Submitted by Erroll on November 18, 2013

“How is everything tasting?”

I’m not sure when it started, but at some point, servers in restaurants, when coming around to your table to check on you, started asking “how’s everything tasting?”, rather than the formerly prevalent “how is everything?”. It seems as if a universal email went out to all wait staff everywhere, with the decree that this is now the proper way to phrase the question. But while it’s no longer a new practice, it still grates on my ears whenever it’s asked of me. I mean, this is FOOD: When asking about someone’s satisfaction regarding food, isn’t the sense of taste implied? Are they otherwise expecting someone to reply, “Well, it TASTES great, but it looks disgusting and smells terrible”? To me, asking “how’s everything” instead would imply not only the food, but also the congeniality and promptness of service, the atmosphere... ie, the overall experience. By narrowing the inquiry down to taste only, it seems to make the statement that the establishment doesn’t much care about the patron’s OVERALL satisfaction! I think this is the aspect of it that disturbs me: I can prepare all sorts of wonderful food in my kitchen, and for a fraction of the price of eating out. What I feel I’m paying for when dining out is the experience as much as the food, and it is my satisfaction with that experience that this new question (besides its annoying redundancy) seems to deliberately avoid.

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Even worse, in Norwegian, we have "smakte det?", which literally means "did it taste?". I've always hated that way of saying it, because the answer might be "Yes, it tasted terribly!".

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@Erroll
I'm with you. "How's everything?" or "Everything OK" do seem to be more appropriate than "How's everything tasting?".

@Gustav
Same problem exists in German.

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The best practice is, of course, to encourage waiting or any other serving staff to use their own language rather than a formulaic question, whatever the question is. John Cleese used to be involved in an educational TV company, and in one programme on retail sales suggested there were two questions sales staff should never ask a customer - "Can I help you?" and "Who's next?"

I also remember a management guru suggesting that in a McDonalds in Bristol, for example, they shouldn't be saying "HI, how are you today" (which makes absolutely no sense to a Brit when it comes from a complete stranger), but rather "Hello my lovely, what can I get you?" or something to that effect.

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So glad someone else noticed this. I like the "universal email" theory.

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