Tuesday 26 September 2017

Surpassing Leo Burnett. An open letter to Kindle.

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Dear Kindle,
Leo Burnett once said "We want consumers to say, 'That's a hell of a product' instead of, 'That's a hell of an ad.'"
He didn't even think of an ad when consumers would be saying: "What the hell?"

Well done, Kindle. Let me congratulate you with a new approach to advertising "Are you in or are you out?" by Tanya Kosh. It might be not necessarily the book the poor Kindle reader would ever buy. But clearly the one which would be hard to forget.

Thursday 21 September 2017


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Continuing the topic of fast food.

In-depth interviews are the best method to get to the heart of the matter. They are long, they are expensive, they are hard to conduct sometimes. Especially if the incentive you offer to the respondent is to buy them lunch. Not the best choice, I agree. How can you ask your questions with a mouth full? How can you understand the answer if the person opposite the table is trying to combine the process of being interviewed with claiming his incentive? But depending on the topic, this could be your best choice ever. And how else can you get an opinion from a hard working young men (apparently the most underrepresented group in any research).

"Hi, Ben," - I say. "can I invite you for lunch? Need to ask a couple of questions for my forthcoming book".
Ben is young, smart and busy.
"Of course," - he says. (I am his mother's friend. Recruitment is easy). "But I have a rather short lunch break. Shall we go for some quality-fast ?"

There is even a Facebook page called "Quality-Fast". Or should I say was? (translation on the picture below is provided by Facebook itself).

Ben is still to select his quality-fast (good food with blitz-service).
But I have some findings already: Quality-Fast is useful. Not easy to find, at least in the viscinity of Ben's office. Doesn't work in French (see the Facebook screenshot above). 

Sunday 17 September 2017

Fast Food with Imperial Touch.

Let us know what you think about table manners.

Celebrities do help to sell. Quite a few years ago I talked to the editor-in-chief of one of the many glossies about writing columns. She said that the rules are simple - a bit about celebrities, a bit about yourself, something useful for the reader [to learn], something funny to laugh about, something glamorous to enjoy [and somehow to relate to]. And don't forget the loop - finish with the reference to what you started with. What she forgot to mention was, in my book, the most important rule - a strong opinion. And that's what I have today. I strongly believe that  boiled beef in Plachutta, " a synonym for Viennese cuisine" (their own rather humble statement) is nothing else but fast food. A glamorous version of it with several outlets in Vienna.

Yes, it takes a while to boil beef. But if you put it on the hob in the morning, it is ready by lunch time. You don't even have to do much. Add some vegetables to bones and meat, roast them slightly before putting into the pot with water. Add herbs, salt, pepper to the pot, stir and remove the froth when it boils (or strain it) for clarity. This is nearly it. And then simmer and simmer and simmer... for a very long time.  The later you order your lunch there, the softer the meat. Tried and tested. Dinner's beef is impeccable. It melts in the mouth.

Boiled beef and accessories (e.g., potatoes and spinach) concept is simple. It is the same recipe cooked for years. It nears perfection. No extra movements, no frills, no extras, no need for special staff training. And it shows. Meat (they call it "tafelspitz") is served within five minutes of ordering. More difficult with drinks - the lack of training shows. The young, friendly and by the end of the evening slightly embarrassed waiters (all men. No women - this is, I believe, another part of the concept) come to our table at least five times with other people drinks.

Boiled beef concept is clearly cost efficient. Guaranteed volumes and consistency of orders are clearly reciprocated by discounted prices of suppliers. The relationships are long-standing and rather close. Plachutta claims they can trace each cow they boil to its birth. It remains unknown if the employees have to visit the calves and bring them carrots. Or whatever alpine cows consider to be a treat.  Possibly not, as it would add to the cost. Prices in Plachutta are high for fast food, but reasonable for a tourist trap.

Boiled beef is a status food. Lunch time choice for business meetings in the centre of Vienna. You have to book well in advance. You don't expect the favourite dish of the Austrian Emperor to be readily available at a short notice, do you? Even if takes no time at all to get it to you when you are at the table.

