Culinary no-no #736


Graphic: LA Times

Suppose. You’re having a dinner party. Friends are invited. A nice meal has been prepared. Guests arrive. And you all have a wonderful time. The evening’s a success.  And then, it happens.

The bill comes.

The what?

The bill.

You present a bill. Just like in restaurants.

Awkward, for sure.

But is it appropriate? Ever?

Back in March LA-based comedian Amber Nelson tweeted, “Got invited to someone’s place for dinner and they charged me for it … this is weird, right?”

Nelson instigated an instant social media discussion.

Here’s what happened according to the Huffington Post:

The dinner party was held in Los Angeles. The host mentioned having guests contribute in passing during the dinner, then Venmoed her friends a request for $20 later on. The dinner was penne alla vodka, not some high-effort lasagna with béchamel or a pasta spun out of a $899.99 Costco parm wheel.

Nelson partook in a few servings and went on her way. She paid when the request came in but she hasn’t spoken to the host since.

While most people replied something along the lines of, “yes, that’s very weird,” some folks said they’ve had this happen to them, too.

Remember, this is…California we’re talking about.

Others admitted they host their friends at a charge themselves. “As someone who hosts often I usually ask for people to chip in what they can to help me cover costs if they enjoyed the food. I would never stop someone from eating, though. I invite my friends I like to hang out with and they pay what they want to make it happen more.”

Consider what happened to Jarrel Benedict, a photographer who works in advertising in Canada, a few years ago.

In his case, it was a 10-person traditional dinner party where pork tenderloin was served. Cheese and nuts, bacon-covered asparagus and mashed potatoes were also on the menu, as well as sugar pie for dessert.

Later, as digestifs were passed around, the host made a beeline to Benedict and casually informed him it would be ”$30 for your share.” (This was on top of the $70 wine Benedict had already brought to dinner).

“In the moment, I was taken aback a bit,” he said. “I thought he was joking so I laughed. Then he said that he was serious.”

What do etiquette experts say?

“Is there a typo in the tweet? I think the person meant to write, ‘made a reservation at a restaurant’ instead of ‘got invited to someone’s place for dinner.’

“Being a dinner party host means enjoying certain privileges: getting to choose the date and time, selecting who is on the guest list, and picking the menu. But if you ask other people to ‘chip in,’ then you are inviting them to be co-hosts of the event, so you’ll need to share these privileges.”
Nick Leighton, the host of a weekly etiquette podcast who said you should never expect those you invite to your house to pay

“It is terribly rude to invite over friends under the guise of a dinner party and then after they have arrived, turn it into an unofficial fundraiser.”
Jodi R. R. Smith, the founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

“It’s fine when there’s open communication among friends and the host makes it clear that they want to throw a party but would love some help. You have to be upfront and honest so guests aren’t caught off guard. It’s a courtesy to let guests know in advance what to expect and they can decide if they want to attend.”
Diane Gottsman, author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” who agrees charging guests is a bad idea

“It is never appropriate to ask your guests to pay you back if you have invited them to be — keyword here — a guest at your dinner party.”
Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of  The Swann School of Protocol

“If a host sends a request for payment without advance discussion, it shows lack of courtesy and consideration for their guests. This host is making an assumption that everyone can, and will, pay the fee. The epitome of bad manners.”
Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

And if, GASP, you should ever be in a position of being asked to fork over your cash?

“For the person who receives that bill for the dinner party, the best way to react is to be very frank and very straightforward letting the person know that ‘When I was invited to your party I did not expect to have to pay.’

“Too often we feel that etiquette means that we should shrink from speaking up for ourselves or not saying something to someone if we have been wronged but there is nothing further from the truth.”
Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of  The Swann School of Protocol

I personally turn to the best etiquette experts I ever knew: my late parents. Growing up I recall Mom and Dad hosted numerous gatherings at our far less than mansion-like home. Birthdays. Holidays.

