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May 14, 2008

A worrisome development

Bad news. Multimedia Editor and Resident Cheeseburger and Wings Expert John Lindner seems to have disappeared. I've checked my e-mail eagerly every couple of hours, but I haven't heard from him this week.

That means there is no Shallow Thought Wednesday -- although conceivably he could be away thinking Deep Thoughts, and being back at The Sun tomorrow will bring him to his senses and lower his I.Q. a few dozen points.

Or he may have died an untimely death from eating too much gas station sushi.

Anyway, I know you're disappointed, so I'm going to share his response when I forwarded an e-mail from someone complaining in an even-more-snobby-than-usual way about my reviewing chains.

Here's what John sent me back: ...

What a goof.
Like he's subsisting on nuts and berries, eschewing shoes, buying hand-stitched pants from a Guatemalan immigrant working out of his basement, and milking his own damn goats.
I may break a rule and get a T-shirt with "I (heart shape) Behemoths" written across the tum area.
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:42 AM | | Comments (62)


Here are some thoughts and questions:
1) Why do Germans eat cake with a spoon instead of a fork? Maybe others do too. It might be related to the next one.
2) Why do some people use their fork upside down as a stabbing device, robbing themselves of it's function as a stabbing/scooping device? I have watched people do this: stab a piece of meat and then try to pile mashed potatoes and peas onto the upside down fork (It was uber-vulgarian Gordon Ramsay).
3) What's up with people in Baltimore putting ice in beer, especially lite beer?
4) Why do people eat bread with pasta? Seems redundant.
5) Is there gum prejudice? I can't help but think that gum chewing isn't very adult. I bite myself too much, so I can't chew gum.
6) When you go to the supermarket, do you evaluate the life of other people's carts? A little cart anthropology? When I see a lot of processed foods and six large bottles of generic orange soda, I get a bad picture.
7) Stemless wine glasses? Hate them.

So there's some stuff to chew on.

These are excellent, excellent. John, we may not need you anymore. EL

Excellent questions, RC--we may have more in common than I thought.

One of our cousins was cured of public gum chewing when her French professor addressed her as "Mademoiselle Vache" (or "Miss Cow").

I have never seen anyone put ice in beer, but then I don't drink lite beer. Maybe it needs something ...

You Rock, Chiclet.

I'm guilty of #6!!! I often want to toss some veggies in their cart and see what happens. It might explode though....

I also look in other people's grocery carts and evaluate their lives. If I see stacks and stacks of pre-prepared meals, I have to hold myself back from yelling, "but you could buy five pounds of potatoes for the cost of one of those meals! Ahhh!!!"

You can also tell who the single women are. A cart full of Lean Cuisines? Bingo. How YOU doin'?

In German, chewing gum is "kau gummi." It translates as "chewing rubber" (as in "gummi baeren" - gummy bears) but to American ears perfectly describes those who chew, much as "Mademoiselle Vache."

I've seen people put ice in beer here and it's always the weak light beers. Maybe keeping in super cold prevents you from tasting the lame flavor. I'm pretty sure I once saw someone drinking beer with ice IN A SNIFTER. Ironic that Chiclet can'r chew gum. Ever see someone chewing gum and drinking beer or wine. Nice. I once hid the bacon under something else at Ho Foods to avoid the scorn of the vegan behind me. Yes, I said hide the bacon. Grow up.

I, too, am guilty of (at least) #6, but I try not to be too harsh in my judgement, lest I, too, be judged.

One habit I did pick up while eating in Germany is to keep the fork in my left hand and the knife in my right, not cutting my food, putting the knife down, and switching the fork to the other hand. Seems to be an American affectation.

