift recipient’s current corkscrew, or find a way to ask about their preference without them knowing why you’re asking.

You don’t necessarily have to go with Laguiole. There are some nice “waiter’s friends” out there. Some are fancier than others. Some can be engraved. What you want to avoid is the cheap stamped pot-metal types like you find in the supermarket. Find something that’s made of stainless steel or with a wood handle. Something like this would be nice:

Pluses are hinged levers like you see in the above example, extra-long screws, teflon-coated screws, tight construction.

If your significant other isn’t a klutz like me, they will surely appreciate the gift of a really nice waiter’s friend corkscrew. Might as well spend a few bucks. If they are a klutz or are a more casual acquaintance, by all means be more modest in the type of corkscrew you pop for. But buy a nice one in whatever price range you choose. Look to eBay and other online sources of bargains. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a specialty cutlery store, you might find some nice imported models. Generally, the ones you see in department stores aren’t very good or are good but pedestrian.

So show your favorite waiter some love and get them a nice stocking stuffer this year. They’ll appreciate it. Makes a great Secret Santa gift as well…

 

Thanksgiving 2009

311 years ago next month, Pilgrims, escaping persecution in their home country, landed in a new world after attempting to establish themselves elsewhere in the Old World.

Within the year, they were celebrating what we moderns consider the first Thanksgiving feast, a meal shared with the people with which they had signed a peace treaty and who had provided means of survival during the first brutal winter.

Crossing the ocean to find a world where they might be free to worship, they were driven by the promise of freedom.

Soon pressured by the same forces from which they had fled with the arrival of the Puritans, the Pilgrims found the challenges of a New World daunting. With Puritans bringing their own brand of religious intolerance and clashes with indigenous peoples breaking out around them, the Pilgrims soon because absorbed into a larger social network. In a way, they found what they were looking for when they were absorbed into the larger provence of Massachusetts. Along the way, they lost their unique identity, but not their faith. And, in their own way, they moderated the more fundamentalist traits of the predominating Puritans through their absorbtion into the greater whole.

Over the years, the story of the Pilgrims has been rebuilt, idealized, recalibrated for current events and has entered the realm of mythology and apocryphal narration.

Depending on our political stripe, we can draw varied conclusions from the story.

I would like to think that we can take important lessons from the idea of the search for freedom and the desire to cooperate with other, more divergent cultures and blend it with the idea that people should rankle against religious and social intolerance, but be ever mindful of being subsumed into a larger whole for the sake of pure commerce and expediency. The Pilgrims fought long odds in a desire to live and worship in their own fashion. Should we not aspire ourselves to allow others the same right to live the way that they wish, as long as they bring no harm to others?

Sadly, in these days of marginalization, a divided public and an increasingly shrill public discourse, we move further and further from the ideals of the first Thanksgiving.

I hope that we, as a people, stop and take a deep breath and reflect today on the principles of tolerance and the true meaning of freedom.

And forget about commercialism until at least after midnight tonight, at which point we can then struggle with the whole Christmas/commercialism paradigm.

May peace be with you and yours.

Thanksgiving

With more and more restaurants staying open for Thanksgiving, I hope the guests show a little extra thanks for those waiters who are pressed into service.

By a little extra thanks, I mean an especially generous tip along with a heartfelt thank you.

Thank you.

New link posted – A Tip From the Bartender

Long time readers might have noticed that I don’t write much about life behind the bar or discuss the issues that bar personnel face. That’s because I’ve never been, nor have I ever desired, to be a bartender. Being a successful bartender requires a skill set that I just don’t possess. Of course, I occasionally post about libations and the importance of waiters knowing their bar products. I should probably remind waiters that bartenders are valuable allies in the quest for great service and they should be cherished for their craft.

So I’m happy to add a new blog to my blog roll, and a new category to boot.

A Tip From the Bartender is a well-written and entertaining look at your friendly neighborhood bartender. Sharp and stylish, the writer offers often sharp commentary on the daily grind of bartending and the situations that bartenders find themselves in.

I hope that you take the time to visit.

http://tipsfrombb.blogspot.com/

Let’s welcome our new bartender friend with a round of shots.

Image courtesy of “A Tip From the Bartender”