It’s a deep mystery to me how people can be so categoric and decisive about what they eat for their appetizer and their entrée, but when it comes to dessert they lapse into a coma.
Thus I will take an order which goes something like this.
“I will have the watercress salad but NO endive and the dressing on the side” (Don’t you love it when they deconstruct a dish?)
“Then I will have the pasta, but the peas must be on the side. Oh and I’ll have a cup of coffee now. Decaf and regular. And be sure to pour the regular in first.” (You’re joking me right?) “I want milk and not cream. Do you only have Splenda? Don’t you have Sweet and Low?”
The tuna must be seared (this is said threateningly) “or I won’t eat it”. The New York strip steak must be medium to medium rare…Actually more on the rare side. NO butter on the asparagus but I want pommes frites with mayonnaise. The bronzino (a Mediterranean sea-bass) must be feelaid (sic) because she can’t stand the little face looking at her.
“Are you sure there won’t be any bones? I am allergic to bones!”
I go to the computer and type in a modification: Allergic to bones. There are snorts from the chef.
The strip steak comes out as per order but the eyes roll back.
“Oh ew! That’s far too bloody!”
This means that the strip must be taken to the executive chef, the kitchen must be notified that there is a reheat for position one on 43….it’s a megillah.
The evening goes according to plan. They have finished their bottle of Moët (without leaving a thimble for me), and I have been instructed to open their dessert wine.
Now comes the part of the script where I say
“Would you like to see the dessert tray?”
The tortuous ritual that follows is as intricate as a Japanese tea ceremony.
The response to “Would you like to see the dessert tray?” is complete silence.
There is an exchange of coy glances.
Finally ”Well we’ll LOOK!” Mrs Queen for the Day allows.
I return with the heavy ornate silver tray on which are seven desserts.
“May I tell you about them …er…sir….ma’am?”
Sir and Ma’am have locked fingers and are gazing into each other’s eyes. I am seeing a pair of humans morph into llamas.
“Oh Hon! Here’s the tray!” she squeals. The llama has morphed into Miss Piggy.
“Are they fresh?” she demands bossily.
I explain that they have been made on the premises by our pastry chef who used to work at the Algonquin in New York. He is known for his fabulous creations.
I then proceed to give a brief description of every dessert.
After I have done so, there is more silence. In fact the silence is as thick as a roux.
More glances are exchanged. Deep. Meaningful. Glances. I could polish the fish-knives on the Titanic while waiting for them to come to a decision.
My eyes dart around the room. I take mental polaroids. The bloke at 45 is scribbling in the air (or having a petit mal seizure) which I take to mean he wants the check.
The people outside are waiting for their first course to be cleared. The octogenarians on table eighty want another bottle of wine opened.
All of which is as irrelevant as last winter’s magazines left in a dentist’s office.
The couple who have skewered me with the lance of their indecision have my full attention.
“What do you think, hon?”
Hon! You’re not torn between the whether you want the Hermes or the Kelly bag.
You’re not even torn between a Lamborghini or a Ferrari.
This is a $7.50 pudding!
“I’m OK….I’m quite full.”
“REALLY? You don’t want to share one with me?”
“Well maybe I’ll have a bite….”
“Well then YOU pick….”
“No, YOU pick….”
“No, its your birthday….YOU pick…”
She sighs like a tiny pair of bagpipes.
“What’s that one again? And what’s that? What’s THAT one?”
This is when I have to call on my acting skills to recite the whole tray again.
Finally they decide on a desert. I order it on the computer and then go and wait for it in the kitchen.
I am verbally abused by the garde manger, a fearless deity in the culinary world.
“Why you here so soon? Hnh? HNH?? I ponch (punch) you if you come here too soon….”
That’s one option. If I wait too long to pick up the dessert from the line it is
”Why you so late? How long will you take to learn. Burra!”
Usually I am able to impersonate a server adequately. I feign interest and do a lot of solicitous hovering.
Believe it or not, I have met and become friends with some of the people I wait on. But these are the ones who know that I am their server, not their servant.
When it’s time for the dessert ritual I give thanks that I do not sell real estate, merely puddings.
If there is such agonising about whether to have a scoop of ice-cream on the pear and ginger tart or whether to have it plain, can you imagine the fresh hells that a realtor must go through?