What would I do without you guys? Your e-mails and your letters offer endless entertainment and, sometimes, (welcome) controversy. Like these:
* From Alexandra Murphy, in response to a column bemoaning how artificial foods are taking over American taste buds:
"My friend makes the best homemade macaroni and cheese. One day, she was too tired and too busy to bake her usual Friday batch. So she made a box of Kraft.
"Her 5-year-old ate it enthusiastically -- consuming more than she ever had of the 'real' stuff. Well into her second bowl, little Margaux proclaimed, 'Mom you're a good cooker.'
"Perhaps someday all Americans will have the palate of a 5-year-old."
That day may be here already. As the mother of a little boy who consumed a box of Kraft dinner at least four times a month until he reached maturity, I completely identify. And maybe all of you out there do, too.
* From Rick Gradwohl in response to a column in which I said that servers introducing themselves was, to put it kindly, unnecessary: "I do like to know who my server/waiter/waitress or whatever the term is. Eating is a social experience -- we like to eat with people and I like to call someone by their proper name. The server is important to our meal and I enjoy a certain degree of familiarity with them.
"I will often ask them what is good on the menu or what they like; sometimes I may say that I feel like having fish and ask them for a suggestion.
"It is also good to know who your server is, so that you can summon them if needed or ask to send them over. (I hate to say, 'please send the tall guy with red hair over here.')"
I think a good server is important. But I don't know why you have to know a name to get it. You could just say "send my server over please."
And as far as asking for recommendations goes -- good luck to you. Sad fact is that most servers are so badly trained that they barely know the menu, let alone knowing what an item tastes like. How many times have you asked, "What's good here?" Only to get the answer, "Everything is good."
(And that answer in itself, I might mention, is almost always a total lie.)
* Speaking of lies (or misdirection anyway) I underestimated the geographical acumen of readers when I wrote the column last week about eating lobster three times one day while in Maine.
Let's be kind and call it poetic license. I did not identify one restaurant by name but I said it was in Damariscotta; I also talked about a lighthouse view.
Readers immediately recognized the restaurant as Shaw's Fish and Lobster Bar anyway, and yes, it really is in New Harbor, not Damariscotta. (Take Route 129 out of Damariscotta and you're there.)
Mea culpa: I also exaggerated the lighthouses. "I thought I could guess the restaurant you described, but the lighthouses are throwing me off," e-mailed George V. Winger of Pennsylvania, who summers in Youngstown.
Well, er, they were "nearby," too. And yes sir, the closest one is indeed the working Pemaquid Light, scaffolded right now, but such a beauty it's on the Maine 25-cent piece.
Promise: I will never try to fool any of you again.