Sunday, August 29, 2010


Just like clothing fashions, there are foods that are wildly popular in restaurants for a brief span of time and then virtually forgotten in a couple of years. Blackened redfish became such a trend in the 1980s that the redfish was in danger of becoming extinct. Sale of redfish is banned in most states in the U.S. even today. Except for making an entire species disappear, I don't see any harm in people getting excited about trying something different. I admit, it could suck if I happened to be working in a restaurant that hadn't caught the new wave of interest quite yet, and it's amazing how nasty some customers can become over even simple things like not finding focaccia bread on the menu in a pancake house, or herbal tea in a bar.

The trends that I remember best were the salad dressings, and I think of them almost as eras in my life as in, "The Catalina Era" or "The Honey Mustard Era". There were also honey-lime, balsamic vinaigrette, creamy peppercorn and caesar and probably a few others I've blocked out. If the restaurant I was working in didn't have one of these during its reign of popularity, everything was "
just ruined" for some diners, and no amount of fresh baked rolls or assorted crackers could console them. Thank God I was too young to wait tables when ranch first came on the scene - the heroin of all salad dressings. I would hate to ever have to tell someone, "We don't serve ranch dressing." Can you imagine the tears?

I mentioned that the trends didn't bug me when I was waiting tables, but as a banquet waiter, I suffered dearly. When one kind of food makes it to superstardom, it becomes the main course of at least half of all banquets being served. That means there is easily a 50% chance that it will become the employee meal of banquet waiters working that season - every freaking day of the season. It's hard enough to deal with all the chicken (it's usually the cheapest thing on the banquet menu so it gets ordered a lot) but when you're eating chicken prepared the exact same way day in and day out, it becomes like prison food. Herb Chicken with Summer Squash Vegetable Medley and Roasted Baby New Potatoes had a run rivaling The Sound of Music on Broadway. I got to where I could barely serve it, let alone eat it. During the Herb Chicken Years, I even nearly ended a relationship before it had a chance to begin because my date made "this new recipe for herb chicken" as a surprise for me the first time I went over to his house. Looking back, I can see why his feelings might have been hurt when I said, "You KNOW I work in banquets! How could you DO this to me?" Chicken is an entirely different food to people with office jobs.


  1. This post is hilarious... your poor date :(


  2. I swear if I ever owned a restaurant there would be no ranch. NONE. I hate it. Well, it does taste good - I just hate the idea of it and the way people slather it on everything. It always looks like a bowl of ranch with a side of lettuce when they get done with their three extra ramikens of the stuff. gak.

  3. Just read your letter to Rep. Tom Emmer over at The Bitchy Waiter. You, sir, are my new hero.

    Also, ranch dressing is disgusting.

  4. Bless your heart, Tonya.
    I wrote to Emmer even before I found out what a raving homo-hater he is. Of course, anyone who is mean to the wait staff is bound to be a bozo in every other area of their life. I'm nearly positive he is an "extra ranch dressing on the side" kind of person.