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Just wondering…

I would like to ask you a question … what is more important – service or product? If you go somewhere, like to a restaurant, and the food is amazing but the service is horrible, will you brave the service again for the sake of a good meal? Or, is it the other way around – you will sacrifice on food for the sake of a great server? I know that ideally we want the entire experience to be wonderful, but where are you willing to skimp?

I am working on starting a company sharing my expertise in guest service, so I would like to ask you for the sake of market research if you will cast your vote in this debate. Please feel free to post other comments as well; I want your opinion!


"in Flanders fields, the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row..."

One of the things I do in my free time is to volunteer as a Girl Guide leader. I have had the good fortune to watch a number of local girls grow up as they have gone from Brownies to Guides and now to Pathfinders (in other words, through elementary school and now on to middle school). I am proud of the fact that one of our yearly service commitments is to attend the community Remembrance Day ceremony. It is a sombre affair, of course, made more so by the weather. It has been my observation that November 11th is never a bright, sunny day. Perhaps Mother Nature, too, is making a gesture. (I am glad that our local ceremony is indoors, not for the sake of the kids, but rather for the veterans who I am sure have seen their fair share of hard weather.)

I am including a post below that I wrote for a  weekly column on a local website. As I thought of all the comforts we enjoy and that were sacrificed by those that serve in battle, it occurred to me that the topic of comfort food was rather a propos. I wonder what comfort food is for soldiers… my uncle was a Captain in the Canadian Air Force and I remember sampling some of the K rations that they give out. It didn’t seem very comforting to my brother and I as kids, but away from home in the cold and the mud, perhaps a simple can of scrambled eggs and ham might bring back a glimmer of light on a dreary day.

The minister who spoke at the ceremony today spoke of the Golden Rule and how that principle exists in all cultures and religions, and it is most often the cause for which people serve (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”). I was heartened to hear him include the Earth in his list of entities and groups. We all deserve to be treated as equals, and to enjoy a sustainable life on this planet of ours.

Cheers to you, comrades, and thank you.


What is comfort food in today’s world?

 When I was a kid, my favourite comfort food was my Mom’s tuna casserole. It was one of those “soup can” recipes, I think – it had a can of mushroom soup in the sauce part of the recipe, and it basically involved layering canned tuna, sliced mushrooms and cooked pasta in a casserole dish with the mushroom soup, and baking it in the oven. Not fancy, but good stuff. Mom used to jazz it up with those crunchy Chow Mein noodles you could get at the grocery store, and when I got older we upgraded to include chopped herbs with the soup and a bit of grated cheese on top. I wonder, in today’s world of rushing around from work to soccer practice while dropping off someone at zumba or scouts, does anyone ever sit down for a simple meal anymore, or is that kind of dinner relegated to the drive-thru window?

 I have written before about my memories of foods I class as favourites, easily included in the “comfort” category. Many of them are not homemade treats (Oreos are a good example) but often they did involve a homespun angle to them, like the glass of milk that had to go with the Oreos. I guess part of my comfort always came from the memory of being safe at home when the tradition was established. Then having that same thing again somewhere else is still comforting. (This must have been the reason I insisted on carry my teddy bear everywhere we went too…) You can recreate the original feeling even if the people or place are not with you, and your heart is warmed in the same way.

 I know that memorable visits to restaurants can certainly fit in this category too – my cousins used to love going to White Spot as a family. They claimed the burgers were in a class by themselves. I still contend that part of this experience was the shared quality time as a family, though, don’t you think? I am not convinced that time shared as everyone slams back a burger in their seat on the way to the next appointment could count similarly.

 I know, I’m old fashioned. Some of my friends who have children would likely say I don’t understand the pressures of the schedule of today. I have to stand my ground on this one: I believe that spending time around a dining table with friends and family is key to having a happy soul. It doesn’t have to be every night, but on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be homemade, but that adds to the memory. Do you want your kids to leave your house only knowing how to open a box and heat things up for dinner, or do you want them to have some ammunition for starting a healthy life of their own?? Maybe your quality night could be about everyone pitching in to make dinner.

 To those of you who already do these things, I applaud you. Please keep up the good work. Share your wisdom with your friends. Let’s not move to the future with only things like Timmy’s commercials as the warm, fuzzy moments of how we share food and drink together.

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