New York Times dining section writer/etiquette master Florence Fabricant was the star of the most recent episode of Evolutionaries, a half-hour radio documentary series from Heritage Radio Network. Here are a few choice tidbits of Flo Fab gab:
On restaurants that skimp on the details: "I don't know how many restaurant chefs or owners have sat in their own restaurant when it's crowded and had a meal to understand things like lighting and noise and the comfort of the seats and the tables?I was in a restaurant recently where the tables were just too high. And I'm not a small person, but somebody never sat at a chair and realized that the level of the table is practically up to their collarbone. That is uncomfortable! You're better eating at a low table than a higher table. So few people understand that."
On the Gluten-free trend: "What's going on with gluten free, I mean, I think it is so overdone, and such overkill and lack of understanding of what the problem with gluten is. Selectively, yes, I will cover certain items that are gluten free because there is a market now, and it's not just people who genuinely get sick from it."
On fearing her: "I have heard that people are afraid of me and I don't understand why they are afraid of me. They have no reason to be. By and large, what energizes me is the news. And it always has — learning something new, tasting something new, seeing somebody do something new that I hadn't been aware of. And as much food as there is out there, and goodness knows there's more than ever, there's always something new out there, and that's what fascinates me."
On new, "copycat" restaurants: "In the old days, you knew what a red sauce Italian restaurant was. You knew what the decor was going to be, you knew what the wine list was going to be, you could know the menu without even looking at it. Today, you go into any new restaurant, especially in Brooklyn, but elsewhere as well, and you know that you're going to be told about how everything that's on the walls and the floor and the table in recycled, you're going to be told how the chef sources everything from local farms, how the chef makes everything in-house from the pickles on down. It has become so copycat, that I just wonder, 'What's going on here?'?It's almost like you bought the restaurant from a catalog, and it's the same catalog everybody is using."