Letters | November 2009
My husband and I are foodies who travel primarily to seek out local specialties, markets, and restaurants. Your September issue was the best magazine I’ve ever read—I found myself filing away almost every article for future reference. We will heed the Lee brothers’ barbecue suggestions when we drive from Colorado to Florida this fall; we will head to La Brigada for a grilled sirloin while in Buenos Aires around Christmas; and we hope to use Anya von Bremzen’s many tips during an as-yet-unplanned trip to Italy. Thanks for making our mouths water! —Clair Beckmann, Louisville, Colo.
I was excited to see your special Food and Travel issue, but I was hoping there would be a section or two for vegetarian travelers. As a vegan, it’s always nice to get new travel advice; I’d also be interested in reading about places that have designated meatless days, like Ghent, in Belgium. In any case, please keep us vegetarian travelers in mind, too! —Heather Moore, Norfolk, Va.
I have 25-plus years of experience in the hospitality industry, and while I enjoyed reading Mark Orwoll’s article on tipping around the globe, I must say that leaving 15 percent before taxes is an outdated recommendation. I wouldn’t think of leaving less than 20 percent of the total bill for good service and more for excellent service. —Jackie Booth, Newport, R.I.
Mark Orwoll replies: As mentioned in T+L’s Tipping Guidelines, the standard is 15–20 percent. I’d prefer to see servers get a fair salary instead of gratuities. But for now, like you, I tip an average of 20 percent.
Are You Being Served?
How can anyone feel that being verbally abused by restaurant staff means quality? I went to San Francisco’s notorious Sam Wo decades ago—when that one famously abusive waiter, Eddie, was still there—just to see what the fuss was about. It was an ugly, tourist-filled hole-in-the-wall and, worse yet, the food was horrible. I would never even consider trying to make a reservation at a restaurant like L’Ami Louis in Paris, and why should I? For the honor of being treated with contempt? Whoever finds this type of treatment worthwhile is just buying into the hype. —Abbey Lane, San Francisco, Calif.
Peter Jon Lindberg must be kidding. Would you go to a surgeon who treated you poorly because he felt like you owed him something? Rudeness, in my opinion, is always unacceptable; anyone whose living is based on service should eventually realize that. —Anne Boyle, Flemington, N.J.
Peter Jon Lindberg replies: Ms. Boyle is right: no one would deliberately choose a rude surgeon. Unless, of course, he were the absolute best in his field. Some diners hold the same view of restaurants—that the best of them are worth the abuse. Ridiculous? Probably. Food makes people do strange things.
Reader’s Find: Italy
During a recent trip to southern Italy, my daughter and I were delighted to meet Tania Pascuzzi, the founder of In Italy Tours (from $2,039 for an eight-day tour), which organizes cooking excursions in the Calabrian coastal town of Tropea. Tania picked us up from the train station and whisked us away to spend six days in Capo Vaticano, Monte Porro, Pizzo Calabro, and the hills of San Angelo, where native Tropean Marianna welcomed us into her country home for cooking lessons. There, we rolled pasta, grilled freshly caught fish, and created desserts from ingredients grown in her garden while enjoying local wines. The recipes came home with us as souvenirs. —Lori Lerner Gray, Malibu, Calif.
In Italy Tours
The tour operator organizes cooking excursions in the Calabrian coastal town of Tropea. Spend six days in Capo Vaticano, Monte Porro, Pizzo Calabro, and the hills of San Angelo, where native Tropean Marianna welcomes guests into her country home for cooking lessons. There, they roll pasta, grill freshly caught fish, and create desserts from ingredients grown in her garden while enjoying local wines.