RokChik, great questions. I'll take a stab at em.
1. Seems logical to me--you get every crumb with a spoon; not so much with a fork.
2: I think only Americans use the fork in the left hand and knife in the right to to cut food, then switch the fork to the right hand to pick it up...back and forth, back and forth.... The Europeans I know eat with the fork tines-down as you described. So, it would seem we--not they--are the oddballs.
3. When I've asked why they put ice in beer, my friends just say to keep it cold longer. Okay, works for me.
4. Bread is handy to mop up what's left of the pasta sauce.
5. pass--I HATE gum, and gum-poppers even more!
6. I check other carts, but only to be sure I grabbed mine after I parked it somewhere. I've embarrassed myself a few times grabbing the wrong one.
7. I'm curious as to why you hate stemless glasses. I have WAY too much money invested in stems to buy new glassware, but I think the Riedel stemless glasses are gorgeous!
Okay, 'nuf said...let someone else take the baton.

#2 is the European way of eating. I was at a very very posh boarding school in the UK and was initially surprised at the way people ate, but that is their way of eating. They think that Americans are ridiculous cutting with the knife and fork, then transferring the fork from the left to the right hand and then doing it all over again.

RC, just because it isn't the way Americans were taught doesn't mean it's wrong. Just as driving on the other side of the road in the UK isn't wrong.

Ice in beer? The folks I've seen around town have much more class. They put ice in their wine (which, by the way, is in a stemless glass)!

And I thought I was the only one suffering Chewing Gum Cheek-Tongue Biting Syndrome {CGC-TBS} (maybe we can get federal funding to study the problem [i.e. pay us some bucks], if we call it a syndrome.) Soooo painful.

I know that manners and customs are somewhat arbitrary, but the design of the fork demands that it be used American-style. Don't you think? When people use a knife to try to pile food onto a convex surface seems wrong from an engineering standpoint. I understand the laziness aspect when cutting meat, but why not turn it around when there is no cutting? It's clearly more effort to pile food onto an unstable platform than to reverse and scoop.

Let me get in the fork queue.
Apparently the four tined curved dinner fork is a rather recent invention. "the four-tined fork became popular only in the late 1800s".

Here are some interesting fork history links:

Believe it or not there is a whole article in Wikipedia on "Fork Etiquette"

"The cause of the difference in custom is uncertain. It is believed to have originated because the 17th century American colonists had established themselves before the fork, and any custom of its use, had become widespread in Europe. The implement did not become widespread in Europe (certainly northern Europe) until the 18th century, and was not adopted in the United States until the 19th century."

I like when pretentious Amerticans ask for chop sticks in Thai restaurants or try to eat sushi rolls with chop sticks ... wait for it ... wait for it ... plop splash soy sauce bath.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Europeans have a lingering memory of badly designed two tine straight forks and didn't change their habits to accomodate the new better design. Since Americans didn't have such a history with the fork, they were able to properly grasp the proper form to utilize it's design.

That's not funny RtSO. My grandfather died of CGC-TBS. But at he was free from his RLS.

The stems on glassware are there for a reason: to keep the servants' poxy mitts away from the drinking area.

Fork dorks.


Restless Leg Syndrome. So many syndromes, so little time for hypochondriacs.

Re glassware--am I the only one who hates being handed a glass by a stranger with the fingers on the rim?

I had always understood that the European way of holding the fork was more efficient and that the American way was slower and therefore more elegant. So there!

In my younger college days I worked the night shift in a local grocery store, use to grade the shopping lists using the old college C/B+ method for content and structure. Ya get weird working the zombie shift and little things kept you sane....

Also the correct way to eat ice cream is to put the spoon in your mouth upside down, so the metal is not hitting your you a better
taste and mouth feel for the ice cream!!!

Interesting to see on Voodoo's first link that some of the forks pictured resemble chopsticks.

Jonathan - your observation may indeed be true but I have seen many a waitron ignore the stem as they remove filled glasses from the serving trays they are holding. They manage to wrap their fingers around, or close to, the rim.

I like when servers tuck a bottle of wine under their armpit when transporting it to the table.

Or, how about the wine bottle between the legs as the server endeavours to pull the cork? Very nice, indeed.

