Friday, January 13, 2012

A Tall Order

My first post of the new year and... I'm going to whine and complain.
Here goes.
Why oh why can't waiters and waitresses listen to their customers and not take things personally.
Last night Les and I went to a popular Italian chain restaurant for dinner. I have a big sensitivity to garlic. I can't say I'm allergic to it because I don't turn purple and go into anaphylatic shock, but lets just say it doesn't make nice with my intestinal tract. And some times are worse than others. Now that I've lived with it for over 20 years I can tolerate much more than in the beginning, but I still have to be careful. I can hear the chatter now - why would you go to an Italian restaurant in the first place. Italy's national flag has a garlic clove on it. (Well it should!) I like pasta. Just not covered in garlic tomato sauce.
I ordered the create your own pasta plate. First order of business, ask which sauce has the least amount of garlic. Our waitress although not thrilled with the question politely tells me the basic tomato sauce would be my best bet. Okay. Cool. So I place my order. Capinelli with tomato sauce on the side. Add roasted mushrooms and red peppers. I fill out the little order sheet from the pad and say in my finest English, I'm very(emphasis on very) sensitive to garlic. Think I mentioned it twice in my ordering. Sauce on the side. Ms Waitress tells me no problem and scurries away.
One square of rosemary bread later she brings my dish. Capinelli smothered in tomato sauce with mushrooms and peppers. It looked great. But not what I ordered. Now the fun begins. With my first word being one of apology I remind her that I needed the sauce on the side because - say it with me now - I'm very sensitive to garlic. She then gets offended and tells me she didn't hear me say, "sauce on the side".  I've been through this with countless waiting staff at countless places. I know the drill. I calmly state that I did mention it and my dish is wisked off to the kitchen folk for I really hope is just a re-do without added ingredients if you catch my drift.
Les and I try to keep our interaction with our waitress light and breezy and although we could clearly see she was annoied with us, knew her tip depended on a civil ending to our dining experience. We smiled, she smiled.
I ate half of my bowl still tasting that tell tell flavor of garlic and boxed up the rest. And yes I know I may be paranoid - but just because I am paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.
Fast forward to today.
I'm preparing my leftovers. Capinelli, peppers and mushrooms in one container, sauce in another. I pull out the mushrooms and peppers and go for the pasta leaving the sauce in its separate container. Nuked and ready to eat, I notice a small white chunk of something. Must be the grated cheese. But
grated cheese smushes when you squeeze it. This didn't. It looked like garlic, it felt like garlic. Yup, a small chunk of ...garlic. From the sauce? Were the veggies roasted with garlic? Who's to know. But here's my beef. Is it so hard for a waitress or waiter to listen to their customers? When someone makes it very clear that they can't tolerate an ingredient, is it so hard to note on the order ticket this little bit of information so that the cooks see how to prepare a dish? Is it so hard to realize it's nothing personal. It's a serving staff's position to accommodate a customer within reason. Especially if said customer is polite and articulate and has a valid reason for their request.
I know  there are customers from hell out there who make life miserable for the underpaid serving community. But there are those of us who enjoy eating out but have to be careful. We don't want to make life hard and we really mean nothing personal.
Is this too tall an order to fill?

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