Posts Tagged ‘food’
Cafes are not places to set up a quasi mission control, and the simple act of tipping shouldn’t remind anyone who observes it of a full-scale production of The Taming of the Shrew.
These are just two examples that stood out among a myriad of espresso etiquette breaches I’ve witnessed over the past twelve months, the most recent of which involved Mr Lesson 4 earlier this week.
As I pondered his seating sin and cappuccino contravention, it dawned on me that he wasn’t alone in his misgivings, so I decided it was an opportune time to offer a weekend refresher course, with the aim of bringing everyone up to speed on the do’s and don’ts of 21st century cafe culture.
Has everyone switched their mobile phone to silent? Do you all have a pen that works? Good, let’s commence the nonsensical crash course that is Espresso Etiquette 101.
Lesson 1: Know what you want before you are eyeballing the barista
Those big, colourful boards behind the counter that display the menu, cup sizes and prices aren’t there for decoration. There’s nothing more infuriating – in the coffee world, anyway – than standing behind someone who doesn’t have a clue what they want to order until they’re staring into the pained eyes of an exceedingly patient barista.
If you want a small flat white, lock it in as soon as you’re asked what you’d like. If you’re in the mood for a large caramel mocha, accept your caffeine-infused fate and tell the barista you want a large caramel mocha. If you intend to order a Venti triple-shot hazelnut soy latte with a dash of vanilla, slap yourself across the back of the head as you approach the cash register. Your bombastic stupidity has earned you a glass of water. Without ice.
While we’re on the subject of ordering, knowing how to pronounce what you wish to drink is important. Should you feel inclined to order a macchiato, please remember it’s not pronounced mar-chee-ate-o. If there were such a thing, it would be a Cheetos-esque snack, not a coffee.
Lesson 2: A single coffee does not entitle you to a full day of free Wi-Fi
These people know who they are. The individuals who purchase a solitary coffee in order to stake their claim at a table towards the rear of the cafe; out of sight – and mind – of the baristas, but not so far away as to give them a less-than-excellent signal from the complimentary Wi-Fi.
While Starbucks is the traditional haunt of this creature, extreme overpopulation and the resultant infighting has forced many to flee their franchised habitats and seek refuge in boutique coffee shops advertising free internet.
The coffee culture lesson to the free Wi-Fi whores is simple: A $5 chai latte does not afford you any sort of entitlement to sit there for six hours while the last two seasons of Breaking Bad, 134 songs and Green Lantern finish downloading.
Lesson 3: Tether your unruly children to the table
Our third lesson in espresso etiquette is predominantly for parents, but is applicable to anyone who deems taking unsettled children to a coffee shop a prudent decision.
Contrary to what the deluded voices in your head tell you, not everyone finds your munchkins adorable. They are even less endearing when running around my table screaming, as you look on and do nothing but point and pull those stupid “Aren’t they precious?” faces. As ridiculous as it may seem, I was hoping for a little bit of peace and quiet while I finished my latte.
If you can’t or won’t control your recalcitrant toddlers, please tether them to the leg of your table using twine that any of the staff will be more than happy to provide you with. If need be, utilise some form of baby muzzle*, because I can’t handle that high-pitched squealing any longer, and I really will feel bad if I’m forced to throw my half-chewed muffin at your firstborn.
* Author’s note: If such a device doesn’t already exist, I call dibs on the patent.
Lesson 4: One ass equals one seat
This maths lesson is one that, because of its simplicity, shouldn’t even have to be taught. If you find the subject matter boring, please direct your grievances towards the 20-something guy at the cafe, whose struggle with basic mathematics compelled me to run this refresher course.
One bum entitles you to one seat. Uno. Yi. Moja. If you are flying solo with your cappuccino, a single seat is all you get. Your laptop bag, backpack and filthy, stained sneakers don’t have an ass between them, so they sure as hell don’t need to be comfortable while you spend forty painful minutes wiping dried froth from the rim of your cup.
Lesson 5: Tipping does not involve Shakespearean theatrics
To Lady Macbeth at the front of the queue: To tip, or not to tip, that is obviously your question. There’s no need for histrionics or to wait for an audience to assemble; either do it or don’t do it, but if you opt for the latter, please exit stage right immediately.
I’ve never worked in hospitality, but friends who do tell me one of their biggest irks are pretentious gits who believe their twenty cent act of altruism makes them the espresso equivalent of Bill Gates.
Lesson 6: Lose the hardware
This is an important message to the guy who has set up base camp at the table in the corner. You aren’t an authorised Apple reseller. Everyone in the coffee shop is already aware they make a good product, so there’s no need to spread your iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air out across the table while attempting to synchronise them, all the while shuffling the hell out of your iPod. You don’t look trendy and sophisticated; if anything, you come across as bourgeois and incredibly susceptible to clever marketing. Yes, I noticed the Bluetooth earpiece; did you want me to call NASA and inform them you’re good to go with the shuttle launch?
