Having waited an absurdly long time for a waiter to take his order in a French restaurant, the novelist Irwin Shaw was approached at last by the maitre d' -- who politely informed Shaw that snails were the specialty of the house.

"I know," Shaw replied with a nod, "and you've got them dressed as waiters."

[In 2003, Bournemouth University Professor John Edwards served an identically-prepared dish (chicken -- la king) to customers in ten different restaurants, and found that the better the ambiance, the better diners said it tasted. The dish was given low marks in a residential nursing home and a boarding school, and got top marks at a four-star restaurant. (The Independent on Sunday)]

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