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Where Pesto Has Failed to Infiltrate

No capers

So so much to be gleaned from this WSJ article on the quirks of chain restaurant diners (none terribly surprising, but still) plus it managed to use both palate and palette (correctly) a feat as enjoyable as when a character in a movie says the name of the movie.

Olive Garden eaters are turned off by the saltiness of capers and the er, greenness of pesto (I thought that condiment went mainstream around 1990, along with sun-dried tomatoes and hummus–the latter currently being tested at T.G.I. Friday’s), won’t eat pears and Gorgonzola or gnocchi, refuse to part with that frosted salad bowl from another era (that era when pesto became a part of the American diet), and love cheese and chicken more than life itself. Pretty much they’re the worst people on earth.

Applebee’s and T.G.I. Friday’s customers are wilder because they’ll eat okra, ahi tuna and hard boiled eggs cut into wedges. Romano’s Macaroni Grill diners are rich and less scared of Italian food. Why have I not been there yet?

Despite the lowest common denominator approaches employed, the brands are not unaware that more adventurous diners are turned off by the chain staples.

"'We always have to be careful to not always offer cheesy, chickeny things and pastay things,' because such dishes might push away customers with more advanced palates, says John Caron, president of Olive Garden."

As a result, Olive Gardens offers a non-fried, pasta-less, cheese-free bouillabaisse-type seafood dish that costs more than average ($16.25, which I’m sure is not the NYC price–ok, it's $23. 95 in Times Square, which is why chains are best experienced in their natural habitats) and that no one orders. The brodetto is for advanced palates only.

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