Sarcasm is a dish not found on the menu.

On Saturday night my wife and I attended the Purple Reign tribute act at The Westgate in Las Vegas.  It was awesome and definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re a Prince fan like me.

Anyway, beforehand we had booked a reservation at an Italian restaurant to make it a proper date night.

Upon arrival we were shown to our seats and handed the largest menus I think I’ve ever seen. These things were like windsurfing sails.  Looking around the restaurant I could see people struggling to keep their chairs in place as they fought against the air conditioning.

At one point I saw a crying child fly overhead.

After a few minutes the waitress came over to our table.

“Hi, my name is (I genuinely can’t remember); are you ready to order, or do you have any questions?”

I looked up at her with a wry grin and replied, “Yes actually, I do have a question; is it possible to get a larger menu?  This one isn’t quite big enough.”

She smiled back and said, “Yes, I know.  The print is just so small and difficult to read.  We really need to make the whole thing bigger, sorry about that.”

At last, someone that gets it!  She knew I was joking and ran with it, commenting on the size of the text on these huge, wobbling cardboard monstrosities.  At last I had found someone that picked up on the subtleties of my English humour and gave as good as she got.

I was so happy.

After she had left, my wife (seeing my smile of satisfaction) leaned in, and said “You realise she thought you were serious, right?”

Fuck.

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United Steaks of Hamerica

I’ve been in the U S of A almost 5 days, and already I have SO many notes compiled on things that I’d love to blog about.

That said, I don’t want to blow my load on one post, so I’ve decided to drip feed them in an attempt to look like I’ve thought long and hard about each and every post.

I probably haven’t, just so you know.

Today’s entry is food related.

Last night my wife and I went to a restaurant called Brio in Tivoli Village. Great restaurant with the usual oversize portions and suspiciously joyful staff.

When the waitress (I don’t like the word ‘server’ [1]) took my order, she said “super salad?”

“What?”
“Super salad?”
“Is it?”
“Is it what?”
“Super?”
“Is what ‘super’?”

“The salad?”

There was a pause….

My wife tapped me on the arm and said “Soup or salad”

Yeah, that made more sense.

It seems that choice with your meal is a big thing in the United States.  If you want eggs, you can have them sunny side up [2], over easy, scrambled, boiled, poached or the waiter can bring the chicken out and you can suck the egg directly from its arse.

If you want chips (fries) you can have them regular, curly or seasoned.  Alternatively you can have them boiled, baked or mashed; not to mention the option of hash browns, wedges or having them peeled and inserted rectally to save yourself the calories.

And if you’re having breakfast you can have pancakes, waffles, French toast, English muffins and all sorts of artery clogging carbohydrates….with or without cinnamon frosting or powdered sugar.

Oh, and by the way America,  French Toast isn’t French; nor are English muffins English.  Both are American.

Crepes are French, but oddly you don’t call those French pancakes.

Also, smothering anything with Marinara sauce does not make it Italian.

But I digress.

Going back to the subject of choice when dining, you also get free refills on a lot of things.  Having visited America a lot in the past I am fully aware that you get free refills on coffee and soda (yes, I use the word ‘soda’ now)…but imagine my disappointment when I once declined another bowl of delicious soup at Olive garden only to find out afterwards that it was, in fact, a free refill.

On soup!

This morning I saw an advert on TV (amongst the many, many, many, MANY adverts) for a restaurant called Applebee’s in which they offer free refills on fries.

FRIES!

But, to be fair, you only got these free refills on fries when you order one of their massive, supersized, over the top burgers that includes meat from every species known to man, topped with 8 cheeses and sugar, or something.

It’s like the Heart Attack Grill found on Fremont Street who give free meals to anyone weighing over 350 pounds.  This is a place where they have a burger called the Quadruple Bypass which totals 10,000 calories.

My wife told me that a guy once had a heart attack in the Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street and, considering the ‘servers’ are dressed like doctors and nurses, all the other diners though it was some kind of show.

Well, it’s Vegas after all.

But going back to Olive Garden for a second, they offer a “Buy one, Take one” deal on entrees [3].  You order your main meal and they give you another one free.

Seems normal, right?

Well, this second dish isn’t for your dining partner; it’s for you to take home to presumably eat naked and alone in the dark, sobbing with shame.

Lunacy.

But it’s not all bad, they have twist off bottle caps on their beers.  That’s something they’re getting right.

Oh, and they have Spinach and Artichoke dip.

That’s a thing here.

