Kitchen Towels Standing in for Napkins
When our most forward-thinking restaurateurs began putting kitchen towels on tables instead of napkins, it was endearing. Restaurants had been cautiously making a move toward a more casual presentation ever since the recession made spending a car payment on an ounce of caviar seem crass and insensitive. Bow-tied waiters and starched linens were out; approachable service and the warm comfort of casual dishtowels tied with butcher's twine were in. If the towels had remained an intermittent occurrence they might have maintained their initial appeal, but within just a few years they've appeared on the tables of every gastropub, farm-to-table restaurant, and any other establishment that serves craft cocktails or brunch. They're everywhere. And many of them are beginning to look a little threadbare, as if they've been in service since the trend began. If daubing your face with unsightly linens doesn't affront you, consider the lint. All towels aren't created equally, and as they've grown in popularity, restaurants have increasingly come to rely on lower-quality fabric. Draped across the legs these inferior linens have an effect not unlike an unkempt Persian cat, leaving a fine veil of fuzz that requires half a roll of masking tape to remove. Certainly we'll get back to the white linen standard eventually -- even the good trends fade. Let's relegate the kitchen towel to where it belongs: the kitchen bucket. -- Scott Reitz
Let's relegate the kitchen towel to where it belongs: the kitchen bucket.
The Gentrification of Mexican Alcohol
Time was when tequila was nothing more than a punchline to country songs, a requisite at sorority parties, and the fuel for too many frozen margarita headaches to remember. And Corona, of course, invented Cinco de Mayo and spring break. But Mexican alcohol's reputation in the United States has irrevocably changed for the better -- and that's not necessarily good. Now, everyone from Justin Timberlake to Carlos Santana is hawking tequila, and hipsters and bros alike throw around phrases like "triple-distilled 100 percent blue Webber agave" as if trying to resurrect Jose Cuervo himself. And even mescal, the moonshine of Mexico and a drink reserved there for the lushes of lushes, is a craft cocktail fave, commanding upward of $20 a shot and $40 a bottle -- and that's when you find it cheap. The results? More tequila is being produced than ever before -- but most of it is going to gabachos in the U.S., and it's put the tequila industry in such a precarious position that scientists told Businessweek that the agave plants from which tequila and mescal comes originates could disappear forever if just one infestation hits the crop. Poor Mexico: so far from God, so close to tequila-loving pendejos. -- Gustavo Arellano
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