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Re: Food

PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 5:10 pm
by AndyM
Poffertjes are delicious. And the affinity between the Dutch and the apple pie is a great joy.

Re: Food

PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 8:18 pm
by Ronald
Does anybody have any funny, bizarre, amazing etc stories about food/restaurants while on holiday or at home? I would love to read those.

Re: Food

PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 9:25 pm
by NormanD
In a café in Barcelona. Our Spanish was rudimentary (and a lot of people would speak Catalan anyway). We didn't know what the dish of the day was, it wasn't in the dictionary. We asked the waiter. He explained by making pig grunts and oinks, pinching his face as he did so.

Pig's cheeks? Who's ever heard of pig's cheeks? So much for miming.

So we ordered it and got two portions of ....pig's cheeks.

It was pretty horrible. We kept thinking of Upton Sinclair's description of the Chicago meat industry using every part of the pig except for its squeal. And Caroline Aherne's "eyeballs, earholes, and arseholes"

Re: Food

PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 9:27 pm
by Rob Hall
Not my own experience, but the only one that springs to mind is the tale of a student couple I knew many years ago, who went out on a shopping spree, followed by a meal. They thought it would be great fun to do a runner without paying for their meal. They were away and down the street before she realised that they'd left the shopping behind. She had to go back, in tears, with some story about how her boyfriend had taken off and left her, and she went out looking for him but couldn't find him, etc. They made her pay for the meal.

Re: Food

PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 11:35 pm
by Hugh Weldon
School trip, Rome, 1972, being served by waiter in the hotel restaurant. Clever clogs here tells people the Italian for 'That's enough' is 'Basta'

Cue for surprised waiter to grin at being addressed in his own language by spotty Liverpudlian adolescents. Only they're all shouting 'Bastard, bastard.....'

Re: Food

PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 6:18 am
by AndyM
NormanD wrote:In a café in Barcelona. Our Spanish was rudimentary (and a lot of people would speak Catalan anyway). We didn't know what the dish of the day was, it wasn't in the dictionary. We asked the waiter. He explained by making pig grunts and oinks, pinching his face as he did so.

Pig's cheeks? Who's ever heard of pig's cheeks? So much for miming.

So we ordered it and got two portions of ....pig's cheeks.

It was pretty horrible. We kept thinking of Upton Sinclair's description of the Chicago meat industry using every part of the pig except for its squeal. And Caroline Aherne's "eyeballs, earholes, and arseholes"


Norm - get with the programme, pig cheeks are delicious, although calf cheeks are even better. Most tasty meat is muscle, after all, and few muscles work harder than cheeks. Fish cheeks v.good too, especially hake.

If anyone plans to visit Granada, I can recommend the local favourite 'tortilla de sacromonte', a tortilla with two kinds of meat, one very soft and one more chewy. Bull's brain and balls. Delicioso!

Re: Food

PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 7:48 am
by Ronald
Pigs cheeks would not be something I would order but of course it all depends how they are prepared.

I used to work for a publishing company which published books and newspapers, I worked at the department were all the photographs had to be made suitable for printing, I was a reproduction photographer (I do not know if that is the right word). Because of that I had to work in shifts and also because of that we were given longer holidays, each year eight weeks. So what I used to do every couple of years is take a long holiday (about six weeks) to a far off country and after a while you realise that almost nothing is like at home. Here are some of my experieces with food.

Once in the capital of Guatemala I was eating a hamburger when for some reason I took off the upper part (I had already eaten half of it). To my disgust I saw a big fat worm on top of a piece of lettuce. So I returned the hamburger to my plate and wondered if I had already eaten any.

At a market in Bolivia I did buy a glas of lemonade from a woman who had several glasses of it placed on a chair, all the glassse were covered with a piece of cardboard. After I had drunk the lemonade I regretted it almost immediately. When I returned the glass to her she rinsed it in a bucket that was under the chair, and then a dog came over and drank from the water (it probably wasn’t the first one).

In Madagascar I had a meal in a small family restaurant, after I was seated a little girl behind the counter started to play Malagasy pop singles on a tiny recordplayer for me. The teenage and always smiling son of the family handed me the menu (only 10 items or so) and a little later took my order (chips+cotelettes). After a minute or five I was given soup which I hadn’t ordered, I didn’t say anything because I presumed it was complimentary. When I had finished the soup my meal came, not what I had ordered but rice with fried fish. I hadn’t the heart to say anything because the family was friendly and all the time smiling at me. Two days later I met a French guy and with him I did go to the restaurant again. When we came in all the tables were taken by a football team, all still in their outfit, so we were directed to a room at the back and were given a small table, customers who came in later had to sit on a sofa or on a bed. From the menu the French guy ordered chips+brochettes and I, again, chips+cotelettes. When two plates of soup arrived I told the surprised French guy that it probably was the custom here. After we had finished the soup our meals came and again it was not what had been ordered, we were both given chips+chicken. Before the French guy could protest I started to laugh loudly because it had dawned on me, you were given the menu, orders were taken and then you were given the only thing they had, the menu of the day.

