I have yet to see a fine restaurant where someone doesn’t whip out the peppe rmill. Like I would want someone else to add pepper to my food? I need to look up the historical reason for this practice. Was it because pepper was too dear to trust in the hands of diners? Perhaps they might steal it or something. Was it so the waiter could flourish his abilities and perhaps increase his tips? Was it because too many idiots broke the pepper mill?
But there are big pepper mills, small pepper mills, fat ones, skinny ones, metal-glass-plastic. Never seen one in silicone but the very thought makes me shudder. A recent innovation has been the advent of pre-loaded pepper mills in the grocery’s spice section. Rather than mess around with loading in peppercorns, wiping them off the counter and hearing them go crunch under foot you can neatly and cleanly purchase your pepper (white, black, mixed) in a lovely clear dispenser loaded and ready to go.
I am assuming that the pepper mill pre-dated the current salt/pepper shaker combination. You know – those pairs of containers sitting on the table with holes in the top that plug up at the slightest hint of moisture. If you are lucky – they have S & P on them so you have a clue. Otherwise, all you can do is guess if the one with the single big hole is the Salt and the tiny holes that refuse to dispense anything are supposed to be providing a bit of sharp to liven up your meal. I know that I am not the only one with the confusion, witnessing more than one person shaking the dispenser over their palm and waiting with baited breath to see how they are rewarded.
I suppose it is better than the salt cellars that still graced the tables of the FASC Officer’s mess. With the current concerns about Norovirus and its wonderful cousins, the idea of someone taking a pinch of salt out of a communal container just makes me shudder. The alternative, the small shovel leads to excessive use of salt. Ships at least manage to do that and need no further encouragement.
Recently the brilliant people who developed the all ready filled pepper mill have come out with mills containing salt in various forms to include sea salt. I am surprised they have not yet arrived on ship providing the waitstaff with the opportunity to flourish not one but TWO mills over the food already starting the grinding movement prior to even asking. Salads, soups, mains. The only time I have not had them offer is over Indian and sweets. They always look so heart broken when I give them the “are you nuts” glare. But how do I know whether or not I want anything added? To blithely agree implies a knowledge of the particular chef’s seasoning and I am not going to make anyone stand there while I decide.
Would it be rude if I traveled with my own pepper and salt mills, whipping them out after I tasted the food?