All members of all sides of the family were invited. There was no place for everyone to sit. But every one was a guest, all came, all had a great time, and not a single person was asked to bring anything, including a financial contribution, and wasn’t expected to. A tremendous life lesson. Thanks Mom and Dad.

I close with:

“If you have the intention to charge people for a meal you invited them to, it should be discussed with the invite. Outside of that—you are being a garbage human being.”
Charles Hunter III, a Twitter user who identifies as a personal chef



Tip: Dump this Type of Coffee in the Trash

ICYMI: Culinary no-no #735, and an update

UPDATE: Culinary no-no #735


Previously on This Just In…

The update:

I contacted Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and asked about, in general, the range of beer prices there. They responded:

Kevin, we checked at several spots around the airport, and looks like prices are around $7-8 for a beer. We do want to note that MKE has the only beer garden in a U.S. airport.

Yes, we are aware of that (the $28 beer) and figured that’s why you were asking. Hopefully this helps more people choose MKE, which can help us get more flights from the airlines. Thanks Kevin!

Culinary no-no #735


A couple of years ago (2019) on National Beer Lover’s Day Milwaukee’s Mitchell International posted a picture of a great deal inside the airport. Take a look. A 12-pack for $28, about $2.33/can

Nothing special like that these days at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark airports.

Last summer, the company that operates food and beverage concessions at the airports, OTG, got blasted on Twitter by travelers outraged over a $27.85 Sam Adams Summer Ale and a $10.90 order of fries.

“It’s just Sam Adams Summer Ale — that’s insane!” said Cooper Lund, 32, of Brooklyn, who discovered the expensive 23-ounce brew at an airport Biergarten restaurant while flying from LaGuardia to visit family in Minnesota. 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ordered that a full audit be conducted of concession prices.

Here’s how the authority tries to, ahem, toe the line on excessive pricing. A policy was instituted in 2020 that caps what airport concessionaires can charge to 10% over the street price for food and beverages. The new guideline went into effect when the authority increased the minimum wage for airport workers employed by contractors.

“Oh my goodness, I thought it was going to be $2.50,” said Emily Fishman, 75, after paying $4 for a 12-ounce bottle of Minute Maid orange juice at a JFK food court during a layover on a flight to Israel. “They’ve got you, they know you don’t have a choice.”

“I paid $8 for two Fantas, that’s a ripoff,” said Felipe Rodriguez, 61, who flew into JFK from Puerto Rico. “It’s not like this is freshly squeezed juice — it’s Fanta!”

The excuse offered by a spokesperson for the businesses? The prices were “incorrectly posted” and “quickly corrected.”

THE CITY, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, digital news platform in New York, did some comparison shopping. The airports came off looking as gougers in the final results.

At a NYC Aglow by Hudson newsstand/convenience store inside Terminal B at LaGuardia, a five and a half-ounce tin of Pringles potato chips sells for $5.99, while an 11.5 ounce bottle of Simply Lemonade goes for $4.69 and a five-ounce bag of Kettle Corn Popcorners can be had for $5.49.

At the Pronto Lotto and Vape convenience store in Flushing, the Pringles are priced at $2.50, with the Simply Lemonade bottle at $2.75. The Kettle Corn Popcorners, meanwhile, are $2.99 at the Saanvi Food Mart in Flushing.

At the Long Island Express Deli across from the AirTrain station in Jamaica, a 20-ounce bottle of soda sells for $1.75 — compared with $3.89 at a Hudson News in Terminal 1 at JFK. While a bottle of Dasani water is $3.69 at that same airport newsstand, it goes for $1.75 in Jamaica.

BTW, the cost of a beer at Citi Field, home of the NY Mets: $11.75. At Yankee Stadium, it’s $6.

So, what’s being done about the highway robbery at the airports, you ask? Here’s the latest.


