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How to ask a question

April 15, 2010

Food is intimidating. I know that it’s true. Having worked and eaten in numerous restaurants and frequented many farmers markets I have grown quite comfortable with all levels of approach, But people in general seem very intimidated by approaching something new. This is especially apparent in new york where so many people are tourists or transplants. If you ever do feel a bit scared about entering a restaurant just to see their menu or approaching a farm stand to see produce up close, there is no need. When a customer enters our restaurant and ask to see the menu or simply to look around we welcome them. There is nothing to fear from simply being curious. The same is true probably in any industry, but especially so in the service industry. I have seen similar trends with friends when I take them with me to the farmers market. The ones who are unfamiliar generally stand farther away from the produce as though afraid they may get caught by the farmer and be forced to interact pre-maturely. Note that the farmer, above anyone else, is intimately involved with food and has answers to your questions. You can always ask, “what is this?” “how much is this?” “how do you cook this.” Or any other question. And if they approach you, “can I help you with anything?” you can always reply, “I’m just having a look.” Looking is never an obligation for buying.

It’s funny with how connected we are through technology that we are still often so shy when forced to interact face to face. Its easier to cruise the grocery aisle at your leisure than to enter a butcher shop if you don’t know much about meat, but it is important to support small scale food producers whenever you get the chance. So curb your intimidation and make your way to the farmers market, the butcher shop, the restaurant or the wine store and simply allow yourself to be comfortable just looking. If you have any questions, ask. We, the service industry and food producers, have answers to your questions. We like talking about these things. We know how to cook and what to eat. We know what restaurants are open late, where to buy cheese and what wines to drink. We know where the food is grown and the animals are raised and we know the best places to eat and the cheapest. And If you don’t want to make a purchase today, if it doesn’t feel right, there will always be tomorrow. So step right up, step right in and if you have any questions, just ask.

If you have found yourself intimidated I would love to hear your story.

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