If you are guilty of any of the transgressions outlined above, I sincerely hope this crash course in espresso etiquette gives you cause to sit back and smell the coffee beans. It’s not too late to get help. If you know anyone who is an offender, please share this article with them. Friends don’t let friends mooch cafe Wi-Fi. Better yet, maybe you should just print out and laminate a few copies; that way, you can hand them out to random strangers you witness committing these espresso atrocities.
For the first instalment of The Dissemination (of Thought) Files, we hit the Mediterranean coast to get down and dirty with Cakes McCain on all things Italian, including Fiats, foreplay and Mamma’s tomato sauce.
In today’s interview, I speak to Amy, author of 2012: 365 Days a Year and self-confessed crazy M&M’s sorter. Our chat has a bit of everything, from an intellectually stimulating volley about frog legs, to a pitiful request for a crisp Ben Franklin. Oh, and theses guys and their friends make a guest appearance.
Lyndon Keane (TDoT): I think I ran into your car when I was parking. How often do you use your right-hand side mirror while driving? It’s currently sitting on your letterbox.
M&M’s Amy (M&MA): Is it the whole “right side of the road” concept that gets you? No worries on the mirror though; I don’t often worry about what’s behind me because I tend to focus on what’s in front of me. You know, what I can see, touch and taste.
TDoT: What you can taste? While you drive? You don’t lick the little pine tree air freshener, do you?
In your post “Amy’s Top Ten Gross Foods”, you give frog legs the number nine spot with the justification that eating the legs off something that “croaks and pees in your hand” isn’t right. Have you ever been to a French restaurant – or Taco Bell for that matter – that let you play with Kermit’s relatives in order to select which ones you wanted to form your amphibian entrée?
M&MA: French? No, I’m Irish. And who hasn’t made a run for the border? Especially after a late night of drinking, since Taco Bell is the only place other than McDonald’s that’s open. Haven’t you seen all the eye-catching pink goo they use to make their McNuggets on Yahoo News, or the article about the teenager who hasn’t eaten anything but said nuggets since she was two, and was hospitalised because of a lack of nourishment?
Author’s note: no, I don’t have any idea how we got onto the topic of McNuggets, either.
But back to your question. I guess with enough hot taco sauce, even amphibian could taste good. That said, this coming from a girl who uses Bambi meat to make her tacos.
TDoT: Is it just me, or do the frog legs in the article photograph look like the bottom halves of severed anatomical models?
M&MA: Freaky, isn’t it? At first glance, it made me think of Barbie dolls that had been broken in half. You have to give the frog legs props though, look at those muscles.
TDoT: Let’s talk M&M’s. You mention on your blog that in order to eat them, you need to line them up two by two in colour-coded harmony; does that make you some sort of chocolate candy Noah?
M&MA: I ask you Lyndon, what would possess anyone to put an odd number of M&M’s in a packet, and why would you not ensure that there were the same number of each colour?
TDoT: Do you ever feel sorry for the leftover ones that you throw away? Those Mix Ups with 3 different types of M&M’s in the packet must really fuck with your head.
M&MA: Yes, especially when nuts are involved; they just roll all over the damn place instead of staying put, squirrely bastards that they are.
TDoT: Tell us about the CDO, your version of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Does having to alphabetise self-diagnosed conditions present any difficulties?
M&MA: Only when I’m at a barbeque and there’s no silverware. Actually, I think it’s more of a hindrance to those around me; I drive my assistant crazy because, for me, everything has to be in a specific order, whereas she prefers random clutter.
Probably the most difficult aspect for me is eating. I’m a section eater and am very texture oriented. For instance, if I’m eating steak and chew even the slightest bit of fat, it’s no more steak for me. Never mind that it’s only the second bite, the person who gets an almost whole steak to eat never complains.
TDoT: In one of your older pieces, you got very philosophical when you asked “When is new not new anymore?” What’s the answer? I promise if I knew when new was no longer new I’d tell you.
M&MA: The short answer is once you take the tag off, use it, wash it or wear it. Of course, this answer all depends on what one is referring to.
TDoT: You make reference in one post to a soldier who “decided to desert his dessert in the desert.” Are there any cakes, confections or puddings that you wouldn’t feel bad about leaving in the middle of the Sahara?
M&MA: As strange as this may seem, chocolate cake. Sure, it’s a staple among desserts and although I love both chocolate and cake, I do not love them together. Of course, even more horrid – I absolutely love that word – than chocolate cake is tapioca pudding. It looks as though someone sneezed in the pudding and stirred it in to hide the evidence. Again, it’s a texture thing.
TDoT: So you’re against interdessert relationships? Never mind. Can I borrow $100?
M&MA: What will you give me if I do, Lyndon? I assume I can call you Lyndon at this point, seeing as you’re attempting to “borrow” more than few of my hard-earned bucks.
It’s not that I mind. If anything, I am appallingly giving, so much in fact that if someone asked for the shirt on my back, I’d probably hand it over, so long as I had another one on underneath. After all, you can always put more clothes on, but you can only take off so many before you start offending people. But why not go out of your way for someone else on occasion? Is being genuinely nice to someone else really that hard? I don’t necessarily believe the whole “do unto others as you would have done to you” credo, simply because for most people, it means nothing to them. For others, it may not be in a positive way.
