Picks and Pans Review: Waiting

updated 09/11/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/11/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The True Confessions of a Waitress
by Debra Ginsberg

Forget the guy who learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten. Debra Ginsberg got her education in restaurants, and she doles it out just right in this entertaining account. In 20 years of taking orders for everything from popovers to pifia coladas, she gathered a trove of stories she justly terms "passionate, absurd and intimately human."

Between shifts Ginsberg provides us with endearing glimpses of her large and colorful family—as a waiter, her dad supported his wife and five kids on tips alone. There are also sporadic helpings of her checkered love life. But Ginsberg recalls her romantic failures with nary a hint of bitterness, including the one with the ex-waiter who fathered her son. Best of all is the inside look at staff romances and the truth about whether a server or cook pushed too far by a customer will spit—or worse—in your soup. (Don't ask.) (HarperCollins, $22)

Bottom Line: The real dish on restaurant life

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