Boiled beef is a powerful concept. Emperor's favourite food doesn't leave much room to anything else. Pudding (desert) is obviously a poor relative whose name  no one knows. How otherwise you can order soufflé and be presented with something remotely resembling Victoria Sponge with some custard filling?

How it works/ the table manners for long-boiled beef (do not read if even the thought of offal makes you sick):

How it looks:

fast food noun uk /ˌfɑːst ˈfuːd/ us /ˌfæst ˈfuːd/

Celebrities help to sell. Royalties - even more so. Apparently, some food flies off the shelves due to Prince George. His school lunch menu has been published recently.

I am waiting for Plachutta's drive-through openings, though I am a bit wondering whether it would be only Bentleys and Porsches allowed to get a take-away. OK, and horse-driven carriages. There are plenty of those in Vienna.

Fast food is food. Fine if you want it fast. But it remains what it is - fast food. Even if there is an imperial touch to it.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Oktoberfest starts in September.

Let us know what you think about table manners.

In fact, as early as the day after tomorrow. It starts on the 16th of September, this coming Saturday.

Table manners constitute an important part of cultural competence whether you travel on business or for pleasure. Or host people from other countries in your hometown. A trifle, like how you like your beer served can leave you out, preventing you from joining in and enjoying the fun.

Say you are English and go to Oktoberfest in Munich. You like beer; it is your drink of choice. You anticipate your first mass (beer mug 1, holds 1 litre). You know how you like your beer to look, how you like it to taste. And here it comes. With a beer head a third of a mug tall. That’s how they do it in Germany. Beer should have a head. Even if you serve it at home.

Many English friends and colleagues of mine felt puzzled. Andrew even asked the waiter directly “and where is one-third of my beer?” He felt cheated. Paid for a whole litre and got two-thirds of it.

Germans coming to England and getting their pints full, clean and clear are known for asking publicans not “to kill the best there.”[i]

A colleague of mine, Karsten, sporting a rather depressed face after his first pint served “according to the local” standards at Highgate pub, which he insisted was frequented by Karl Marx, went as far as getting beyond the bar and grabbing the bartender’s hand in order to ensure he gets his beer the way he likes it. Karl Marx, still in Highgate, just a few hundred meters away down the hill, surely approved.[ii] The bartender wasn’t amused.

According to Euromonitor International data, reported by Telegraph.co.uk (Akkoc, 2014), Germany consumes an estimated 110 litres of beer per person totalling nearly 9bn litres per year in total. UK – only half of the total amount, 4.3bn litres, which translates into 67 litres per capita. Maybe beer with the head really knows better when it comes to sales?
Differences in how you serve alcohol are not limited to beer only. The British “large glass” of wine doesn’t exist in Austria. Serve it and you would be considered a low class alcoholic. You can order a “viertel” (quarter, the same 250 ml<) but it will be served in the jug and the waiter will pour only something like 125 or even less in your glass.

[i] You can read more on how to pour different beer German style here: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-pour-beer-like-a-german-2015-8?IR=T
[ii] Karl Marx is buried in Highgate Cemetery East. He moved to London in 1849 and died there in 1883.

"Are You in or Are You Out? Inclusivity and Exclusivity of Table Manners: A light-hearted journey into a rather serious matter" by Tanya Kosh (How to Eat: All around Table Manners Book 1)

Wednesday 2 August 2017

The table manners of pets.

Let us know what you think about table manners.

Somewhere in Austria, in the middle of nowhere there is a lovely restaurant with a beautiful outside area. Cows on the hill, something like 5 meters away do not bother neither visitors, nor the owners. But dogs do. They inspired the owner to add a little poem to his menu saying, basically, that he doesn't mind having the dogs in the restaurant sitting on the chairs or benches as long as they have table manners. And use the cutlery.
The table manners of dogs are universal concern. And teaching dogs and the restaurant staff good table manners up to the level of certificate is no joke.  Say, for example, Venice.

