Monday, 26 January 2009

The Sambuca Comet(h)

When you are from a certain cultural background, it is obligatory to work in an Italian restaurant for a period of your life. It's the law. It is also the law that you serve to non-Italian customers things which they believe to be authentic and which in the trade lingo are affectionately known as Americanate.

Setting shots of Sambuca alight is a typical Americanata.
In the following order, place a shot glass on a tray, fill it to nearly its capacity, add the customary* three coffee beans, then ignite and take it carefully to the proud customer who sometimes tries to impress his guests with his knowledge of Italian culinary customs by attempting to drink the fire. I haven't always been an upstanding citizen (as this story attests) and as much as some customers deserved, in my view, to be burned alive, I have on these occasions always exercised enough self control and compassion to save them from a painful demise (or a trip to A&E). There is also the problem that charred customers seldomly leave generous gratuities.

Enter the rookie.

His heart was in the right place but he was a whingeing and whining moaning Minnie. Always ranting about consumerism, food waste, frequently mentioning the starving children of the world when faced with half-eaten dishes. You know the type: good intentions, flawed execution. Within a couple of days he got on everybody's tits.

When one day a table ordered two Sambucas, (notice the order) the shot glasses were placed on the bar, filled to capacity, beans added from up high, the fuel was lit and the rookie instructed to take them to the impatient customers who 'have been waiting for ages'.

Predictably, he took the glasses, lifted them up, and turned round to attempt to locate the table, spilling some on both his hands. He noticed his mistake, but instead of putting down the shots -'Quickly, customers are waiting'- he went on his mission determined to deliver his payload and so he accelerated, like a comet, through the dining room.

Imagine for a moment you are the customer, and picture a wide-eyed, bewildered young man running in your direction, burning arms outstretched completely ablaze and engulfed in blue flames making a beeline for you.

What we saw was a wide-eyed, bewildered young man, burning arms outstretched completely ablaze and engulfed in blue flames, making a beeline for some concerned looking customers who were receding in their seats with every rapid step taken towards them.

The kid slammed the drinks on the table, spilling some more fire, then stood in front of the customers and performed a sort of flapping Haka for the startled punters, in an attempt to extinguish himself.

When he eventually succeeded, a collective oohh emerged from the entire dining room. Some guests even clapped, though not the ones he was standing by.

The restaurant manager, an elegant older man with many decades experience, stared furiously at us, but then, unable to control himself, began laughing hysterically.

Fortunately for the rookie, this was the early nineties. Had this scene taken place in more recent times he would have no doubt been shot on the spot by some under-cover anti-terror agents.

No tips for us that night.

*not customary

1 comment:

  1. Not so sure about the 'Americanate' since the first time I had one I was at a Greek resturant while visiting family in Germany when I was 13. It was probably Ozzo, I didnt order and was just happy there was a shot for me too!

    I suppose in that case the term would be Germinate?