Ms. Chicklet, please ignore any bitting comments that may be directed your way. My sympathies on your loss.

As to RLS, despite the adverts, I tend to get that more often around 2 in the afternoon, whilst sitting working. Had the sun stayed out by 2, like it was at 11, I'm sure I would have had an episode.

Stemless glasses are great... give to your spill-prone friends when they come over to your place since they are easier to manage, yet keep the spirit of the wine drinking experience intact. ++!

Putting ice in beer, including the erzatz stuff pawned off as light beer, is an abomination. However, if you must, try the method employed by some places, like LP Steamers in Locust Point. They have a narrow plastic insert containing ice that hangs on the inside of the pitcher. At least it doesn't further dilute the beer.

RtSO maybe you should take the drug Requip. The side effects are minor: nausea, drowsiness or sleepiness, vomiting, and dizziness.

Some patients taking ropinirole have shown urges to behave in a way unusual for them. Examples of this are an unusual urge to gamble or increased sexual urges and/or behaviors.

Hallucinations (unreal sounds, visions, or sensations) have been reported in patients taking Requip.

So you can get rid of your afternoon happy feet, but you may become a hypomanic gambling addict. I love that side effect. I'm guessing that this drug messes with your neurotransmitters, which seems extreme for happy feet.

RP - you mean my desire to get away from work and into the beautiful out of doors isn't RLS? Something is sure restless.

I just spoke with Multimedia Editor John. He lives, but barely, to eat gas-station sushi another day.

RP - you mean my desire to get away from work and into the beautiful out of doors isn't RLS? Something is sure restless.

OK,all together now -

I'd say that I had Spring fever...

Answers Key

1. Who cares how they eat cake, so long as they don't rekindle their taste for Austrian pastries, Czech Goulash or Polish Sausages.
2. I don't know..but there is only one way to use a spork.
3. Binge drinking without the buzz
4. Marathon Carb Loading
5. Gum Problems...Dirty Mouth, Clean it up.
6. Processed foods and Orange soda may give a bad picture, but red vines and Mr. Pibb are crazy delicious.
7. Stemless wine glass provide a better fit for my "cool beans koozie".

Thank you Dr. OMG. Requip sounds wonderful. With it I won't know, or care, that I'm indoors.

[U]rges to behave in a way unusual for them ... If this means eating with humans and not Book as my companion, that would certainly be most unusual.

Good one, OMG.

Hubby and I make all kinds of jokes during the list of side effects during drug commercials.

Several allergy medicines cause allergy symptoms. How weird is that?

Once, years ago, I heard someone refer to ice in beer (while he drank a Natty Lite over ice in a plastic cup) as a Dundalk cocktail Hon ;-)

There is one that says "If you have recently had a liver transplant or advanced AIDS tell you doctor before taking X". Who is your physician? Doctor Bombay? Dr. Leo Spacemen?

Let's say I have a stuffy nose from seasonal allergies. Let's take some Allegra, because that's a happy name. Uh oh, the side feects are stomach upset, menstrual cramps, back pain, cough, fever, stuffy nose, earache or dizziness may occur. And NOW I have menstrual cramps!

Have you noticed that drug names are getting more seductive? Claritin is the clear choice. Celebrex makes me want to dance and celebrate. Maui Wowey ... uh, scratch that. Abilify sounds awesome. Allegra just straight up means shiny happy people in Italian. And why are those people in the herpes commercials leading way more active and exxciting living than the rest of us? If you take the one that makes you pee like a race horse, do you HAVE to go kayaking that much?

No, Owlie, you don't have to go kayaking, you just have to sing the "gotta go" song.

And what's with the one product for this problem that seriously warns that no creature of the female gender should be in the same room with it?