ICYMI, Culinary no-no #734

Culinary no-no #734


Back in 2007 when I was filling in for Mark Belling on Newstalk 1130 WISN I spent some time discussing an article in the Wall Street Journal headlined “The Great Hotel Cover-Up.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Hotels have spent the last decade courting travelers and one-upping each other with plusher, sexier bathrobes. Now, the hard part: convincing guests to wear anything else.

The Ritz-Carlton in Miami’s South Beach has put its employees on alert to keep guests in robes and slippers out of the club lounge on the concierge floor. Management at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco is instructing its staff not to seat anyone wearing robes in the bar. Staffers at the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico have started offering to fetch clothing for guests if they show up at one of the resort’s restaurants without proper attire.

Hotels that aren’t vigilant risk alienating businesspeople and outside guests who come for power breakfasts or ladies’ lunches, or anyone else who would prefer not to see glimpses of hairy bellies and cellulite. Gerry Hempel Davis was having afternoon tea with her grandson earlier this year at the Homestead, a luxury resort in Hot Springs, Va., when she spotted an “oversized male” traipsing through in flip-flops and a robe, revealing “two inches too many” of his bare legs. “Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but to me that is totally unacceptable — it’s atrocious,” she says. (The Homestead says dress is “resort casual” in the Great Hall, where the tea is served, and that guests in robes are asked to leave.)

The exposure problem is largely the result of the hotel industry’s aggressive push into the spa business. Nearly half of U.S. hotels and resorts now boast spas, up from 25% five years ago, according to Spa Finder, an industry tracker.

Not everyone is ready to diss robes. Lisa Peterson, 46 years old, says the main reason she sports a robe in public is because “it alerts the world that I am in relaxation mode and that I am pampering myself because I believe I’m worth it.” But the communications director for the American Kennel Club, who lives in Newtown, Conn., says it also makes her feel “a little bit naughty.”

For brides who hope to be the only ones in white, getting married at hotels is an increasingly risky proposition. Uninvited robed guests have been spotted among wedding guests in hotels from the Crowne Plaza in Clayton, Mo., to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers. Amy MacNeill, an event planner in Atlanta, says it’s something to consider when choosing locations. At a wedding she put on recently at a small hotel in Roswell, Ga., two hotel guests and their child wandered into the reception’s buffet area in robes — the woman with a towel wrapped around her head — and proceeded to help themselves to food. Luckily, she says, the bride and groom were on the dance floor, oblivious, but the groom’s mother was “a little antsy about the whole thing” and complained to the hotel.

On a recent Thursday morning at the (Beverly Hills) Peninsula, waiter Troy Price watched aghast as a man sauntered past the restaurant in a bathrobe for all the diners to see. Minutes later, as patrons in business suits tucked into stacks of pancakes, another man walked past the restaurant window — in a white robe that barely covered his knees. “I don’t know what the story with that is,” says Mr. Price, who says he refuses to seat people in bathrobes on the few occasions they’ve approached. “It’s not normal.”

Carolyn Spencer, 46, of Pennington N.J. and editor of cruise-review site says, “It’s extremely tacky. I don’t know you; I don’t want to see you in your bathrobe. Most ships are stocking cabins with medium-size bathrobes, but a lot of people in America need more than a medium size.”

We’ve lost civility, being courteous. Proper manners and respect for others have been replaced by a boorish, selfish mentality.

I blame:

The Bubba taught America it was OK to be a slob whenever and wherever you wanted to be.

Ok. The Wall Street article was published in 2007, 15 years ago. But do you honestly believe that behavior has improved? I don’t.

A few weeks ago I was attending a regular Sunday brunch/lich spot when a couple walked in and was seated near me. I’d say they were both on the older register of middle-aged.

The woman was wearing pajamas. The top matched the bottoms and the illustrated print looked like something a child would wear to bed. She looked stupid and totally out of place. Damn that Bill Clinton.

