Have you ever gone into a sit-down restaurant taken one look at the foreign sounding menu and then asked the waitron to select a meal for you? Try it. It’s a great way to test a new place. A few things are going to happen.
One. The waitrons eyes are either going to glaze over like they have just gotten the higher grade science paper instead of cooking theory 101 and they begin to frantically look around for the floor manager. Or, they enthusiastically smile, knowing that if they play their cards right, there is a big tip coming here. If you are lucky enough to get the latter and they are not entirely devoid of any intelligence, they then ask you if there is anything you don’t like. And so the adventure begins.
I like a little surprise with my food. Like everything, the unknown seems to add a little something to the mix. Like a sprinkle of salt.
Two. A starter with a smile arrives. Four apricot sized steamed rice paper dumplings of prawn, greens, rice and chilli. With soy and chilli sauce on the side. The first one catches me off guard, the rice paper is thicker than I imagined. Sticky and doughy (it’s a dumpling doofus) but very tasty. Then they are gone, barely even touched sides on the way down. Hmm. Do I carry my 100kg frame well or has she decided to put me on a diet?
I figure I could afford to lose about 8kgs (+-18 pounds). I have never been the lightest guy in the room (muscle always weights more than fat!) but the spare tyre is getting more than a little embarrassing. Thankfully I still pass the belly rule – when next you are in the shower, stand up straight (I said straight!), relax (yes, that means stop pulling in your stomach) and put your chin on you chest – if you can’t see your junk then you are in deep trouble dude. According to that lovely thing called BMI, I’m straddling the overweight and obese line – but then again even at my healthiest, fittest and fastest (and when a six pack did not come from the bottle store), that bloody useless height weight measurement never worked for me. According to the charts, I’d have to lose 21kg just to get to a ‘normal’ BMI of less than 25 – grief, that’s more than 20% of my body! I have not weighed less than 80kg since sometime in high school. So, I looked around, and there are other ones to measure – like a waist-to-height ratio – with a 36 inch waist, I come in at .501 which is less than the risk factor of a BMI of 25. What gives? I know I could afford to lose more than a few – don’t we all?
Three. Beef strips fried in chilli sauce with red and green pepper strips and sticky white rice. I think the waitron likes chilli. Hey, so do I. Bonus. A bowl later, I ask for another Coke Zero and dab at the chilli sweats, but it’s good. Between bowls, I think she realised this growing boy needed more than a few dumplings, I relax and watch the people wandering past and listen to the music.
I’ve never been much of a music person – I had to look up the bands names below to help me remember. I’m probably a bit of a contradiction when it comes to personal music tastes. Normally I like rock. Any kind of rock. Now rock is a pretty wide variety of music so just saying I like it is a bit of a cop out. Over the years, I have liked everything from Chicago, Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Animals, Simon and Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Joel, Cat Stevens, Queen, Aerosmith, Springsteen, Cranberries, Texas, The Doors, Van Halen, Van Morrison, Santana. When my hair was much much longer (and I still wore earrings) and I could whip my head around without seeing stars I liked the heavier stuff from Iron Maiden, Metallica and Def Leppard, Gun’s n’ Roses. More recently I like things like Nickelback, Evanescence, Three Doors Down… And now for the contradictions. I like listening to things like Enya and weird epic soundtrack music from composers/artists like Two Steps from Hell, Mark Petrie, Thomas Bergersen and Audiomachine. (Go search Youtube for examples of that music) I suppose the only thing I can say is that I like strong emotional music, something that gets your heart beating or makes you feel something. I don’t like rock and really heavy metal that gets to the point of shouting crap (it you want to regurgitate a lung go do it in private where I can’t hear you). I like reggae from the oldies like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and UB40 but not the newer commercial stuff. I loathe rap, hip hop and teenage pop (ok, I confess, sometimes a catchy pop song will appeal but not normally). I like ballads and sentimental stuff, but soppy “oh baby baby” crooning just drives me to the off switch fast. Ah silence.
Four. Cheesecake with an Asian twist arrives. I have to ask, “What’s the Asian twist?” and she replies, “Chefs secret.”. To be honest, it tasted like any other fridge cheesecake with berry coolie that I have had a hundred times… Maybe the chef IS Asian…. could that be the twist? Good and soothing after the chilli invasion – and she tells me she chose the medium hotness – thank “beeep”!
So try it yourself next time. Go somewhere you have never been before and just ask them to chose your meal for you. Go on. Try it, stop being such a stuck in the mud. Live a little.
ps. And the bill you ask? 3 course plus 2 Cokes, R220 ($25). I left her a 25% tip on top.