Isn’t it fascinating how most people use the term “borrow” like they’re actually going to give whatever it is they took back? Why not just say, “Can I have?”
TDoT: Okay then, can I have $100? No? One of your nicknames growing up was Vera Bubbles. What was all that about? I’ve got an image in my head of an 83-year-old stripper.
M&MA: Are we talking male or female stripper here? And you think my CDO is strange. 83-year-old strippers do not form any part of the image that comes to my mind.
The nickname stems from seven fun-filled days of walking through the woods, avoiding banana spiders, swamps and other assorted creepy crawlies at summer camp in the 8th grade. One of the camp counsellors, who – judging by how short his shorts were – could have been mistaken for a much-younger-than-83-year-old male stripper, had a hard time remembering names. Apparently Amy is harder to remember than Vera, so I was dubbed with the nickname Vera.
The second part of the nickname was given to me by my bunkmates, as they seemed to think I was the bubbly one of the group. The most likely cause of my bubbly disposition was what makes the hearts of all 13-year-old girls go crazy and their hormones run rampant: the tall drink of handsome that was Tim, our hot, hot counsellor. At that moment, Vera Bubbles was born.
TDoT: Thank you for joining me today Amy, and for the $100 I took out of your purse when you were ranting about McNuggets.
Next week, The Dissemination (of Thought) Files puts the author of the always insightful, occasionally controversial Impassioned Rantings of an Unbalanced Mind under the microscope, in an attempt to ascertain who actually did steal the cookie from the cookie jar.
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I’m penning this (sort of) as I scrutinise the contents of my refrigerator, trying to ascertain what gastronomical marvel I can create with the ingredients that are staring back at me. After being away for 3 days over the Christmas long weekend, I’m being accosted with forlorn stares of loneliness from the items currently residing at Casa de Fisher & Paykel. Shit. There won’t be a Michelin star coming my way anytime soon. To bring you up to speed, I’m currently eyeballing:
- a near-empty jar of Vegemite
- a bottle of soy sauce
- three feta-filled olives (which are disappearing as I type this)
- an orange
If I open the freezer door, we can add coffee beans and a bottle of vodka to the list.
Given that a vodka-infused orange isn’t a recognised meal, it’s probably an opportune time to highlight 4 signs that indicate you need to go shopping.
1. You spend considerable time trying to work out what ingredients in your fridge you can combine to create something that passes as a meal
I just realised that I have a box of Coco Pops, but I’m lacking milk to add to them. I could eat them dry, or I could attempt to drown the grains of chocolate bliss with a 2009 Barossa Valley Shiraz. In executing the latter plan, I could determine once and for all if my “Shirazco Pops” concept is commercially feasible.
While your family and friends may assert that you can win MasterChef 2012 with your ability to create innovative dishes from seemingly mismatched ingredients, soaking Froot Loops in red wine is never, ever going to secure you a cookbook deal.
2. Vodka and soy sauce are two of the aforementioned ingredients
3. You can’t remember buying some of the stuff in your fridge
There’s an orange in my fridge that represents all the fruit and vegetables currently in my apartment. I’ve got no idea whether it’s a Valencia or Navel, but a variety-specific identification of the little ball of citrus isn’t relevant to our discussion. The point is, I have no recollection of purchasing it. I’m not usually an orange kind of guy, so I’m going to have to assume that I got it when I last had Southern Comfort and Coke.
If you get to the point of having random citrus in your refrigerator that you can’t account for, it’s time to get reacquainted with your local supermarket.
4. You are on a first-name basis with the proprietor of the local Indian restaurant
In the last 7-day period, I’ve had Indian delivered on Tuesday and Thursday, while Friday saw Thai added to the rotation. I was away on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I’ve got no doubt that I’ll be getting another curry for dinner tonight, and I’m reasonably confident that if I went a week without placing an order, the restaurant’s owner would call the police and report me missing.
If your collection of menus for local restaurants outnumber the individual food items in your fridge, or worse, you have speed dials allocated for them in your phone, you need to go shopping. Urgently.
Should you ever find yourself asking, “I’ve only got expired milk and oregano left, I wonder if I should go shopping?”, the answer’s in the question. Remember: breakfast cereal and tequila sprinkled with hundreds and thousands do not a meal make.
There are a myriad of questions in life that beg to be answered. Will I ever find true love? What’s the meaning of life? Why do I keep reading The Dissemination of Thought? Today’s TDoT post seeks elucidation on another of life’s mysteries. A conundrum that has never been examined until 9:47am on 12 December, 2011.
This can of Coke is seemingly identical to the dozens of others that have resided in my refrigerator over the past 11 months. It holds 375mL of sugar-saturated liquid and reminds me that had I purchased it in South Australia, I’d be entitled to a 10c refund. The characteristic that differentiates this can from those that have gone before it baffles me. It’s empty. Logic would dictate that I must have put it back after I’d finished it, but my motive for doing so eludes me.
Why the hell is there an empty can of Coke in my refrigerator?
What’s the strangest thing you’ve found somewhere that it shouldn’t be?