I appreciate blogger Mindi Cherry, mother of three and her complete takedown of PJs in public in a piece circa 2015. She writes:

I mean, I have been known to drive my daughter to the school bus stop in bad weather still wearing them and I have even gone out to a drive-through fast food restaurant wearing them…but never did I get out of the car. Far be it from me to have an opinion and not back it up, so here are five really good reasons people should not wear pajama pants in public:

Pajama pants in public is a major fashion mistake

Pajama pants in public shows …. things

Pajama pants in public is disrespectful

They send the wrong message

You won’t sleep nearly as good that night

She’s absolutely correct.

Read her entire piece, “Why You Need To Stop Wearing Pajama Pants In Public,” here.

“We are continuing, as a culture, on this downward spiral of style.

“I think that there will always be a group of people, a strong percentage of the population, who will care about their appearance. But now we have permission not to care.

“I think that one photograph of one celebrity wearing something (inappropriate) can validate someone. And they will leave the house wearing the same thing.

“It’s very easy in this country to do two things. One: overeat. Two: wear really comfortable clothes. The problem is, when you combine both of those things you get caught in a spiral. I’ve heard this from women time after time: ‘Before you know it, you’ve gained 30 pounds.’ And then you get to a point where it’s hopeless – ‘I can’t lose 30 pounds.’

“You say, ‘Uh, I give up.’ I’ll keep wearing my big comfy pants.’”
Clinton Kelly, TV personality, fashion expert, author


No. Just no.

The U.S. Army Just Replaced a Birthday Cake They Took 77 Years Ago

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #733: Oreos

Culinary no-no #733


When you think of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) you think big. Real big.

High tech. State of the art. Innovative.  Boundless creativity. Brainiacs galore.

MIT proclaims it strives to “advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”

MIT graduates “invented fundamental technologies, launched new industries, and created millions of American jobs.”

That’s an understatement. According to MIT:

1944: The digital computer
The first digital computer that could operate in real-time came out of Project Whirlwind, a initiative during World War II in which MIT worked with the U.S. Navy to develop a universal flight simulator. The device’s success led to the creation of MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 1951.

1945: Memex
Professor Vannevar Bush proposed a data system called a “Memex” that would allow a user to “store all all his books, records, and communications” and retrieve them at will — a concept that inspired the early hypertext systems that led, decades later, to the World Wide Web.

1959: The fax
In trying to understand the words of a strongly-accented colleague over the phone, MIT student Sam Asano was frustrated that they couldn’t just draw pictures and instantly send them to each other — so he created a technology to transmit scanned material through phone lines. His fax machine was licensed to a Japanese telecom company before becoming a worldwide phenomenon.

1963: The password
The average person has 13 passwords — and for that you can thank MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System, which by most accounts established the first computer password. “We were setting up multiple terminals which were to be used by multiple persons but with each person having his own private set of files,” Professor Corby Corbato told WIRED. “Putting a password on for each individual user as a lock seemed like a very straightforward solution.”

1971: Email
The first email to ever travel across a computer network was sent to two computers that were right next to each other — and it came from MIT alumnus Ray Tomlinson ’65 when he was working at spinoff BBN Technologies.

1973: The PC
MIT Professor Butler Lampson founded Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where his work earned him the title of “father of the modern PC.” The Xerox Alto platform was used to create the first graphical user interface (GUI), the first bitmapped display, and the first “What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get” (WYSIWYG) editor.

2002: Roomba
While we don’t yet have robots running errands for us, we do have robo-vacuums — and for that, we can thank MIT spinoff iRobot. The company has sold more than 20 million of its Roombas and spawned an entire industry of automated cleaning products.

You get the idea.

Now, here’s a line from MIT’s Mission Statement I just love.

“The Institute is committed to generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge, and to working with others to bring this knowledge to bear on”…are you ready…”the world’s great challenges.”

To that end MIT researchers have taken on an issue that has perplexed millions around the globe because, how does the phrase go? Inquiring minds want to know.

MIT, can you please help us?

