Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
When I first met former MenomoneeFallsNOW blogger Karen Taubenheim, she made a comment I thought was odd. Some time ago, MyCommunityNOW editor Mark Maley had convened a meeting of the community bloggers. Once the meeting concluded, seated near the back of the room, Karen and I and other bloggers talked about our blogs and writing experiences following the meeting.
One young blogger, and forgive me I can’t remember who, told me that even though he rarely agreed with me, he enjoyed reading This Just In. A few other remarks were made, and then Taubenheim chimed in, smiling.
“I really like the culinary no-no’s.”
With raised eyebrows, I responded profoundly.
“I really like the culinary no-no’s.”
There was a definite echo in the room.
“You have got to be joking.”
Taubenheim also said she wished that I posted earlier in the day and hated waiting at times until Sunday night to read. Poor woman.
The weekly Sunday blog had only been around for a few months, so I was surprised to hear Taubenheim, whose work I enjoyed and respected, single out from all my work this feature that started out as a complete whim.
Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinions, ruins brats by squirting……..ketchup on them.
No no no. Eureka! We had a blog title.
Other dining taboo’s quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. There are more food blogs than stimulus dollars, but not that many (one?) that go the opposite direction.
Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. Why? To this day, I honestly don’t know, but this effort is consistently one of my most-widely read pieces each week.
Here are the five most popular Culinary no-no’s:
5) Culinary no-no #53: This one had an “earthy” flavor
4) Culinary no-no #59: How can a fish fry be a no-no?
3) Culinary no-no #74: Do I really want to know? Must I know?
2) Culinary no-no #52: Possibly the most serious, most important no-no
1) Culinary no-no #60: BAM!
The Culinary no-no that generated the most comments: Culinary no-no #42.
Thank you very much for your continued support and interest. I am gratified, if not totally surprised.
Here’s Culinary no-no #100:
Once a week she visited our 7th grade class. A sweet, charming, bubbly lady, she hailed originally from Cincinnati, but had an accent thicker than Scarlett O’Hara’s. Her mission: to groom a bunch of 13-year old kids.
Because after all, as she often drawled, “You wanna be nice, good lookin’ and clean all over, dontcha, huhhhhhhhh?????!!!!”
Manners. We had to learn and practice good manners.
As hysterical as this may sound to some of you, I was an extremely good boy. To this day, I always try to be a perfect gentleman. I owe it all to that woman.
She hammered proper etiquette into us like a drill sergeant with a perpetual smile. Over and over and over and over and over again. Want another analogy? It was Vince Lombardi-like. Then came the real test, the time to execute.
Maybe she could sense that I was not an insensitive kid. Whatever the reason, when she issued an assignment pairing up a boy with a girl to put the grooming lessons into practice, I got matched with Sharon Clock.
Everyone in the 7th grade knew that I had a thing for Debbie Huck and vice versa since the 1st grade. Debbie was pretty, very smart and sweet, and built beyond her 7th grade status. Sharon Clock was short, dumpy, fat, and had a silver front tooth. Kids didn’t dislike her. They just pretty much ignored her.
Instead of Debbie Huck, for the next several weeks, I would shadow Sharon. I pulled out her chair. I held the door for her. I hung up her coat. I held her coat when she put it on. I carried her books. I talked nice to her.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Sharon? Is there anything I can get you, Sharon? Do you have any other request before I kill myself, Sharon?”
When you’re in the 7th grade, you possess Superman-like peripheral vision and hearing. You can see and hear the smirks and laughter as you help Little Miss Fatty into her seat.
At a Friday afternoon in-classroom party, the occasion escapes me, other kids were spinning records and dancing and laughing and joking.
“Would you like to go hang out with other kids, Sharon?”
"No, not really, Kevin.”
“Well, what do you wanna do?”
“Are you serious, Kevin?”
Her words echoed through my brain: "You wanna be nice, good lookin’ and clean all over, dontcha, huhhhhhhhh?????!!!!”
“I’d like to play chess.”
“Chess. I want to play chess."
It’s amazing how a 7th grader’s thoughts can quickly turn from good grooming to homicide in a matter of seconds. So we played chess, and I tried to ignore the 45’s blaring in the background, and the laughing, and the snickering.
This is a lengthy lead-up to the point that there are obvious differences between the sexes. That’s a very good thing. As such, in certain situations, the sexes should be treated differently. That, too, is a very good thing. This includes treatment at restaurants.
Since Fred Flintstone was ordering racks of ribs at outdoor diners, it has been customary that women and men are not served the same way.
Women get menus first.
Orders are taken from women first.
Women are presented their plates first.
Women get their plates cleared first.
Did you know that at most higher-end restaurants, software allows servers to make a note of the places at tables that dishes are going to and if the diner is female? For example, a server can punch in, “L” for “lady.”
Some upscale restaurants are moving away from gender-conscious treatment of patrons. Everybody’s the same. If a guy gets his steak served before the gal gets her broiled fish, is it cataclysmic? Of course not. I can and would argue it’s still wrong (You hear that, Mrs. Cincinnati, whoever you are?!).
One New York restaurant owner has informed staff to try to read tables to see if they’d care or not about the whole gender treatment deal. That’s pretty risky, if you ask me, especially at a time when restaurants are begging for every patron that comes through their doors. Most restaurateurs, I submit, must and should consider sex differences if they want to be successful.
NY Times dining writer Frank Bruni says these old ways could be considered, “chivalrous” or “chauvinistic.” How about, “proper?”
There’s more. Is it wrong for the proprietor of a fine dining establishment to take the female gender into consideration when designing menus, choosing the menu wording, selecting the color the dining rooms are painted, or setting the restaurant’s temperature?
Gender matters. Bruni of the NY Times concedes:
“I’m regularly struck by that difference when friends hit me up for restaurant recommendations.
Men rarely ask me about lighting. Women frequently do, wanting reassurance that it isn’t too bright.
Women more often ask if a menu has leaner, healthier options. Men more often ask if they can get a decent steak.”
The same holds true, Bruni writes, for restaurant décor:
“At the Greenwich Village restaurant Elettaria, where the bound linen dinner menu evokes a diary and elements of the décor bring to mind a dollhouse, I spotted more women than men.
At the Greenwich Village restaurant Cru, decorated in clubby brown tones and distinguished by a wine list that lets high rollers rack up breathtaking bills, I spotted more men than women.”
While women should be treated differently, they also should not get poorer service simply because they’re female.
Do they? You bet. But could that be because they’re their own worst enemies? Oh, yes.
They don’t spend as much, they yak and yak and yak and tie up a table, and they don’t tip as well as men. So what goes through a waiter or waitress’s mind when a group of 10 women get seated?
Bruni of the NY Times writes, “Although the goal in many public places and in much of public life is to treat men and women equally, most upscale restaurants haven’t reached that point.”
That’s a good thing.
Let’s keep it that way.