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slate water snob article

  • psb Apr 27, 2007 04:34 AM
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http://www.slate.com/id/2165124

i really would have liked to have overheard somebody request the water sommelier ...
and them maybe just say "i'll have the tap water".

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  1. I think in his effort to make a point about reverse snobbery he totally overlooked the social justice-inspired movements against bottled water. And the contention that there is a conflict between "clean water" and "clean air" makes for a cute sentence, but contradicts his own assertion that tap water is plenty clean.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/0...

    PS thought the water sommelier thing was a joke... I know it was/is an upsell trend but that was taking it too far. Ridiculous and I would avoid a restaurant that advertised such a thing.

    1. I still don't understand what's so snobby about wanting to drink something that doesn't taste like metal, rust, chlorine, or plastic with my dinner. If tap water tasted as good as all of these anti-bottled water advocates claim, I'd drink it. Of course, most bottled water tastes worse than tap (Dasani is truly dreadful), which is why all bottled water gets such a bad rep.

      I'm all for the free reverse osmosis trend in restaurants. Sometimes, I don't want to splurge on a $7 bottle of still, but I still want something drinkable with my meal. IMO, it's less about sustainability, and more about the restaurant wanting patrons to drink good tasting water with their food.

      And don't even say that all water tastes the same, or that water tastes like "nothing." I've done blind taste tests. All waters have a distinct flavor, and most tap and bottled water just tastes bad.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        If you haven't, it's worth doing those blind tests of tap water at different times of the year. There are seasonal taste variations.

        More about Bay Area tap water -
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/28711

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Fascinating thread, Melanie. Thanks for the link.

      2. I think the reverse snobbery thing is a bit overstated. The point is about sustainability (and no I'm not hugging a tree right now). While I like and drink Pellegrino and other mineral waters, I do see the absurdity of shipping it half way around the world. It doesn't make a huge amount of sense.

        I'm not sure why local restaurants don't serve Calistoga or Crystal Geyser (both local) except maybe that they tend to over-carbonated. That seems like a pretty good alternative...maybe they need to put it in green bottles (seriously, half of it's perception). Any way, I think if SF or EB water is filtered, it's pretty darn good, both do come from the Sierra. I drink it (filtered) all the time.

        6 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          I agree, filtered tap water is just fine to excellent in many places, especially in SF. We have an undercounter filter from Sears installed in the cold water line that runs to one of those little gooseneck faucets next to our regular faucet. So it doesn't filter the water we use for dishes or for cooking, but does filter our drinking water. We just purchased a carbonating unit from Sodaclub.com and now we're making our own bubbly water from our filtered drinking water. Its pretty amazing and dirt cheap.

          I think a basic filtering system and a carbonating system in restaurants would be great. In fact, its one of those things that could work out well for everyone. They could offer carbonated/sparkling water for a low price ($2 a liter, for example) which would save those that want sparkling water with dinner a lot and still make the restaurant a little bit on the water.

          1. re: ccbweb

            I used to work at the Alameda County Water District and I remember our education and outreach guy used to do a blind taste test with the classrooms he visited. He would bring water from Palo Alto, which comes from Hetch Hetchy, and water from our water system which is a mix of groundwater in Fremont, desalinized water from Newark and Hetch Hetchy and therefore it had a higher mineral/salt concentration. The people who grew up in Fremont thought the Palo Alto water tasted gross because they were used to that particular mix whereas the Palo Altans thought vice versa. Preferences seem to be rooted in what we had growing up and not so much a universal standard of taste although I have to throw in the caveat that the Bay Area's water is some of the cleanest in the country. Of course, your piping may affect the taste as well so I use a Brita filter since I live in an old building. However, bottled water is generally a scam. Alhambra draws its water from the groundwater in Union City, which is actually a very industrialized town with no snow-capped mountains. Of course, I detest the production and wasting of so many plastic bottles as I work in the environmental field so that colors my opinion but I shall step off my soapbox now.

            1. re: jeffreak

              I'm right there with you jeffreak. Installing the inline water filter was one of the best moves we've made and allows us to be water snobs without spending money on it. Its a good thing because my wife and i have totally different preferences about bottled water (though we share the preference to not drink it at all).

              As for growing up with something, I totally agree. I grew up in Great Falls, VA and our property bordered two national parks, so it was a pretty clean place. There were about 100 acres around us that weren't built on in addition to the parks. Our water came from a well...and was delicious in ways I can still remember. My mother was a fabulous cook and when we would come to the bay area to visit my grandparents every summer she would pack up a cooler full of stuff along with plenty of ice to keep it chilled (back when you could bring such ridiculous things on a place). My grandmother was often at least as excited about the ice (which she would save and then drink over the next week or so) as she was the food.

            2. re: ccbweb

              How do you like the Sodaclub.com carbonation maker? I've been looking at some bottle ones that use CO2. I know I'll use it, just not sure how often.

              BTW, I know they still deliver old fashion bottle seltzer in NYC, wonder why no figured that out here. That would be local and the water is fine.

              1. re: ML8000

                http://www.seltzersisters.com/

                1. re: ML8000

                  We're, quite frankly, amazed by it. When we carbonated the first bottle and tasted it we just started laughing because it was so easy and worked so well. We were talking a night or two ago about the money we've already saved in the 6 weeks since we got it. I'm a big fan and couldn't reccomend it more highly for basic fizzy water. I did not like the soda mix products that they sell at all (strange, in my opinion, mix of natural and artifical sweeteners even for the non-diet options). But, for plain fizzy water, it comes out to about 17 cents a liter. We love it and we plan to get everyone we know one for the holidays this year.

                  One of the things we like a lot is that you can vary the amount of carbonation in a bottle. We had some friends staying for a week who prefered a less carbonated water than we like. The flexibility is nice.

                  Thanks for the link, Melanie, I'll give their syrups a try.

            3. NYT weighs in:
              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/din...