Noun 1. gastronome - a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)bon vivant, epicure, epicurean, foodie, gourmetsensualist - a person who enjoys sensuality. Follow me on Twitter: @Aghastronome

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tipping: The When's and How's - My Perspective

Today, 29-95's Whine and Dine has a nice reminder about tipping and waitstaff/service industry pay.  It's extremely topical at this juncture.  Read your local news, the price of oil has shot up to record levels, nearing $100/bbl.  How could this POSSIBLY be relevent to tipping etiquette?  Have I taken complete leave of what senses I have left in my possession? NO.  Tipping is likely to be my first in a series of posts about how we are cavorting around a perfect storm, economically and in my humble opinion.  We are in the "cone of uncertainty and rising food costs".

In general, most service employees are earning less than $3.00 per hour, plus tips.  Waitstaff tip-out and the end of their shift to everyone who helps them, bartenders, buspersons, and anyone else the establishment they work for includes in the pool.  I will spare you the reiteration, click the link above and read the article, it's on point.  Read the comments, too.  I am a 20% plus tipper for decent service, never less than 10% for poor service.  I have waited tables, I fully appreciate the work and effort that goes into making the general population happy.  I fully appreciate that there will be at least one person, couple or family, each shift, who possesses some insane notion that they are "all that and a sack of chips" and you, lowly service person are chattle.  They're jackwagons and likely tip for crap.  Those upon whom the odd cup of coffee or sticky dessert must fall, on accident, of course.  These people make the appreciative customers who do tip properly a shining light in your shift. One thing I should mention in particular, if you have a "koopon" or discount offer, it is proper and expected that you tip on the full MSRP of your meal.  Also, doubling the tax on your bill is not really an effective means of calculating a tip.  Those little tip cards?  If you can't manage the basic math in your head...well, that's your first and last meal in my presence.  What is twenty percent of a $40.00 check?  Pssst, $8.00, just saying.

To those who say they never tip, I say, stick to fast food, buffets and institutions offering counter service.  If you can't afford to tip properly, please only go where you can afford not to look like a cheapass.  Say, Apple Garden, or whatever that place is.  To those who think the employer making an alleged adjustment to ensure waitstaff make minimum wage:  The lady at the drive-thru who couldn't get my order right after I repeated it three times, and then couldn't make change.  That lady?  She makes minimum wage.  The person who remembers a four-top of orders and special instructions, keeps your drinks refreshed and works hard to make sure you have an excellent experience is worth far in excess of minimum wage.  You try living on minimum wage.  It requires an inodinate amount of sacrifice, if you've not done it in awhile.

Times are getting tough, that means it costs everyone more to travel to work.  Groceries are going to be increasing in price.  Spend wisely, and tip properly.  Nobody likes a cheapass.  Am I sure of that?  Uhuh, just read the Forum on "poor tippers" if you have any doubts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Surviving Bitter Texas Cold, or Easy Frito Pie.

So, the mercury has raced below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit for the second time in two weeks.  This means war.  See, it's humid here in the coastal region of Texas.  This makes for bone-chilling cold.  Anyone who can operate a microwave can make a corn chip concoction that will warm you up.  All you need is a sack of corn chips, or Frito's, a can of chili with the dog-like predator on it (no freaking beans), shredded cheese and some toppings (like a crapload of chopped onion, if you're single and don't need to worry about snuggling anyone) or sour cream, cilantro, fresh chopped jalapeno (what you have in the ice box).  Some assembly is required, but, not like, say, a bicycle, you can do this.  First, you put the chips in a bowl, a single serve bowl (making one family-sized one yields mushy chips, no bueno), open the can and put the chili in a microwave safe container and zap until hot.  The "Reheat Plate" button suffices on my microwave.  Pour chili on chips until nicely coated, cover liberally with cheese and top with what you got (onion, sour cream, etc).  Grab a spoon and a napkin, eat.  See, easy.  It's also really good.  There's something about certain brands of chili, when assembled into this concoction that just works.  If the can says "hot dog sauce", don't fall for it, it's a trick.  Chili, accept no substitutes.

*Don't be scared of the calories, or amount of cheese, it's cold and you therefore need to bulk up a little.  Self defense, I call it.  Besides, you know you have all this crap in your pantry, and the chips can be purchased at the "Stop N Rob" on your way home.  Don't forget to load up on other essentials, beer, mad dog 20/20 and plenty of smokes.

Stay warm peeps, it's gonna look like Spring has sprung by next week.  Well, if the weatherpeoples are correct.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Armed Roosters? Really?

So, today is not all about the food.  Well, it's sort of an ironic twist in the food chain.  Okay, it's a news story that was sent to me early this morning.  Now, everywhere I turn on the interwebs, I see "Armed Rooster Kills California Man".  It's my domain, I am the master of it, and I find this headline magnanimously hilarious.  As I sit here, basking in the flourescents and listening to Alison Kraus & Union Station's live version of "New Favorite" and push all thoughts of Valentine's Day and it's ensuing total misery out of my head, and ramble on.  Well, I have to say something to this headline.  What's wrong with this picture?  I have visions of "Rambo, the well-muscled yard bird" pulling automatic weaponry, Crocodile Dundee knives and a few toothbrushes carefully-honed into shivs out, and tracking down the rat bastard that made him fight.  To the death.  Which is only a misdemeanor in Sunny California. First, some jackwagon put a sharp implement on that poor chicken, who did not voluntarily participate in some bizarre avian version of West Side Story, or Fight Club (depends on if you like musicals or not, work with me).  Second, the bird was probably freaked out and accidentally spiked this guy with the sharp thing someone put on him (typically over the spurs they already have).  The fact that he died is not to be made light of, necessarily. However, I cannot help but think in terms of "Darwin" and perhaps a pool of sorts getting deeper.  Color me crassly insensitive, I'm really not.  I also don't have any use for fighting animals, animal cruelty of any manner, taking advantage of defenseless children or the elderly, or any person who needs defending on account of they are not as wily as some of us.  Those who engage in said behavior and end up suffering a "bad", well, good on ya.  Karma or Nature, or whatever, will bite back, on occasion.  Armed Rooster...I am still giggling, rather inappropriately, but, giggling.