From what I understand, it's only here in the UK that asking for tap water is seen as embarrassing and cheap. Certainly, I've found in America that tap water is brought to your table as a matter of routine and courtesy as soon as you sit down.
I always ask for a glass of tap water in a restaurant. I don't see it as my main drink, more of a thirst quencher so I can enjoy my wine and not gulp it down. But I've been given a few subtle 'oh how cheap' looks from waiters in my time.
But what's wrong with tap water? Surely the restaurant's taps are clean and supplying water from a similar source to the one in my home? I don't drink bottled water there and don't feel I need to spend four pounds on a bottle in a restaurant.
Claridges famously launched a global water menu last year, with over 30 varieties of bottled water listed and prices reaching heights that I find quite nauseating. Why? For the water connoisseur, of course.
Britain remains a place of snobbery where one has to outdo one's neighbour in certain circles and industries. Gone are the days when the latest mobile phone or palm pilot was enough to symbolise your power, now it's all down to the water you drink with your meal. Or maybe that's just here in the capital city?
In London a campaign has been launched to encourage people to drink tap water - no doubt to the disgust of the connoisseurs. London On Tap is a new initiative between Thames Water and the Mayor of London to make people aware that bottled water is not just bad for your wallet, it's bad for the environment - if restaurants didn't stock bottled water, this would cut down on production, packaging, transport, waste - and that's just the start.
The campaign also aims to 'empower customers in bars and restaurants to ask for tap water rather than feeling obliged to ask for more expensive bottled brands.'
A slogan after my own heart.
Forgive me if you are a water connoisseur. I don't want to come across as ignorant and am aware that flavours differ and filtration processes vary but I'll never forget the first time someone pointed out to me that Evian was naïve backwards! Coincidence? I'll leave it up to you to decide.