In case you didn't come to this conclusion on your own, I'm the sort of guy who's always looking for signs that the world is coming to an end. Or at least civilization as we know it. I'm sorry, but I need to pass on this latest nugget, suggesting that maybe the end has already arrived.
The New York Times -- yes, the Times again; it's the best newspaper in the world, if news of the world matters to you even a little bit -- just ran a story by one of its food critics. The story was about the trend at restaurants, even very fancy ones, to not only ask if you want bottled water versus tap, but also only provide bread if you request it.
That's right: bread and water, the things they give the poor wretches who land on Devil's Island or are imprisoned on Game of Thrones. Don't expect it, because it ain't coming unless you ask nicely.
Restaurants have been trying to push bottled water for some time now: "Sparkling or flat?" is another way of asking, "May we add $8 to your bill?" The irony of ordering bottled water in New York City is rich, as Gotham's tap water is as good as anything coming from a bottle.
But bread? Come on, we've come to your restaurant, hungry and ready to order an appetizer, an entrée, a few side dishes, maybe even dessert, but you'll begrudge us a scrap of bread to nibble on while we await our service?
While I'm on the subject, I have to add another pet peeve that I see occurring with increasing frequency (but not addressed in The New York Times, which means that I've scooped The New York Times). It's the practice of rounding up a bar or restaurant tab, if you're paying by cash, so as not to complicate things with change.
In other words, your bar tab is $19.20 (I should be so lucky as to have so meager a bar tab), you pay with a $20, and get no change in return. At first, I thought it was an oversight. I'm a pretty sporty guy with money, and a good tipper, so the 80 cents is not my issue. I just resent that someone has decided that I shouldn't care about small amounts of money.
And I can't even complain, because when I do, the bartender inevitably becomes indignant, and says that if the 80 cents is such a big deal, they'll pay for the drink, thank you very much! So not only am I being bamboozled, but I'm also being called a deadbeat for complaining.
If I had to choose one, I'd take the bread over the tap water or the change due me. I love bread a lot. I could live on a diet of bread and water, if only I could find a restaurant that would serve it.