According to mysuncoast.com the following regulation is in place:
In order to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public, a restaurant is prohibited from having any dog on its premises unless it possesses a valid city permit for Dog Friendly Dining. All permits issued are subject to the following requirements, according to the city code:
•    All restaurant employees shall wash their hands promptly after petting or otherwise handling any dog. Employees shall be prohibited petting or otherwise handling any dog while serving food or beverages, or handling tableware or before entering other parts of the restaurant.
•    Patrons in a designated outdoor area shall be advised that they should wash their hands before eating. Waterless hand sanitizers shall be provided at all tables there.
•    Employees and patrons shall be instructed that they shall not allow dogs to come into contact with tabletops, serving dishes, utensils, tableware, linens, paper products, or any other items involved in food service operations.
•    Dogs shall not be allowed to eat any food.
•    Patrons shall keep their dogs on a leash at all times and keep their pets under reasonable control.
•    Dogs shall not be allowed on chairs, tables or other furnishings.
•    All table and chair surfaces shall be cleaned and sanitized with an approved product between seating of patrons. Spilled food and drink shall be removed from the floor or ground between seatings as well.
•    Accidents involving dog waste shall be cleaned immediately and the area sanitized with an approved product. A kit with the appropriate materials for this purpose shall be kept near the designated outdoor area.
•    At least one sign reminding employees of Doggy Dining rules shall be posted in a conspicuous location frequented by employees within the restaurant.
•    At least one sign reminding patrons of the rules shall be posted in a conspicuous location within the designated outdoor area.
•    At all times while the designated outdoor section of the restaurant is available to patrons and their dogs, at least one sign shall be posted in a conspicuous and public location near the entrance to the designated outdoor area, to place patrons on notice that the section is currently available to patrons accompanied by their dog.
•    Dogs shall not be permitted to travel through indoor or undesignated outdoor portions of the restaurant, and ingress and egress to the designated outdoor area shall not require entrance into or passage through any indoor or undesignated outdoor portion of the eatery.
•    All restaurants participating in the Dog Friendly Dining program shall provide and maintain a drinking water station for patrons' dogs and dogs in general.
Anyone at a restaurant observing these rules being broken – such as dogs on patrons' laps or eating food at the table, or servers not washing their hands after petting a dog – should contact the city Code Enforcement Department by calling 941-486-2626.

Monday 5 June 2017

Friday 12 May 2017

When no money is expected.

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The rules of the game dictate that if you go out and order your meal, you normally have to pay the bill. But we guess not if you 've been warned in advance you didn't have to. Nobody know whether he paid. But he definitely showed up.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

The space between the bites.

Let us know what you think about table manners.

We were on the way back from the classical music concert. I was in the middle of trying to explain politely why no applause is expected between the movements. And than she said :" but you are just a snob!" We are still friends though. And she doesn't clap anymore between Largo and Allegretto. At least when I am there. Pretentious? Moi?

I would prefer to see myself as a holistic perceiver. The one that sees the shapes and the spaces in between as a whole. As one piece of art where shapes and emptiness are united in a way which creates the beauty of the whole. Where shapes can not be detached from the emptiness which actually makes them the shapes. The beauty of a shape doesn't exist without some space around it.

The same about food. Space full of conversations, delightful activities. Attentive listening. Productive activities. Or mindless wondering.
If you eat non-stop you just simply lose it. The beauty of eating goes away.
A lovely, much more down-to-earth piece about this. Full of irony too.

Public eating is fraught. If hotdogs at the cinema are OK, why not a bacon bap at a play?

Sunday 19 March 2017


Let us know what you think about table manners.

A gala , according to vocabulary.com
is a big party. If you're going to a gala, you'll want to wear your fanciest ball gown — you'll want to look great for the best party of the year. A gala often features entertainment and dinner, and sometimes dancing and an auction. It's like a prom — but for adults.

A Gala Dinner requires at least a starter, a soup, some sorbet to clean your palate before entrée, a pudding, demitasse and some after dinner mints or equivalent.

