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lemon in ice water

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as per another recent thread:

I'd never encountered the expectation of lemon slices in restaurant ice water until living in the Midwest. I never saw it in Texas(where I'm from) and I still have yet to see it practiced on either coast. I've read waiter blogs that imply it's a Southern Black thing. But, I've also noticed that Midwesterners(regardless of race) of a certain age(the s/o's 80+ grandmother, for example) expect lemon with their water and always request it. Me, I can take it or leave it; years back I was somewhat amused and confused by this regional abberration, now I just go with the flow. Lemon's fine in ice water, but I certainly don't *need* it(or demand it). And, of course, there's the idea that slicing up lemons for water is a loss for the restaurant. Any thoughts?

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  1. I've lived in the midwest for 30 years, and have eaten out at lots of different restaurants throughout the region. I'd have to say that ice water is not usually served with lemon -- some restaurants do it, but not most. I can take it or leave it.

    1. The very first time I saw lemon in a water glass was nearly 30 years ago at a place in Santa Barbara, CA, called "Epicurean" or something like that (long closed). For some reason, the water did not have ice, and my then-GF and I wondered if they were glasses for drinking (they were short and wide) or fingerbowls...so we sat there, watching and waiting to see if other customers drank or cleaned up....

      3 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        I love the anecdote...I would've done the same thing. And, you disprove my "never seen on either coast" assumption, too.

        1. re: ricepad

          Which reminds me of a story about the Queen. Seems at a state dinner a guest who mistook a finger bowl as soup, and started to drink from it. The Queen, being ever polite and in an effort not to embarass the guest, also drank from the bowl. Since everyone must do what the Queen does, so everyone at the dinner drank from the finger bowl.

          1. re: PeterL

            Funny you should mention that story, because we talked about it while debating "water glass or fingerbowl?"! We decided, tho, that since neither of us was royalty, we would have to wait and follow somebody ELSE'S lead.

        2. I don't think I can recall ever getting lemon in iced water, always in iced tea but never in water. Rachael Ray always orders lemon with her iced water on her $40 a Day show, always makes me roll my eyes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KTinNYC

            Shoot! For that reason, I'll never do it again

          2. I'm in Houston and I would say that about 60% of the restaurants do put a lemon slice in ice water, which my husband detests! I don't mind it, and I get double lemon, but it doesn't really add flavor unless you squeeze the lemon, so it does no harm. I primarily drink water, so it's a treat to get a bit of lemon, and I will ask for it if it isn't served.

            Once I was at the grocery store and this very large man was looking at flavored waters, and asked me what I thought about them. Come to find out he was trying to kick the cola habit, to lose weight. My opinion is that paying for flavored water is a waste of money, unless you have it to burn, so I told him to just get a lemon, or orange and squeeze that in his water, and skip the extra cost. He was much appreciative, and said that made sense to him.

            4 Replies
            1. re: danhole

              Wow, do we eat in different restaurants! I can't think of any place where I've gotten lemon in the ice water. But then I've been specializing in hole-in-the-wall places for a couple of years, I may have only eaten at one or two white-table cloth establishments all year.

              I think what' silly is buying bottled unflavored water since it usually comes out of a tap in some other city. I think Houston water is tasty but I order iced tea with almost everything unless the restaurant offers hot tea.

              1. re: brucesw

                Oh, goodness Bruce! Do I sound like a "white-table cloth establishment" person? Egads! I'm not at all. Only on very rare occasions! But I agree that hole in the wall places do not pass out lemons in water, but some of them have them over by the free refills, or the condiments, just in case. Don't usually use those though. They always look a bit old, or not very sanitary.

                I have medical issues, so water is my drink of choice/necessity. I may have tea once in awhile, but mostly it's water. Here lately, though, they have been cutting back on lemon, and if you want it you have to ask for it. And I agree, I like the taste of Houston water! But I still have a filter in my fridge for the water and ice, and you would be amazed at the gunk that comes out of it!

                1. re: danhole

                  Ha, ha. Sometimes I feel really dumb. I've seen the lemons at the condiments bars but never considered it for water! Don't use it for iced tea, either. Ordering iced tea in most Houston restos is like asking for colored water, anyway. I like it strong and I seldom get it.

                  I didn't need to read that about the filters. I wonder if it's too late to get a letter in to Santa?

                  1. re: brucesw

                    Sorry to burst your bubble! It wasn't until my DH started working at a filtration company that I found out what all was in the water, but even so, it is a lot better than most large cities. Look at all the posts on this thread where they say the lemon is added to cover the bad taste of the water!

            2. I'm in CA, SF Bay Area. I would say about 1/4 restaurants here serve ice water with lemon. I prefer without, but my wife loves it.