Are we eating our Oreos all wrong?

If we examine this rather serious dilemma scientifically, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) describes it this way. Stay with me, everybody:

The mechanical experience of consumption (i.e., feel, softness, and texture) of many foods is intrinsic to their enjoyable consumption, one example being the habit of twisting a sandwich cookie to reveal the cream. Scientifically, sandwich cookies present a paradigmatic model of parallel plate rheometry in which a fluid sample, the cream, is held between two parallel plates, the wafers. When the wafers are counter-rotated, the cream deforms, flows, and ultimately fractures, leading to separation of the cookie into two pieces. Using a laboratory rheometer, we measure failure mechanics of the eponymous Oreo’s “creme” and probe the influence of rotation rate, amount of creme, and flavor on the stress–strain curve and postmortem creme distribution. The results typically show adhesive failure, in which nearly allw (95%) creme remains on one wafer after failure.

Say what?

In a word, it’s “Oreology.”

Translation: If you prefer twisting an Oreo in an effort to have two equal parts, it ain’t happening.

I’m guessing Crystal Owens has a bright future ahead. She’s a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at MIT, and she reportedly has wanted to discover an equal creme ratio in Oreos her whole life.

“I was personally motivated by a desire to solve a challenge that had puzzled me as a child: how to open an Oreo and get creme evenly arranged on both wafers? I preferred the taste of the cookies with the creme exposed. If I got a bite of wafer alone it was too dry for me, and if I dunked it in milk the wafer would fall apart too fast.” 

Owens led a team of researchers in a quest to find how it can be accomplished, and her critical tool is the aforementioned rheometer that measures the thickness and stickiness of  substances. 

Let’s cut to the chase. You can try and try and try in a laboratory under the best of conditions and your chances of winning the lottery might be better than getting two equal amounts of creme after unscrewing an Oreo.

My question is: Why in the world twist an Oreo in the first place? Dunk, just bite into it, or swallow the doggone thing whole.

Read all about Crystal and her “Oreology” study here.


ICYMI last week…

2ND UPDATE: Culinary no-no #159

“Rare is the time a family gets together and all eat dinner at the same table at the same time.  Today, Easter Sunday is one of those occasions. Imagine as the scalloped potatoes are being passed, a family member or two starts texting. Such conduct is off the rudeness charts, completely disrespectful to everyone else at the table.”

Previously on This Just In….

The update: Restaurant Offers Discount to Diners Willing to Lock Their Phones in ‘Jail’ 

Culinary no-no #732


My lovely wife, Jennifer is not a wine snob. But she loves wine.

I’ve blogged that she is a definite connoisseur, oenophile, slave to the grape.

She even owns this Christine Alexander top:

Jennifer’s female friends also have a unanimous admiration for wine. They get absolutely gleeful on Facebook when they share memes and what not about their favorite adult beverage.

Jennifer is no highbrow.  However, she can just by tasting determine which bottle purchased at Sendik’s was $10.99 as opposed to the one at $21.99.

You’ve read the papers. Americans need wine because they’re riled up.

Inflation, which increased 7.9% from February 2021 to February 2022, is top of mind for voters. In a poll by NBC News 35% of people said cost of living is the first or second most important issue to the country.

So I asked Jennifer today if she’s noticed any impact on wine price tags. Her answer: Absolutely not. Not even a penny.


Kristen Bieler is a senior editor at Wine Spectator. She writes:

Wine has been largely absent from the raging debate over inflation in recent months. While the wholesale price of beef is up by 20 percent and gas costs are at their highest level in seven years, a bottle of wine has been one of the few products consumers could count on to stay stable.

But Jennifer may have spoken too soon. Bieler continues:

Because grapes are harvested just once a year and wine reaches the market through a multitier distribution network, price pressures have simply not caught up to consumers yet. When they do, the perfect storm of inflation (up 6.2 percent in the United States in the past year, the highest rate in decades), supply chain bottlenecks, a small global grape harvest and and a surge in demand will mean consumers should brace themselves for spikes in wine prices.