There are wild galas. Some of them are charity events to protect wild life of all sorts, some of them were held to celebrate Jack London, the author of the Call of the wild and many more great books, some galas are simply just wild. And for adults only. Many people keep the menus from those gala dinners they attended. Easier than keeping clear memories after seven courses accompanied by "pairing" wines.Everyone at some point thinks about putting together his or her favourite recipes. Not only mothers-in-law dreaming about the wives of their sons bringing the sweet childhood memories to the table. A sure way to be at the table at least in spirit, even if they don't think much about inviting you in person. Some even publish them.

But nothing compares to Gala's dinners. Or to be precise,  Les Dîners de Gala by Salvador Dalí.
It  is definitely a book for adults. Most of the chapters are about aphrodisiacs. It is surreal. But it is not enough to be Dali to create a masterpiece like that. You need Gala to dine with.

“One can choose not to eat; one cannot accept to eat poorly,” said Salvador Dalí

Gala was a Russian born wife first of Paul Éluard and later of Salvador Dalí. She inspired many authors and writers, her dinners were most famous. They were not about healthy eating, far from it. The dinners were more of performance rather than cooking. Like the whole life created and managed by Gala for her Dali. This book is not a cult of dinner. It is a cult of Gala.
Enjoy watching. But don't try it at home.

Wednesday 15 March 2017


Let us know what you think about table manners.

UK family spends on average more than £45 a week on restaurants and hotels for the first time in five years, according to the Office for National Statistics report "Family Spending in the UK".

Londoners are spending even more.

Do people care more about table manners when they go out more often? Apparently, yes. But not in a way you would necessarily expect. At least not according to Jemma, a young marketing manager based in Fitzrovia.

I want to relax when I go out. I won't go to places where they expect me to use five sets of cutlery. I won't go out with people who judge others, especially if the judgement is based on forks and knives. Eating should not be complicated. And going out should be fun not trial. It is enough I visit my grandparents twice a year.

A few minutes later into conversation and Jemma makes her own judgement. About the girl who drinks her gin with a straw. It is not a done thing in Jemma’s circles. The full sausage hanging on the fork and gnawed on each side in turns is fine. But a straw in a glass… How further low can you go?

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Table manners start well before you get to the table.

Saying where table manners start and where they end is not that easy. Yes, there is a word “table” in it, but you cannot say that the table manners apply only to the things we do around the table. What about cocktail parties? OK, then. Is it everything around food? That’s closer. It is considered to be a bad manner to serve food which is out of season. And no doubt serving the food which is slightly off is no go either. Hence the infographic below has a lot to do with table manners. How to keep your food fresh longer.

Monday 16 January 2017

And more about cutlery... How NOT to eat


This is not about being left handed. This is NOT about not using your left hand for eating.

This is more about how you hold it. Stabbing of food might be OK as a first step for a toddler. Just to get interested in using the cutlery . But some interests might be better left behind when you grow up...

(Thanks to the model!)

Sunday 15 January 2017

We know what you ate ...

Let us know what you think about table manners.

Keeping a diary of what you eat is not an easy thing to do.  Answering the stranger's question on what went into your mouth is even more difficult.

Apparently, the majority of people get it wrong when reporting on food consumption of yesterday. Or just don't want to open up. It is, after all, not that easy to admit even to yourself that yes, you did eat that second piece of cake.

The bigger people are, the more modest they seem to be when it comes to the dreading "What did you eat last night?" question.

But you don't have to say a word, not any more.  And you possibly wouldn't.  Doesn't sound like a dinner table topic.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

New Year - new rules?

www.howtoeat.net Let us know what you think about table manners.

"There are plenty of media features on etiquette starting with “There isn’t enough respect to X Y Z today.” It is a famous old adage you would find to a certain extent in any generation when people start noticing that police and doctors look a bit like children. Etiquette is changing together with the society, as good manners are there to keep society progressing, not to hold it back.
“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” (Socrates, 2016) .
Nothing has changed, I have to admit—just the means for chatting."

The rules of snobbery are changing too. And as it has been published in Tatler, it might be official.
Apparently, paper napkins are in. But cleaning your fork with your knife in the mid-air is still out.


Has your own list of rules changed?