something wrong with the menu,

I ordered a beer at a place in Krakow , a particular beer I’d never run into before . I’m one to taste unusual beers , so I was looking forward to tasting this one .

When the beer came , it wasn’t the one I’d ordered . The name on the bottle was another beer . It was good , but I thought that I’d point this discrepancy out to the waitress . She spoke good English and was friendly . I tried my best to not sound like I was complaining , because I wasn’t .

” Yes ,” she said , when I pointed out the beer label to her . ” There’s a problem with the menu ” .

Now , I should say right here , at this point in my story , that I’m not picking on Poland . But , I can’t imagine this kind of thing happening here in the good old US of A . Most likely in a United States restaurant  the waitress would no doubt say that they had run out of the beer I’d ordered , but that they had another beer , even better , for the same price , and would I like to order that one ? Something like that .fitzgerald-conguates-cocktail

But , on the other hand , those problems with the menu are , evidently ,  international  .

Ada was reading John Cleese’s book  ” So , Anyway…. ”   Cleese tells the story of visiting New Zealand , going to a restaurant , and one of the members in his group ordered  Colonial Goose . When  the entrees arrived , the goose order looked like  lamb . The guy who’d ordered it pointed out to the waitress that he had been given lamb .

” Yes  ” she said .

” But I ordered Colonial Goose , ” he said .

” Colonial Goose is lamb , ” she said .

When Ada and I were in China we were given cards in restaurants that , apparently , listed everything possible that could be ordered in the place . And a pencil . We were given a pencil to make a check mark in front of whatever we wanted to order . I don’t read Chinese and I’m pretty sure Ada doesn’t either , so these menus were a challenge for us , being completely written in Chinese script . I didn’t know so much as whether to read up from the bottom , down from the top , left to right or visa versa .  I recall , as I think back , that Ada took the pencil and began check- marking  our choices . I don’t remember exactly because 1) it was a long time ago , and 2) I had my head down on the table and was whimpering in hungry helpless frustration . Food came , though , somehow . Could be Ada had secretly picked up some Chinese lingo here or there , maybe as we were walking the back roads of Shanghai . Ada’s good with languages .

And then there was the time in Mexico , of course , with my friend Jim and his nephew and , I think , my brother Tom . We were in some little restaurant in a tiny village south of Mexico , D F . , ordering our standard carne asada . We ordered carne asada in order to avoid any more exotic foods with questionable ingredients for our spoiled American stomachs . .

This time the restaurant meat might as well have been shoe leather . We couldn’t chew it up.  No flavor . Win a few —lose a few ! And then the bill came and it was three times what it should have been . Stick it to the tourists , I suppose . Jim , however , lived in Mexico , in Ciudad Obregon , and wasn’t about to put up with this treatment . Jim pointed out ( in Spanish ) to the waitress that we had been overcharged .

” It’s not what’s on the menu ,” he said .

” It’s an old menu “.

” I want to see the owner . ”
” I am the owner ,” she said .

” Then I want to see the police ,” Jim said  , and at this point he stood up and began shouting ” Policia !  Policia ! ”
The woman backed down immediately  . Those little Mexican towns had a policeman on every corner . She waved her hands , indicating that Jim should sit down . ” You pay whatever you want ,” she said .

” We’ll pay what’s on the menu ,” Jim said . For the tasteless shoe leather so-called dinner  . So,  we did .

My father-in-law Tom was a chemist . He used to moonlight for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts inspecting restaurant kitchens  for stray germs , infections , rodent droppings , scum , and anything else that shouldn’t be in there.  I guess that , over the years , he found more than his share of disgusting health violations . The few times that he and I would  wind up looking at a restaurant menu somewhere Tom’s eyes would glaze over . ” If you only knew what goes on in restaurant kitchens …. ” he would say , with  distress showing in his eyes . clenched fists

I think restaurants should go about business like the Gold Rush establishments did it . Everyone paid a set price and whatever food was available was put all at once out on a communal table . It was ‘dig in’ time when the bell rang , and the knives would come out . No forks or fancy place settings . Gold rushers would food-rush  for whatever food they could get before someone else got it . No menus .


Filed under humor

11 responses to “something wrong with the menu,

  1. Nothing like a good cock tale. Once stopped with a bud at a bar in Bellingham that boasted 1,000 beers. Yep, here’s the menu, 1,000 beers on the wall. Take one down. “Sorry, we’re out of that one,” waiter advised. And this went on for like 6 beers, 7 beers, 8 beers – “sorry, we don’t have that one in stock, either,” etc. “How about a Bud,” Bud finally asked. “Do you carry Budweiser?”

  2. I love the concept of the menu being broken, but story in the Mexican restaurant is the best.

  3. When I was younger, I went to the Shartlesville Hotel in PA. The place was built back in 1800 as a stagecoach station. They put everything out in bowls, and kept them full on this long table. We sat down with people we didn’t know and ate family style – My parents and I met a lot of great people and had a dinner I still remember almost 55 years later.
    Now – worst restaurants? I refuse to get into it… Hahaha…there have been a few beauts!!

  4. I meant to ask, how you deal with the various languages as you travel.

    • Simple body language with a couple of local words thrown in usually goes a long way . Most people in the world want to be helpful , I think . Of course , not all the time .

  5. Good story. In the tiny bit of traveling I’ve done, I revel in these discrepancies. As Americans, the parts of our life that run well, we take for granted–such as menus being accurate. So we whine about other things. I’d rather whine about prices on the menu than some of the other topics I read about!

  6. Pingback: But It’s Hash Day | No Facilities

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