Saturday, December 30, 2006

On Wearing Cowboy Hats in Restaurants

by Diningroom Diva

While we were dining in the Stack restaurant at the Mirage in Las Vegas a large group of gentlemen came in all wearing cowboy hats. As they proceeded to their table only one of the gentlemen removed his hat. The hostess quickly offered to check it for him. She glanced briefly at the others, but got no response- their hats remained firmly planted on their heads. Seemingly unperturbed, the hostess seated the rest and nodded to the server.
This interested me as I grew up in New England where gentlemen always removed their hats upon entering a restaurant -or bar for that matter. Especially the duck bills, the red wool hunter plaid with ear flaps and the foul weather gear types. It was certainly expected of all our male family members, or quietly knocked off by Dad from behind -as a gentle reminder.
In addition, gentlemen who wore felt hats often removed them very dramatically and with flourish, bespeaking of culture and breeding. I believe you still see that in Europe today.
Since we had observed the cowboy hats in many establishments in Texas and other Western cities , I decided to check with Miss Manners and Amy Vanderbilt, just in case we were ever caught wearing them ourselves. For instance at the Redford Ranch or the Hawaiian Rodeo Spa.

Well, Amy Vanderbilt doesn't even give an option for men, "men should check their hats as they arrive", however women may and should wear their hat "unless it is a rain hat or wool helmet or wind scarf". No mention of Cowgirls.

Miss Manners has a slightly different slant: "Dear Miss Manners: A certain lumpish fellow of my acquaintance contends that it is not a breach of etiquette for a man to wear a cowboy hat indoors. He states that cowboy hats are unique in this regard. My mother was always a proponent of the Mrs. Paul W. Bryant, Sr. school of thought on this subject. (You may recall that when Bear Bryant was asked why he didn't wear his trademark hat in the Astrodome, he replied that it was because his mother taught him that a gentleman doesn't wear a hat indoors.) To your knowledge has there been a special papal dispensation or whatever the equivalent is in the world of etiquette for cowboy hats?"
Miss Manners replied: "Mrs. Bryant's rule certainly applies to cowboys who wish to behave as gentlemen and, Miss Manners would like to add, to gentlemen who wish to disguise themselves as cowboys, a proliferating breed. For example, a person wearing a cowboy hat, along with a gray suit and lizard boots, in a city office building elevator, is not excused from removing the hat- no, not even if he is wearing a complete cowboy suit, with fringed jacket, jeans, and spurs that he got for Christmas. However, a genuine cowboy, wearing cowboy clothes and going about his cowboy business, does wear his hat everywhere. In other words, it is not the hat but the head that defines the man, oddly enough."
So, do women get to wear their cowboy hats to dinner? It seems so.
Would you want to ask that handsome cowboy seated next to you to remove his hat against his wishes? - Not me!. And we'll not discuss his boots at this juncture.
For a fun read and lots of up to date etiquette tips check out 'Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior'.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Healthy Dining Out

Someone commented the other day on how difficult it is to eat out at different restaurants and also stay within healthy eating guidelines. There's lots of information out there, but short of lugging around a big fat notebook - how to do?
Here is a brief guide that may help.
• Don't skip a meal on the day you are going out to eat.
• Eat a light snack (such as an apple, orange or slice of low fat cheese).
• Choose a restaurant that offers a variety of food including low fat options.
• Be aware that snacks served with wine or other alcoholic drinks are part of the meal too. We often tend to overeat when using alcohol.
• Order more plant based foods - pick salads and deserts that emphasize fruits or vegetables; look for whole-grain pasta, bread, rice and cereal.
• Order baked, not fried; grilled, not greasy.
• Ask about substitutions of lower fat,, lower carbohydrate food as side dishes.
• Taste your food before adding salt, butter, sauces or dressings.
• Order dressings on the sides of your salads.
• Substitute healthier condiments such as mustard for mayonnaise, or pepper or lemon juice instead of salt.
• Resist the desire to 'supersize' your meals.
• Make the salad your first course with plenty of veggies and fruit.
• Eat slowly.
• Order food that requires work such as crab legs.
• Order water, sparkling water or mineral water with a twist of lemon - it's filling and has no calories (most diets insist on at least 8 glasses a water per day for a reason)
• Finish the main course before you think of ordering dessert.
• For dessert consider lower fat, lower calorie options such as fresh fruit, angel food cake or sherbet.

• For more information on healthy eating check out Healthy Eating at Best Place to Eat .com