What do you think about serving non-filtered (a.k.a. tap) water to dinner guests? A friend of mine says it's gauche."
"Gauche" is a little strong, although "lazy" wouldn't be entirely unfair. Tap water almost always tastes a little like chlorine, particularly at room temperature. And though that's usually as bad as it gets, a few parts of the country, like Ontario's otherwise bucolic Prince Edward County, have water that can taste like dirty socks or worse.
Buy a filtering pitcher - basic ones cost $20 or less most places. That'll remove most off tastes, and it's far cheaper (and easier on the planet) than stocking the bottled stuff. For extra points, consider getting a carbonation unit. They start at about $100, (plus C02 refills) and they'll give you an endless supply of fizzy stuff at home.
Either way, don't be shy about adding subtle aromatics like cucumber slices or old-fashioned lime or lemon wedges to your pitcher. Your so-called friend will never call you gauche again.
Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .