Why do I keep getting charged for bread?

Being charged for bread in restaurants makes me crazy. Shouldn't bread be free? What's the story?
By lilninja
Gourmet Traveller features editor and restaurant critic, Pat Nourse, writes:
"The best restaurants, as a rule, tend to offer bread and water, if not a little more, as soon as you take your table as a simple courtesy and an elementary gesture of hospitality. But it's worth noting that as pleasant a gesture as that may be, 'complimentary' bread is never really free. Restaurants have to pay to bake or buy their bread, and recoup that cost by building it in elsewhere. There are diners, too, who prefer a user-pays option, especially in these carb-conscious post-Atkins times. Being slow off the mark with water or - worse - charging for it, however, is hard to forgive under any circumstances. No one's yet tried to charge for butter as far as we know, but it surely can't be far off."

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