Rosebud, Is that the one that says at the end "because of the risk of a very specific birth defect" without giving any more details? That's just one of the reasons some doctors, medical researchers, and Congresscritters are looking into television ads for prescription drugs and medical equipment - they do not outline the risks in as much detail as they are required to do in print ads. You know, the ones with the big color pictures of happy, fulfilled people on one page and a full page of small print on the next. Not that I am knocking drugs. They are probably keeping me in a lot better shape than if I didn't take them..

"Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant or who are nursing should touch broken tablets..." Yeah, whatever that one is is scary. I'm going to go with ... plutonium.

Yeah, I like the "gotta go" song, but it is not half as infectious as that damned Free Credit Report dot Com song. Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!

My husband giggles everytime he hears Sally Fields extol the benefits of "Boniva". "Once a month Boniva"

What looked like a disappointing Wednesday has turned out well with 43 posts so far. I nominate Rock Chiclet to dig shallow and submit some more next week. After too much gas station sushi John may not have the power of speech anymore. Blerg.

3) What's up with people in Baltimore putting ice in beer, especially lite beer?
RC - I'd like to know what's up with the beer in tomato juice thing (gack!)

I'm sure it must have to do with side effects, but what's so hard about taking 1 pill once a week, versus "Once a month Boniva"?

"Yeah, I like the "gotta go" song, but it is not half as infectious as that damned Free Credit Report dot Com song. Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!"

Thanks, OMG, for putting that song in my head!

Yeah, I like the "gotta go" song, but it is not half as infectious as that damned Free Credit Report dot Com song. Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!

The very definition of an ear worm. Now I'll need another one to get this one out of my head.

RE: the beer in the tomato juice thing...

Joyce - I watched Paula Deen make a "Bloody Mary" with beer as the alcohol ingredient. I wasn't too sure how that would go over. It was almost like she was making a Bloody Mary with training wheels.

The very definition of an ear worm. Now I'll need another one to get this one out of my head.

Rosebud, any of dozens of Barry Manilow songs will purge all other thoughts from your mind. Do you know the way to San Jose?

I think Beer with Tomato Juice is a Bullseye. I've had one, and I kinda liked it.

I overheard a liquor salesman talking to a store owner about tomato-flavored beer. I haven't seen it yet, but it will probably happen. All bad ideas seem to.

Beer and V8 isn't too bad either, but not something I'd drink a lot of.

Would that be Healthy Beer then?

f-r-e-e-creditreportdotcom-baybee is stuck in my head. Earworms!

OMG - My friend who delivers beer says he hears the tomato flavored beer thing is going to happen soon. I actually like tomato juice, and V8 AND bloody marys but the beer component... just can't get with it!

It could be worse. They make a beer/milk combo in Japan.

My sons collected soft drink cans when we visited Japan years ago. I remember one was called "Pokari Sweat" or something along those lines.
Maybe it just needed tomato juice.

Did Barry Manilow sing "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" In my mind, it belongs to Dionne Warwick forevah and evah.

Dahlink -- I agree with you as to Dionne Warwick originating San Jose, though Barry Manilow may have since covered it for all I know.

And, yes, Pocari Sweat is a well known "refreshment water" (whatever that may be) in Japan.

Mea Culpa! Mea Culpa! I meant Burt Bacharach, who wrote it and many others.

Mr. O.F.--big difference between the Divine Dionne and Barry Manilow (but I may date myself by saying that we saw Barry Manilow open for the Divine Bette Midler many years ago ... before anyone knew who he was)

For anyone curious about Pocari Sweat, they sell it at H-Mart at Route 40 and Rolling Road in Catonsville. I think it's disgusting, but I feel the same way about Gatorade (similar idea; "refreshment water" is code for sports drink), so take that with a grain of salt.

Dahlink, back around '63 I was at a Peter, Paul, and Mary concert at what was then known as the Forest Hills Tennis Club, and they had a friend of theirs do a few numbers - a new guy by the name of Bob Dylan!

Yes, I am dating myself, but what else can an old fart do?

Mr. O.F.--you put the "old" in O.F.! But I'm right there with you.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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