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PALM LATITUDES

IN EXCESS : Tempest in a Teapot

January 16, 1994|Chuck Taggart

It began, for me, like this: As I nearly always do when dining out, I ordered an iced tea. The waiter brought it to me and I took a hearty gulp. It nearly came back up.

"Waiter," I said, beckoning. "Excuse me, but there's something wrong with this tea. It tastes like something got into it. May I have another one?"

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, sir. Certainly."

But the next one was no better. The taste was, I came to find out, intentional. It was, in fact, that malevolent brew that has slowly been invading hundreds of local restaurants, from the Cheesecake Factory to Four Seasons--the dreaded passion-fruit-flavored Paradise Tropical Tea.

Now, if folks want to drink this stuff and enjoy it, I'm happy for them. Believe me, this is not a flame against Paradise Tropical Tea drinkers. This is a flame against the restaurants that do not clearly identify the beverages they serve. If restaurants list "iced tea" in the menu, they should offer iced tea, not iced Paradise Tropical Tea.

As an expatriate New Orleanian who grew up drinking gallons per week of the real thing, I just can't stand this stuff. And I can't believe I am alone in this. All I ask is that restaurants offer a choice. I may have to keep a Thermos of Luzianne or Barry's in my trunk in case of emergencies . . . sigh.

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