Surviving Dinner

Prologue: Setting the Table

Welcome friends to the introductory installment of a series of editorials recording my own personal thoughts and opinions on how to successfully navigate the classic dinner date; focusing on food, drink, and general etiquette…basically a primer for having a fancy meal without acting like a bloviating ignoramus (props to George Will for the descriptor). My goal is only to provide insight garnered from my dining experiences progressing from Zingers in the Tap Room at Pat’s Pizza and buy-one-get-one-free fajita’s at Margaritas College Night, to ordering beef Carpaccio at a Mario Batali joint or maybe even forgoing dessert for a cheese course and a good Port. I certainly don’t have any real credentials to back up my suggestions but I have lived a decade within a mile of New York City and spend a significant amount of my income eating. Hopefully this column gives some helpful tips to recent UMaine alumni moving from the familiar banks of the Penobscot to Parts Unknown.
I still vividly remember the first time I visited my adopted home state of New Jersey for an interview back when I was in my senior year at the College of Engineering. It was my first time being flown somewhere for a “real job” and I was a bit overwhelmed when I landed at EWR in the one business suit I owned and hopped into a limousine with a couple of my fellow UMaine engineers to meet our would be employer for our welcome dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant I soon realized that it was NOT the Olive Garden and I was woefully unprepared as to how to act and what to order in a business setting. Luckily I managed to make it through dessert without too much trouble and learned a few crucial lessons along the way, namely, penne vodka doesn’t actually taste like vodka, artichokes leaves are definitely not meant to be digested, and most importantly, it’s okay to have a few drinks as long as you don’t outpace your future employer…the point of this reminiscence is that I could’ve used some assistance in my early days out of Maine and I plan to throw out some of these lessons learned that could be beneficial to fresh graduates setting out on their careers and adult lives. In the least I hope to generate some discussion (post away with comments as you see fit) and provide some mildly amusing commentary. Next episode: Etiquette.        

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