Monday, September 26, 2011

5 things to do to drive an Italian waiter crazy

It has finally happened.   A foursome of American tourists discovered our Locanda today while we were sitting by ourselves having lunch.  It is a lovely spot with a terrace and "typical Umbrian food."

Here are some photos to prove the point
Me sitting on the terrace before others arrive 
Caramella a new type of pasta for me


Vegetable timbale

Okay.  So a young Italian couple come in and sit at the other end of the terrace.  Then 2 couples of American tourists walk in.  They are about my age and are wearing biking clothes.  Ok, you have the picture.

Rule number 1 to make the waitress crazy.
1.  Talk to your waitress in English in a loud voice even though she has addressed you in Italian.  Here's the thing.  If someone speaks Italian to you it is because they don't know English!  They know you are not Italian.  Trust me, they know.  If the waitress is young and doesn't know English she will be embarrassed because she thinks she ought to know English.  If the waitress is older, she may be defensive and rude because she thinks you should know Italian. Speaking to them loudly in pidgin English won't help either.  The waitress will just look shell shocked and not know what to do.

What you should do is ask, "Parla Inglese?"  If the waitress does not, she is more likely to find you someone who can.

2.  Order items out of order.  Italians may look like there is no order or system in their lives, but it isn't true.  It is just different from Americans.  Italians are very ordered around food.  They are very serious about food.  To them, eating is not just putting calories in your system that will later be burned off.  So, there is an order in giving your order.  You will first be asked about water.  Do you want water with gas or natural.  This question needs to be answered first and then the waitress disappears while you look at the menu.  If someone shouts out beer, and someone else shouts out spaghetti, the waitress will get the same shell shocked look and god knows what you will get.  Probably the owner.  So allow the waitress to take your order in her manner.  People should go one at a time and stay on the same course.

3.  The next things that will drive her crazy.  At a table of 4 have one person order an antipasta, one person order a primi, the other person order a secondi and the last person orders a salad, which oh by the way is not on the menu.  So the American asks, "Do you have a mixed salad?" to the owner.  (The waitress has now high tailed it to the kitchen.) The owner says, "Yes, of course."  The American says, "Where is it on the menu?"  The owner says, "It isn't on the menu."  The American says,"What's in it?"  The owner says, "We make it for you what do you want in it?" The American says how many Euros?  The owner says 3.  The American says, ok my husband and I will split it."  Now everything is out of order.  The salad, which usually comes last, is expected first.  The antipasti which should arrive first is now matched up with the primi and the secondi.  There is confusion everywhere, and everyone seems unhappy.

4.  Walk into a ristorante that offers "Typical Umbrian food" and expect a full menu of things you would eat in the states.  Oh by the way, Umbrians do not think their food is Italian.  It is Umbrian. It is different from the food in Tuscany, way different from the food in Rome and Naples.  It is generally grilled meat and meat sauce with pasta.  Very little tomatoes and very little butter.  Cheese is big.  It is usually made in house.  It is good, but unless you are at a large city, like Perugia, you are going to see pretty much the same thing on the menus because Umbrian food is pretty much the same thing, if you get my drift.

5.  The final thing to do to make your waitress crazy is to order a pizza at lunch.  Italians eat their pizza for dinner and it isn't available at lunch.  Why is this? The wood pizza ovens are too hot to heat up during the day. There are some places that sell pizza by the slice at lunch, like in the grocery mall.  Need I say more?  One last thing once if you order pizza for dinner, ask for your left over pizza to go home with you.  The Italians are horrified by this.  Why?  Because they think warmed over pizza is disgusting and why would you do that to a food you can go and get fresh.

How do I know all of these things?  I have done everyone of them.

1 comment:

  1. We've been practicing , "Parla Inglese?", and "American Express?". I think we've got it down. If that doesn't work we'll start talking about European debt. If you see us hitchhiking from Rome, please pick us up in the Pathfinder. We'll be grateful. Steve and Lori