Barolo’s Telling Detail

October 7, 2010

In journalism, there’s something called the telling detail. It’s what professional journalists do when they observe the person they’re interviewing and writing about, or the place where a crime or fire has taken place, or a restaurant they are reviewing.

So if the person you are interviewing has a photo of President Obama in a frame on her desk, that might be a telling detail about the power and importance of the interviewee. Or if a 20-something sports an antique ring, that might be her telling detail. Or if a middle-aged man’s hair is dyed purple, that might be a clue as to their personality.

When we eat out, I like to look at the telling detail(s) throughout the restaurant. Here’s on I spotted at Barolo Ristorante in downtown Seattle. The candle drips are as lavish as the restaurant’s decor, replete with gauzy white veils, good-looking servers, and dim (flattering!) lighting.

I’ve been told that the servers cut the wax every day so it looks good. . .which, in itself, makes for quite an interesting telling detail.

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