I can't believe I paid one and half Gs and I'm still Hungry...!!!!
All About Restaurant culture
By Pathum Punchihewa
Nouvelle Cuisine… “Bouillabaisse” let’s translate it roughly, you and me… Its meaning can be unlike anything it sounds like: “I can't believe I paid one and a half Gs and I'm still hungry…!”
Isn’t it a common problem for a man who is unfamiliar with Italian or French food cultures and stepping in to the most expensive French restaurant of the town? Well... Sounds like it’s too much but we have to face the bitter truth sooner or later. It happens.
Why are people afraid to visit a fine dining place like a Mediterranean restaurant or an Italian pizza joint? Simple, they are afraid of being embarrassed. The embarrassment they expect when they drop in and make the first mistake like misusing the ‘fork and spoon' or ordering the dessert first. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But still the fact behind the fear for classy and fine restaurants exists and it makes you avoid the chance of having a good meal.
To go into the best chicken burger joint of the block, do you think you need to speak English? Many of you think so and in that case you've never stepped in to a KFC or McDonalds but my answer is a big NO…! Aren’t these restaurants located in Sri Lanka? Maybe they are international brands but still we are talking about places located in Sri Lanka. Aren’t the workers and waiters Sri Lankans? They might serve a meal on an international recipe but still they are Sri Lankans.
So why are you afraid anymore? You may be unable to understand those words on the menu which only some can pronounce. At least you can speak Sinhala and you can talk with the waiter. Take his guidance to order your meal. He will gladly help you and don’t forget it’s a part of his job. With his help you can avoid the threat of having a high budget ‘coleslaw’ salad and remain starving.
Now there is another fear factor about restaurants - the class. Many teens think if you want to visit a Pizza parlour or a high class coffee shop, you need a classy and expensive ride, a high tech mobile phone, above 10G, French perfume and a pair of ‘Salvatore Ferragamo’ or Italian ‘Gucci’ shoes. Wake up…! They don’t look at your shoes before serving you…! But as a matter of fact, if you go to Rome you have to dress like a Roman. Just forget the expensive ride and other stuff. Wear something nice, something attractive and charming. That will adjudge whether you are classy or not.
Now the other side of the coin, you can ride a convertible sports car and step in to the exclusive pizza spot. But without proper manners and etiquette, you will look a clown in a rich looking suit. Without a little ‘thank you’ to the waitress who served your meal, you will look like a sheer rude rich person.
Table manners… or food etiquette… something everybody should learn. There is always a way to use your napkin in a restaurant. There is always a difference between the water glasses and the wine glasses, and the same between a red wine glass and white wine glass. There is always a difference between a salad fork, dinner fork and a dessert fork. There is always a way to use the knife and fork.
As Sri Lankans, we might be unfamiliar with such things. Those etiquettes weren’t born in our motherland. But remember… the perfect gentleman is unique for any country, any society or any culture. Even when you are having a meal in a paddy field, you need to possess manners and etiquette…!
Learning those things is quite easy. All you need is the talent of adaptation and observation. Then you are no more an outcast in a classy restaurant.
Now, what is the importance of a classy restaurant? Surely it’s not about looking high class. Think about it this way, experiences are one of the most important parts of life. Experience makes you perfect. Even people will admire you for your experience. Having a vast range of experience of food culture or the knowledge about the best joints of the block will increase your reputation as an up-to-date man.
No matter what social class you represent, or in what profession you engage in or what emolument you acquire, any star class restaurant or a top food parlour or a fine café always welcomes you. And how you behave in such a place is up to you.
As we all know, a classy restaurant doesn’t mean only a meal. It’s another lifestyle, another culture. Forget the language; forget an expensive car or rich clothes. Be yourself in a restaurant, adapt to the atmosphere inside, do not hesitate to ask about anything you cannot understand and enjoy the heavenly food they provide. They are the only specialists for Mediterranean or Italian or Mongolian food in town. And do not forget to leave a tip for your affable and helpful caretaker or waitress.
Published on Youth Mirror - Daily Mirror (21st January, 2010)