In 1997 my wife and I visited her family in Papua and the Moluccas, later we heard that the families in both places had been very nervous because they didn’t know what to give us to eat. The first morning in Merauke Papua we were given white bread and fried Smac for breakfast, of course we didn’t say anything but after four days we couldn’t stand it anymore and said so. The Papuan woman who did the cooking had to laugh and then showed us about ten more cans in the cupboard.

On another occasion on the Moluccan island Kai Kecil we visited an uncle of my wife’s father. These people had gone out of their way to please us (so they thought), when lunch time came I almost fainted when I saw what had been prepared for us, while the family were eating Indonesian food we were given a big plate full of white bread sandwiches with a lot of butter and sugar, uuuurgh!!, again we hadn’t the heart to say anything and we both ate five sandwiches each.

The problem when ordering something in a restaurant you visit for the first time is that you never know exactly what you will get or how big portions are. Somewhere in Guatemala I ordered just 3 sandwiches which turned out to be 3 complete meals. I only ate half of them.

Another eating blunder that I remembered was when my then wife and I visited a friend in Brentford. She had asked us to come around 19.00, so before we visited her we had dinner in an Indian restaurant and after that went to her place. After about five minutes she asked us if we would like to have tea, of course we said and she went to the kitchen. After about twenty minutes my wife and I started exchanging glances, not knowing what was keeping her so long, I mean making tea normally takes about five to six minutes. After about half an hour she came from the kitchen with a tray full of food and went back to the kitchen to get another one, it was only then that we understood the full meaning of "Tea". We hadn't the heart to say to her that we already had dinner so we started to eat as much as we could as not to disappoint her, of course later after all that food we really felt horrible.

A couple of years ago we visited Paris for five days, we decided to eat food we couldn't get in Rotterdam so we did eat in Tahitian, Cameroonian and Malagasy restaurants.

The Malagasy restaurant was in a small street, when we approached it we were not sure it was a restaurant because it didn't look like one. When we looked through the window we saw a couple of tables so we decided to enter, I had to stoop though because the door handle was at midget height. It was rather bare, there was a poster on the wall and in a cupboard were some Malagasy artifacts, that was all. When we sat down a man came from the back and he welcomed us, it was the owner, a very cheerful guy who was whistling all the time and who also did the cooking and the serving.

We took a menu, which consisted of a drink, starters (meatballs + pieces of crab) main dish and coffee. When we had finished eating I asked him if we could get some desert. He said "desert?, no no no, you can't get desert" I said "why not?", he then pointed to my plate and said "you still have some rice and sauce left, you must first finish that". He then went whistling back to the kitchen, only to return five minutes later with delicious flavoured vanilla coffee.


Re: Food

PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 8:13 am
by Chris P
deleted post...

Re: Food

PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 8:29 am
by Adam Blake
When I stopped eating meat on January 1st 1980 I thought I was in the vanguard of a revolution. Maybe I was wrong...

Re: Food

PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 9:27 am
by NormanD
AndyM wrote:Norm - get with the programme, pig cheeks are delicious, although calf cheeks are even better.
Maybe now they are - I've even seen them in Waitrose. But back then - nah. I also had a lifetime of cultural upbringing and religious prejudice to overcome, and was just about OK with a pork sausage or fried strip. The cheek of a chazer?! Oy a broch. Next you'll be eating its tuchas. Feh.

Re: Food

PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 9:30 am
by NormanD
Ronald wrote:Once in the capital of Guatemala I was eating a hamburger when for some reason I took off the upper part (I had already eaten half of it). To my disgust I saw a big fat worm on top of a piece of lettuce. So I returned the hamburger to my plate and wondered if I had already eaten any.
Cue for very old joke:
Q. What's worse than finding a worm in an apple?
A. Finding half a worm

Re: Food

PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 9:42 am
by kas
I have an experience of stopping at a café very distinctly not looking like one too. We were in Fort Cochin, Kerala on our first trip to India some years ago. We had wandered past the jewtown part of the old town, where all the spice and antigue shops are after, already stopping at a café/spice shop to have coffees, fruit juices and to buy some cardamoms, pepper and what all were they.

And may I point out the coffee they serve in Kerala is almost uniformly delicious.

Then we continued walking around but in that heat we soon became thirsty and tired again. Then we saw a "Café" sign on a house wall, pointing towards a flight of stairs. Up we went, although I expressed some uncertainty about it, the place looking much more like family house than a coffee shop.

We went in, took our sandals off (we saw many other shoes by the door) and sat on a couch by the door, next to a window. Soon an elderly lady with very rudimental english came to us with a small menu. We all ordered lime sodas, received them and relaxed. Then I started to look around. It dawned on me that it actually WAS a family home. There was a large room and a kitchen in the back, with an even older lady looking after some young children. It almost felt like intruding, but as my wife pointed out, they were running a café there and we were paying customers.

