A Round Table

It could be now that I’m older I notice it more, but it seems that politeness is taking a dive. People appear to be so busy sometimes that simple manners seem to fly out the door when walking about.

Perhaps the reason I am so observant of this is two fold. First, whenever someone is polite it startles me. I’m so overwhelmed with joy to see such genuine manners that it becomes apparent to me that there may not be much of them. The second reason I notice this decline is because I’m gluten free… by necessity.

I recently read in this article by Eating Well that as many as 20 million Americans think gluten-free diets are healthier and around 13 million are giving up gluten to lose weight. Yet according to Alessio Fasano, M.D., director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children, “the vast majority of individuals on gluten-free diets have no business being gluten-free because, for them, there is no medical necessity”. He adds, “it’s simply fashion.” Jimmy Kimmel even poked fun at this trend on late-night TV, asking people on the street who were going gluten-free if they actually knew what gluten was. None could answer the question!

It’s an immediate red light when I’m dining out and the waitstaff becomes withdrawn or flippant when I tell them I’m gluten-free. I assume it’s more than they want to deal with because it’s seemingly trendy or fashionable. Maybe no one has taken the time to truly explain it to them. It’s a green light when someone steps up to the plate and wants to share their knowledge in the hopes that they can help make the meal run smoothly for you. They have a good attitude. It shows they care.

This is the reason why I frequent the same spots. You walk in and it feels like home.

It can feel like King Arthur’s Camelot when you walk into certain food markets or restaurants. By this I mean that the table of King Arthur was round, shaped so that his knights of Camelot could sit around it without anyone having precedence or being placed before others in order of priority, rank or importance.

The girls at Sushi Thai, Joseph’s Market, and also at my fave Mexican restaurant Senor Burrito, are lovely souls and remind me of The Round Table where everyone is equal, dignified, polite and courteous. All the patrons get a beautiful greeting and a big welcome. The waitstaff and employees are an asset… and good for business!

The easy thing about Sushi Thai is that the chefs are right in front of you. You’re able to see the care and attention they put into your meal. My usual waitress is also super sweet as can be and understands my need to be gluten free. Plus the sushi is always beautifully presented and so fresh. Their customer service, as much as their food presentation, is truly an art form.

It’s tricky at most Asian restaurants because soy sauce is not gluten free. It’s in almost everything that is “tossed with a sauce”, so you have to know where to go or bring your own. Sushi Thai has been schooled in gluten free and they get it. I always feel good after I go there. Not just physically, but an overall calm and peaceful feeling that makes it totally worth the trip.

My check out girl Heather at Joseph’s Market is over-the-top polite. She’s courteous and just plain happy. She gives everyone a big hello and works hard to get your order handled well. Everyone gets the same love. Guest relations is important to her… plus she’s good at it!

I don’t want special service; just a polite attitude and quality ingredients. And at these favorite places, no one—young or old, a regular or first timer—gets any better service than anyone else. 

Manners may seem to be old fashioned, but we need to be polite and keep a Round Table kind of chivalry for the benefit of those around us. There may be no actual round tables at Sushi Thai or Senor Burrito, but it feels like it because there’s always a nobleness and niceness, and the food is equally delicious each time. And always gluten free if you ask for it.

“Politeness is the flower of humanity.” — Joseph Joubert