Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clarence Darrow Is Rolling In His Grave

My Grant of a husband is not often the source of material for this blog. In general, he comports himself with sufficient decorum, at least in my presence, and has the stout good sense to avoid insufficient decorum unless he is far from my watchful eyes so that he is rarely featured here. He turned up aces yesterday, however, when he sent me a summary of a lawsuit that has an etiquette component to it.

The case is so ridiculous and hilarious that I couldn't resist sharing it with you, my Dear Graces.

In short, a diner is suing a restaurant because of a mishap with an artichoke.

Here's the story: The chap in question ordered grilled artichokes, a comestible with which he had no experience. When said dish arrived, this goon proceeded to eat the choke in toto. This included the prickly leaf ends and the fuzzy cap that must be removed before revealing the coveted heart. Whether he enjoyed this delicacy is unclear; the aftermath, however was decidedly not enjoyable. He suffered severe abdominal pain, landed in the emergency room, and required surgery to remove indigestible artichoke leaves from his lower intestines.

Unfortunate, certainly. But the restaurant's fault for not instructing the patron on how to eat the artichoke? Certainly not. What's next, suing Tolstoy's estate because Anna Karenina's suicide upset you? Or your manicurist when you arrive home and chip your polish opening your mail? (If only....then I'd be one wealthy Grace.)

Some of us learned to eat artichokes at our nanas' knees. Others learn on Youtube:

Still others manage to go through a relatively fulfilled life without ever learning. The bold among us ask the waitron. But didn't we learn in kindergarten one of those hard, fast, ironclad rules: "When in doubt, DON'T put it in your mouth." Granted, this largely applied to gluesticks, crayons, legos and pigtails, but if the Manolo fits wear it. If you are eating something that is shearing off the roof of your mouth and shredding your esophagus, chances are it is not designed for human consumption. Spit it out (discretely, of course) and wait for the next course.

But this brings up another lesson from Kindergarten: "If you don't ask questions you won't learn the answer." So, Graces, there's nothing wrong with asking. If a dish arrives that you find confusing or intimidating, speak up. The server is there to ensure that your meal is a success; his tip depends on it. The momentary embarrassment you suffer in trying to handle the snail tongs will shrink when you taste the first bite of escargot with hazelnut garlic butter, I promise.

Should you be interested, find further details on the artichump lawsuit here.

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