All Hail Marilyn Hagerty!!!

13 03 2012

OK, this really isn’t about architecture, or even art, per se; but it is about appreciating what works nicely in your sphere of influence and avoiding the pitfalls of snobbery.

Judy and I are self-proclaimed foodies and are usually very selective about the restaurants, particularly chain-restaurants, that we frequent. We happen to live in a region in which we are within driving distance of some of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in existence and enjoy sharing those experiences with family and friends. So, I was intrigued, this morning, when I saw the news clip, on television, about Marilyn Hagerty’s review of the local Olive Garden in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I was equally intrigued when I went online to read the growing number of stories about her and her review; I wondered, out loud, What did she say that was considered gouache or inaccurate?

She said:

“The chicken Alfredo was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous. My server was ready with Parmesan cheese.”

“The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.”

“My booth was near the kitchen, and I watched the waiters in white shirts, ties, black trousers and aprons adorned with gold-colored towels. They were busy at midday, punching in orders and carrying out bread and pasta.”

“All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks. It attracts visitors from out of town as well as people who live here.”

Well I, for one, agree with Ms. Hagerty; Judy and I have eaten at our local Olive Garden, many times, and have found the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the value a perfect fit into our busy schedules. One of our favorite items is the lunchtime Unlimited Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks. Yes, as Judy pointed out, the meal is high in sodium and fat but, it is still a tasty and satisfying lunch in a great atmosphere.

Now, having said that, I will go back and qualify our credentials; while we consider ourselves foodies,  we have not eaten in all of the many highly rated restaurants of the world (which food critics have?) nor do either of us carry the credentials of a highly respected food critic (and, that’s also subjective). We do, however,  consider ourselves decent cooks in our own right, eat out (a fair amount), and have friends who own “A” list restaurants; so, take the following with, at least, a grain of really good salt…

Shouldn’t going out to eat, as in art and architecture, be a gestalt experience including atmosphere, service, food quality, service, value?

We have gone out to some highly rated eateries and been profoundly disappointed; and, it was usually based on one of the criteria, above. We  are well aware that many of fine cuisine dishes, that we have enjoyed, are equally loaded in sodium and fats; we have been tortured by rude and slow service; we have had the over-done, poorly presented, freshly prepared specials; and, have paid astronomical prices for those experiences.

We have also gone into many of the national chains in which the managers and staff take great pride in their establishment; they keep it spotlessly clean and fresh; they work hard to insure that each dish is prepared precisely according to its recipe; and we have enjoyed great value in our experience and investment.

We have also lived a spent a fair amount of our lives, in smaller towns and communities where the  new chain is a welcomed addition to the local and limited selections of fast-food (and, I’m not slamming fast-food, you just need that dining experience on occasion).

So, here’s to the Marilyn Hagerty’s of the world and their efforts to provide the right perspectives for their audience; for being unbiased; for understanding gestalt; but, most of all, not being a snob.

One last comment before I close:

Judy and I have been craving KFC, lately, and i may just go out and get a bucket of “finger-licking good” for dinner, tonight!

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