The old lady also came to greet us, and the kids came to stare at us and our son, who must have been one of the very few western children they ever saw (he attracted cheerful and affectionate attention everywhere, much to his own discomfort).

After a while, the master of the house also came home. He was the owner of that first coffee & spice shop we had visited. Talk about a family business...

Re: Food

PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:13 am
by Adam Blake
Ronald wrote:Once in the capital of Guatemala I was eating a hamburger when for some reason I took off the upper part (I had already eaten half of it). To my disgust I saw a big fat worm on top of a piece of lettuce. So I returned the hamburger to my plate and wondered if I had already eaten any.


The worm's meat was probably just as nutritious as the cow's.

I once went to a cafe that had no food. It was in Casablanca, Morocco - just along the road from the ridiculously luxurious 5 star Babylonian monstrosity of a hotel in which the promoter had installed the Natacha Atlas touring party (where a cup of coffee cost about a week's wages for the average Moroccan.) We would wander along the road in the morning and get coffee and croissants and soak up the atmosphere. The locals completely ignored us. By about noon, there were no croissants left and the coffee would run out and there was nothing left to eat in the cafe. This didn't seem to faze the locals (all men) who would sit and smoke cigarettes and read the paper and argue in Arabic with each other exactly as if they had food and drink in front of them.

Re: Food

PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:53 am
by NormanD
One of the Behan brothers - I think it was Brian - has written of how he'd go to one of those all-you-can-eat places and pile his plate up with enough to sustain him for the next 24 hours. As a building worker, he was used to putting up walls, so he'd construct an edifice of stuffing slices around the perimeter of the plate and then fill this up with roast meat, pack down spuds and veg and then top it all with gravy without losing a single mouthful. I've a friend who was banned from his works canteen for doing much the same thing at the salad bar.

Re: Food

PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2013 2:13 pm
by Ronald
Adam Blake wrote:
Ronald wrote:Once in the capital of Guatemala I was eating a hamburger when for some reason I took off the upper part (I had already eaten half of it). To my disgust I saw a big fat worm on top of a piece of lettuce. So I returned the hamburger to my plate and wondered if I had already eaten any.


The worm's meat was probably just as nutritious as the cow's.


I know Adam, I know but it is the thought (and probably also the feeling in ones mouth).

On a beach in Guatemala my then girlfriend and I were sitting in the shade under a tree eating a mango when suddenly a pig came up to us. I did not really pay attention but threw it a piece of mango. After it had eaten the piece I saw it from the corner of my eye returning to us, it almost stood on our big towel just a metre away and was coming closer. I looked up at it because I smelled something horrible, then I immediately threw the rest of the mango and 2 others away as far as I could. On this beach people lived in tiny wooden houses, and their toilet was a wooden shed on the beach. I had seen a girl enter the toilet and after she had finished the pig went in. Now when this pig was very close to me I saw that his whole snout and part of its head was covered in liquid orange…….. Later I imagined this friendly pig licking my hand for a piece of mango.

After we came from Guatemala my girlfriend and I had to stay one day in Miami. In town we decided to have a milkshake in a department store. When we sat down at the counter a tall black woman asked us what we would like to have, so I said “Two strawberry milkshakes please”, she then clasped her hands together put them between her thighs bended forward a bit and said: "Ohhh what a lovely accent, where are you from?" I told her we came from the Netherlands and then she again said that it was a lovely accent. She then asked me if I would to say it again, so I said “Two strawberry milkshakes please”, she again went “Ohhhhh fantastic". She then called over some of her colleagues and said "please just one more time” so I said it for the third time, which pleased her and the others immensely.

In restaurants etc I love to watch the behaviour of others. At the salad bar in a department store here one of the salads was mee with big shrimps, a young Chinese woman was just picking the shrimps out of it, leaving almost nothing for the other customars. I remarked this to my wife rather loudly, this woman then went red in the face and I saw that she was angry but she did not say anything but she stopped and moved on.

At an as much as you can eat Indian restaurant I saw the couple next to us going to the buffet a couple of times but after they had gone again they put as much as they could on their plates and then called the waiter. They told him that they could not finish it because they were so full and could not swallow anything anymore and they would like to take the rest home. The waiter said that the buffet was not intended for that and that others who came for a take away meal had to pay for it, after saying that it would be a waste to throw the food away the waiter gave in and made a big parcel for them. After the waiter left them they stood up, went to the buffet and both took a big plate full of deserts.

But sometimes I have to laugh like when an old lady called me over and asked me to cut her roll in half and butter it, or not believing it when in a cafe in Ireland I saw a guy sprinkling salt on his chips, it must have lasted close to a minute.

When we were eating in that Malagasy restaurant in Paris an other couple had entered. While we were having coffee the owner came over to us and started complaining rather loudly (intentionally) about them."Look at them, they are from Madagascar but they have been living too long in Europe, they also have not finished their meals tsssss. This would not happen in Madagascar tssssss.

When we wanted to leave he put a closed basket on the table saying "une cigar pour madame et monsieur". When my wife opened it we saw that it was full of candies.