It needs to be a thing everywhere.

Now.

fat uncle sam

[1] Although people in I.T. swear by them 😉
[2] Also known as ‘half cooked, slightly raw and snotty’

[3] Main course

Waiter minute!

I’m a fast eater.

eat-fast

I always have been.

I’m not sure where it stemmed from, but I’ve never remembered a time when I ate slowly. My brother is the same.  Maybe it was due to having Italian relatives (on my Father’s side) who loved to feed us whenever we visited, or maybe it was from our time spent in prison.

I’m joking of course. There’s no way my relatives are responsible.

I suppose I began noticing my accelerated eating pace when I became an adult and started dining with other adults. Whenever I go out to a restaurant with anyone I’m usually the first to empty my plate.

This isn’t an issue for me as I’m happy to sit there having a conversation as they painstakingly take an age to eat their meal that probably went cold an hour ago.

Really, it’s fine. I can always lick my plate if I get bored.

Or can I?

You see, my big issue with finishing first is the fact that the waiter/waitress inevitably comes to the table and does the unspeakable; they take away my plate.

Why?

Are they so bereft of crockery in their restaurant that they need to relieve me of mine as soon as possible?

They’re like sharks, circling the table and watching.

fight club waiter

What makes it worse is when they quietly ask “are you finished?” whilst reaching for my plate before I can answer “yes”.  And let’s be honest, the only answer I can possibly give is ‘yes’ because my plate is empty.  I can’t say no because, well, my plate is empty.

“Actually, I’m not finished yet.  There’s still a pattern on this plate” is not a well received answer.

And once I’ve been parted from my plate I’m left sitting there watching the others eat. I realise I was doing this beforehand, but somehow I now feel less involved.  I’ve now become an outside observer like a scientist with a room full of chimps.

I really hate this behaviour in restaurants (from the waiter/waitress, not my chimpy friends). I’m sure the waiting staff think they’re doing the right thing, but I find it intrusive, unwelcoming and a bit rude; and they don’t even have the decency to leave a copy of Watchtower magazine to keep me occupied.

To me it’s the same as saying:

“Wow, someone was hungry weren’t they Mr Piggy McOink? Look everyone! This guy has finished before anyone else at his table!  How Fatty-Boombatty is this jelly-belly?”

This is all made worse when it’s only two of us having a meal. Now they’re not only mocking me non-verbally with their smile, they’re piling the pressure on my fellow diner (usually my wife):

“One down, one to go. Come on slowcoach, you’re wasting everyone’s time.  Pay up and get lost; I need this table for another couple.”

A while back I went for a meal with a friend who is the slowest eater in the world. And when I say slow, I mean s-l-o-w.  Usually, by the time she approaches the end of her meal, the restaurant has become a bank and cobwebs have formed on her plate.

As frustrating as it could’ve been, I didn’t mind. We were so busy catching up on old times that it didn’t matter she took an additional 20 minutes to finish her food.

Seriously, 20 minutes.  Time it.  That’s a long time on a single plate of food.

eating-tortoise

The worst part was when the waiter unashamedly cleared my plate and cutlery after I was finished (5 minutes, tops).  My friend, who was now feeling the pressure, apologised to me.

It can’t be a good thing when the person you’re eating with feels the need to say sorry for being ‘too slow’.

I didn’t care. I was there for the company and the conversation…and dessert, but there was no way I was seeing that for at least 2 hours.

My point is, don’t take plates away until everyone has finished.

In America they get it right. And here’s why

  • They don’t usually take away your plate until everyone has finished.
  • If they DO take your plate away, they replace it with something else (free refills on soup in Olive Garden anyone?).
  • Usually the meal is so massive it’s almost impossible to finish it anyway.
  • Sometimes the meal comes with more than one plate of food (breakfast at Denny’s for example has one plate for your massive breakfast platter and one plate for your massive stack of buttermilk pancakes).

Sometimes a waiter/waitress will also attempt to take your plate after a period of inactivity, despite how much food is still on your plate. It’s like some kind of evil computer screensaver with a plan for world domination through malnutrition.

If you stop eating for a period of time (I estimate this to be about 2 minutes), it is assumed you’ve finished and they will attempt to wrestle your food away from you.

I will stab you.  Be warned.

This behaviour wouldn’t translate anywhere else would it?

For example, whilst writing this post I’ve stopped a few times to re-read paragraphs, check my splellnig and make coffee.  This means I’ve left the keyboard for small periods of time.  By their reckoning I’m finished with this post and they’ll simply attempt to take it away from me, even if I’m in the middle of a

Some gross ‘under the table’ action.

