Thursday, October 29, 2009

A-Z of Gastronomy- The quest for knowledge

You sit down, the waiter places the napkin on your lap and you open the menu- only to find you have no idea what estouffade, stracciatella or spatlese are. This awkward situation will only be exacerbated if you are on a first date and simply cannot risk looking like an idiot... So what do you do? Risk it and just take a punt, hoping that what you order will be something you are ok with eating? Ask the waitstaff hoping that they won't be too snooty and will give you a reasonable plain English run down? The first choice is high risk but can result in reward. You get to try something that you have never eaten before but the risk is- you have never ordered it before because it simply doesn't appeal.

This was the recent scenario involving a Sydney fine dining establishment and a friend's father. He is very much a meat and three veg man and ordered the carpaccio of beef. He figured any type of beef would be safe until the moment the raw beef slices were placed in front of him. I admit, he did attempt to eat it but it simply wasn't his thing. The result was he ended up paying $45 + for a meal he didn't like and didn't eat.

There is also the other possibility that you are quite sure you know what you are ordering and it turns out you were actually thinking cannelloni not cannoli... Easily avoidable you say? Just ask the waiter? Well why do so many people refuse to ask? Is it because they feel silly asking, don't want to be embarrassed in front of their PIE's (partner in eating) or just don't want the condescending reply from the wait staff?

Any person who works in a restaurant will be more than happy to explain the menu to you. They will not think any less of you for asking, and if they do- they have not been trained very well so have no reason to sneer. I admit, there are occasions where I don't want to ask either, but am always relieved when I do- especially when I was way off track. I usually suffer comments flying at me from me pies- the inevitable 'I thought you knew everything about food' and questions are usually directed at me by other Pie's don't know what they are in for. Sometimes I know the answer, sometimes I don't. Point being-No one should have to suffer through some hideous concoction of sweetbreads when all they wanted was some sweet bread. Moral of the story- ASK PEOPLE. And if you are still too shy to ask- just google the bloody menu before you go!

In the spirit of not-knowing most and wanting to know more I am going to introduce an A-Z of Gastronomy segment on my blog. This will happen maybe once a week, maybe once a month- just whenever I come across a new gastronomic word and feel the need to share. The stories behind the terms/food may also intrigue you as they do me- in any case- I'm going to share them.

So tell me- Have you had any mortifyingly embarrassing experience that have resulted with you ordering something you would have rather not known existed? Do you have any terms that you find fascinating or want to know more about? Let me know!

2 fabulous comments:

beeso said...

At the Sichuan chinese place we went to, names like Ants climbing a tree sounded more like a religious parable than a meal. The pictures were not much more help. Luckily we were with a few old hands and the meal was delicious, start to finish.

I have a bastardized carpaccio recipe that is a favourite of The Wife. It has passed round her family and last xmas a relative of a relative told me how much they like the recipe. I was stoked, how good is that, i thought.

"Of course, we cook the steak all the way through......"

SIGH

SOL's view said...

I'm so not a good cook and can't afford to eat out but OMG I LOVE FOOD!

Especially of the chocolate variety.

I shall continue to read; hopefully I'll learn something!

Cheers =]

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