I also asked Jennifer if she’s cool with wine in a box. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

That’s good. She may have to get a bit more used to that packaging.

Seems the glass in wine bottles is one of several factors that can and probably will send up price, and not just slightly. Try 20%.

Read all about it here.


Speaking of wine…

Parents express concerns about RUSD school lunches, district responds.

Yes, Capybara, Beaver, and other Aquatic Animals Count as ‘Fish’ During Lent.

Diners in Venice Are Being Issued Squirt Guns to Combat Hungry Seagulls.

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #731: Puny fast food.

Culinary no-no #731


Buried in my more than 700 Culinary no-no installments is a segment (that I can’t seem to find) about fast food items that are advertised as food porn, until you get to the restaurant. Then “big” becomes puny, as if someone sat on your burger before it got placed in that Styrofoam box.

Here’s another “We’re bigger and better” example.

It’s never like they tell you it will be.

Nothing’s ever done about the shrinkage. It’s basically let the buyer beware. But now Burger King is feeling the flame-broiled heat.

Last week a federal lawsuit filed alleged that Burger King uses oversized and inaccurate pictures to advertise and illustrate all of its Whopper-branded sandwiches—including the meat-free Impossible Whopper and the new Whopper Melts—its Croissan’wich breakfast sandwiches, and its basic hamburger and cheeseburger.

“Although the size of the Whopper increased materially in Burger King’s advertisements, the recipe or the amount of beef or ingredients contained in Burger King’s Whopper has never changed,” the lawsuit claims.

What do the plaintiffs want?

Damages, legal fees, a jury trial, and more accurate pictures of Burger King products.

Are Burger King items wimpy. Looks like the courts will decide.

Read more here.


ICYMI….Culinary no-no #730

Culinary no-no #730


Normally I wouldn’t touch this food item. Except at one particular time of year. That would be now. Lent. And only in a pinch.

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich is much-maligned. A former colleague worked at the Golden Arches when she was very young and told me that it was beyond bad, that employees wouldn’t eat it and they gave all their friends fair warning.

Reviews have been nasty. From

In a Mashed survey that included 658 participants, respondents were asked to choose between a few menu items at the restaurant and indicate which they believe is the worst. Around 38.6 percent of the customers chose to go with the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, while 28.12 percent opted for the Sweet Chili Chicken Wrap.

Why do so many people dislike the Filet-O-Fish? One Redditor offered a succinct explanation, “The fish itself is pretty bland, you mostly taste the tartar sauce they slather on it.” Another Reddit user pointed out that they’re “overpriced” and “tasteless,” adding, “You would get better value from buying various brands of frozen fish and making your own sandwich.” It seems that the general public would agree.

Former employees on Reddit say they avoid the Filet-O-Fish — or, at least ask for one that’s made fresh, as others have probably been sitting in a heating cabinet for hours. Other employees note it’s also one of those sandwiches that’s just impossible to make neatly. The combination of tartar sauce, cheese, and slightly greasy fish means that when you get it, it’s going to be a sloppy mess.

Once again the Filet-O-Fish is controversial. It all centers around…

Enter rap artist Pusha T…

What’s the controversy? Puhsa T referred to his personal dispute in the previous video.

The artist takes credit for the famous McDonald’s jingle, but feels the ginormous corporation short changed him.

So, backed by Arby’s, Pusha T is pushing back, with a musical track that blasts Mickey D’s.

“I’m the reason the whole world love it; now I gotta crush it. Filet-O-Fish is ***, and you should be disgusted.”

We know Pusha T disappoves.

All the details are here.

Meanwhile, there are no great fish sandwiches. From my blog four years ago.


About those food wrappers at fast food restaurants…

Wonderful. Biden says food shortages are coming

ICYMI…potato pancakes.