Hello dear readers. My name is Alexander Woolcott, and this is my inaugural column for advice on fine dining and etiquette.
Many people have approached me over the years on these subjects. Some have written to me, others have approached me on the street or at my office. I realized there is quite a need for guidance on these subjects, and I believe a monthly column would be of great benefit to the public.
I will be taking questions from readers who send in requests for advice, on the whole spectrum of proper decorum while a guest in someone else's home, while in a restaurant, or in a dining hall at an affinity group convention. There are always hundreds of ways to commit a gaffe or a faux pas. And as a corollary, there are always hundreds of questions which can be asked beforehand, and therefore avoid an embarrassing and humiliating public display of uncouth behavior.
Sometimes these barbaric displays are the result of lack of knowledge on a given subject, and other times a public display of Neanderthal type manners is simply because an individual does not care that he is offending others. An excellent example is what to do with chewing tobacco juice and the tobacco itself, while walking down Fifth Avenue.
A person with impeccable manners would know that he or she should swallow the tobacco juice, rather than just spit it out onto the sidewalk or into the gutter. Furthermore, an individual with a fine upbringing would also know not to remove the actual plug of chewing tobacco in public. He or she would know that if they are finished with that tobacco plug while in public, and other people are assuredly watching, then the best course of action would be to also swallow the tobacco. Chewing tobacco today is much finer than when your grandfather or grandmother used it. Also, tobacco companies nowadays market chewing tobacco in a full rainbow of flavors, and so swallowing the plug can be quite a pleasant experience. A much better experience in fact, than having all kinds of disapproving stares when one removes that brown mass, and then places it into his pocket.
Which brings me to the initial topic and question of etiquette for this column.
Everyone knows that red wine is always served with meat, such as filet mignon. And everyone also knows that white wine is always served with fish. But what I have learned from the hundreds of letters received, is that no one knows what type of wine to serve along with vomiting.
The rule of thumb is quite simple: it is the same as the type served along with the main course. So remember: when you vomit filet mignon, vomit red wine along with it. And when you vomit fish, be sure white wine comes up along with that delightful red snapper.