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Fine Dining Madness
The rules & realities of fine dining

By John Galloway

     You've read Anthony Bourdain and know the secret behind brunch seafood frittatas. Is it now safe to dip your toe into the fine dining waters? Not until you've met John Galloway, penguin (waiter) extraordinaire, and your guide from the front of the house, where the capital E Experience occurs that is the difference between fine dining and just eating well.

      Mr. Galloway tells a bit about himself, then starts in on what to do and not do, using edged humor to drive the points home. For example, don't name drop. You look like a chump, flag yourself as a probable demanding customer who's a low tipper, and if you're faking it risk possibilities such as 'naming' the long deceased: "Is he here tonight?" " Well possibly in a metaphysical way...". Most of all, don't play nasty with a professional waiter - someone who "has a black belt in atonement" and "a code of honor" about inflicting suffering on those who inflict it on him.

     Amusing and useful stuff, but the best part is Mr. Galloway's sketches of his customers, co-workers, and experiences, told with wit and style. He can bring a co-worker to vivid life as "a dark sky full of angry clouds bound within the flesh of a madman" as readily as raise an appreciative grin at noting that "a handful of motivated bacteria could break down the entrée faster" than some unconscionably slow diners (don't rush, but don't deny a waiter his due from a reasonable turnover).

      Sure, Fine Dining Madness will teach you the rules, but read it to enjoy the author's company on a frequently riotous, usually profane insider's view behind the scenes. It's a lot of fun, including the contrasting cover illustrations, with the author in full penguin mode (and a carefully blank look that says he's had far too much to drink, is hiding thoughts about the customer in front of him, or both) and conspicuous consumption icons on the front, while the back displays the grin you can imagine telling the stories paired with images from the realities. Highly recommended for learning and laughs, and doing a bit of good, since a portion of the proceeds go to Alzheimer's research.

The Book

April 5, 2005
Non-Fiction Miscellaneous
More at
NOTE: A lot of sex, but constant references (my euphemism horizon has been vastly and amusingly broadened) rather than detailed descriptions. A fair amount of swearing

The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2005
© 2005