The Making of a Water Snob

Our man's journey from chugging at the tap to appreciating rare bottled brands

Matthew Mahon for TIME

Water sommelier Michael Mascha, photographed in Harlingen, Texas.

I always ask for tap water, no matter how nice the restaurant is. It's my way of telling the waiter that, despite my choice of the $80 tasting menu, I'm not some self-important yuppie jerk. Other than the Saint Emilion and the truffles, I'm keeping it real. Now nice restaurants are coming around to my way of thinking. Alice Waters, citing environmental reasons, banned bottled water at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. Several other high-end Bay Area spots have also gone tap-only, and soon Del Posto, Mario Batali's expensive Manhattan joint, will join them. I'm betting that fine-dining establishments will eventually...