In a restaurant there’s nothing worse than the realisation you’re touching someone’s discarded chewing gum under the table.

Then again, is it gum?  It could be part of the table.

You push your finger into it and it’s not part of the table.

Too soft.

Too warm.

Yuck.

grossed out animated gif

Are you going to eat that?

Here’s something that really pisses me off.

You’re in a restaurant with friends and you all order your meals. But when the food arrives and your much anticipated delicacy is placed in front of you, one of your friends exclaims loudly “Euw! That looks disgusting! What is that? Are you really going to eat that?”

Did it ever occur to these culinary challenged arseholes that the reason these meals are on the menu in the first place is because there are those of us out there with a palette craving more sophistication than a Big Mac and fries?

Of course I’m going to fucking eat it. Why else do you think I ordered it you prick?

Also, thanks for pointing out that it looks disgusting. No, really….I mean it, thanks. Now I really, REALLY can’t wait to eat it; knowing full well that others at the table may now perceive it as disgusting. Did I say the same about your wife when I met her? No.

At least I get to poop mine out in a day or two.

It seems to get worse with anything salad related. Usually I get told by people that they “don’t eat that green shit”. That might explain why, when we were seated at the table, you decided against sliding onto the bench behind the table by the wall and opted for the chair instead. I know you said it was for better back support and leg room, but you’re fooling no-one.

I have one friend who, whenever the word Parmesan is mentioned, scrunches up his face and squeals “Oh god, come on! What’s wrong with you?”. This is to highlight that I’m somehow an idiot for loving an entire nation’s most revered grated cheese. He then continues to loudly exclaim that it smells like baby sick, over and over again.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never actually smelled baby sick. However, I do concur that it does have an aroma not unlike full grown adult sick. Mind you, Stilton smells like feet and I still absolutely adore it (Stilton, not feet). One could argue that a curry smells* the same going out as it did going in, but does that make it any less appealing?

Does it fuck. Pass me a fork.

He makes matters even more infuriating by announcing that he hasn’t actually tried Parmesan. The smell is enough, apparently. He also doesn’t like Stilton…or any strong cheeses for that matter. He also hasn’t tried any of them either.

When I was 5 years old I probably said that girls smell funny and are disgusting too. How wrong I was.

He then continues to ‘correct’ us all by saying that chicken has no place on a pizza and neither does barbecue sauce. Domino’s and thousands of their customers worldwide may disagree with you, but what do they know? Apparently pizzas should only have pepperoni on them. I suppose he’s just being a traditionalist, although I haven’t the heart to tell him that pepperoni pizza is actually American.

But it’s not just him. Loads of people have sat there and done the whole “Euw! What is that? Are you going to eat that?” shit at various times in my life. Yes, I like a variety of foods:

Liver, steak and kidney, Marmite, artichokes, Parmesan, Stilton, lettuce, parsnips, brussel sprouts (yes, I fucking LOVE brussel sprouts….what’s wrong with the rest of you??), garlic, plain yoghurt, skimmed milk, ice-cream in a bap (the Italians do it all the time, and yet we’re accepting of it in a cone shaped wafer somehow…and arctic roll gets away with it in sponge!), calamari, baked beans, etc…..the list goes on and on.

And these were just the ones I could think of recently.

I do, however, draw the line at things like tarantulas, placentas, sheep’s eyeballs etc…because I don’t want to do something that would make the room smell of parmesan. Otherwise I’m a lover of flavours, textures and variety.

I also once got openly berated for saying that I’d eaten cornflakes for my lunch.

“Cornflakes for lunch? They’re for breakfast; you can’t have them for lunch!”

Oh the scandal!

I did point out that the cereal box didn’t specify that it HAD to be the morning, but it made no difference. What if I worked nights and my morning was actually at 5pm? Would the world implode? Apparently, it’s just the way it is…cereal is for the mornings.

I recall this conversation vividly. We were walking in town on a lunch break and when we’d arrived back at the office my friend approached some colleagues standing outside having a cigarette and said, “Dan had cornflakes for lunch, what the fuck’s up with that?”, to which one of the guys replied, “Yeah? So? I do it all the time”.

Awesome.

In your face traditionalist.

Two days later my berating friend admitted to trying cereal in the evening when he’d got home from work and had loved it.

I’m changing the world, one narrow-minded wanker at a time.

*and feels

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