Saturday, August 2, 2008

Food service in New Orleans

Po-boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
There’s a fly in your soup?
Will there be anything else, Sir?

I’m embarking up a new tree. That is to say, that I’ve taken another job outside the realm of hithertofore, common to myself, acceptable employment behavorable pattern structured lunacy. I am applying for, and will get, a full time, permanent, lucrative job as a………waiter!!
Hey, I’ve got experience! And what’s more, I’m already doin’ it part time! AND, I’m pretty darn good at it!
So, question: why do I want to do it full time? Answer: the ‘Get A Clue Phone’.
Sometimes it doesn’t take an epiphany to change your life. Sometimes all it takes is: “Ring, ring! It’s the Get A Clue Phone! Wanna take this call?”
‘Hello, yes. Uh huh. Yeah, good point. Okay, sure…………..’
(rough translation: I’m makin’ more money workin’ two shifts at my ‘part time job’ than I am in the five day a week ‘day job’ I have).
As I said: “Ring, Ring!”
Besides; the work is relatively fun, positively challenging, monetarily rewarding, mentally aerobic and calls for a dexterity of wit (which I only have half of).
Here I am in the dining room:
“Well Sir, the building was built in 1840, we’re on a foundation of cypress logs and cotton bales. We’re called ‘a floater’. A common misconception is that the Mississippi River has always just stopped at those hills that we call levees. Not so, where you are sitting was probably marsh or bogs, or just plain…swamp!”
“Yes Ma’am, most restaurants serve ‘Pasta Prima Vera’ as their vegetarian offering. Why? Oh, it’s our State Vegetarian Dish. Are y’all from California?”
“We have three specials today; well actually, two specials and one not so special. Here they are……”
“We were, by legend, first a slave exchange and then a brothel. Yes Sir, I understand that you’ve been told that about every restaurant that you’ve been to here. Actually, before restaurants were invented, all of New Orleans was first a slave exchange and then a brothel.”
“Foie Gras? That’s the Friday before Mardi Gras.”
“Bourbon Street? Two blocks that way, No Sir, you are in The French Quarter.”
“No Sir, the chef does not mind suggestions. You think that we should not use iceberg lettuce in our salads? Sir, iceberg lettuce is our State Flower! Are you, by any chance, from California?”
“No Ma’am, Gumbo is not a soup. No, not a stew. Gumbo is Gumbo; it comes from the Swahili word for okra. No Ma’am, our Gumbo doesn’t have okra in it. Yes Ma’am, our ‘Seafood Gumbo’ has sausage in it. That’s a crab claw, Ma’am. Ma’am? May I recommend the Onion Soup? Yes Ma’am, it has onions in it………”
“Sweet tea?”
“Non-smoking section? It’s right here, let me just get that ashtray out of your way. You’re from California, right?”
Here I am in the kitchen:
“Comin’ through! Right behind you! On your back!
Leroy, that’s four salads: one house, two blue cheese and one just olive oil and lemon. Olive oil? It’s that green stuff in a bottle, put it on the side, yeah.
“Who cut lemons today and where the hell are they?”
“Chef, I need table six. That’s no garlic, light spice and steamed veggies. I think they’re from California.”
“Table four thinks that their steak is over cooked. Yes Sir, that looks ‘medium” to me, lets just cook it a little more. Yes Sir, they’re idiots.”
“Is it hot in here or is it just me?”
“Who stocked wines, and where the hell is the ‘House White’?”
Here’s me with the busboy:
“ Yo bro, I need more water to eight, coffee at four, reset table twelve for a deuce, and that kid on sixteen just spilled his coke. Oh, and more bread to seven. Got it? Good.”
Me at the waiter station:
“Comin’ in!”
“Would you believe sixteen bucks on a hundred and fifty? Where are these people from?”
“What the hell is ‘sweet tea’?”.
“Yeah, I told him that the Merlot was a brutish wine with overtones of black cherry, chocolate, licorice, cinnamon, needed to come to terms with its tannins but wouldn’t screw up the taste of his cheeseburger. What did he do? What else, white Zin!”
“Who cut lemons today?”
“Where did you get those ear rings? They’re so damn cute!”
Petit Moi at the bar:
“I need a Fog Cutter, a Leg Spreader. Two Chocolate Margaritas, a Sloe Gin Fizz, a Fast Gin Fizz, a pair of Heinies, a Dancing Pony, a Dead Dog, Cherry Coke, Obituary Cocktail, two shots of Marti’s Crotch and Wet Sex On The Beach.
Just joking, make that two rum and cokes and a Bud Lite. Oh, you’re no fun.”
Back at the tables:
“What an engaging child. Is it yours? Yes Sir, of course it’s a boy. Cute as the dickens, too. May I clean up that spill? My pleasure.”
“ Sorry to interrupt you love birds, you do look, er, ‘comfortable’. Honeymooners, eh? May I suggest wet sex on the beach? No Sir, that’s one of our drink specialties.”
“Well Sir, Jambalaya is ‘jumbled’, Gumbo is ‘gumbled’: same thing, only gumbling requires more liquid. They’re local culinary terms, I think the words originally come from the Swahili language.”
“Yes Ma’am, Creole and Cajun are words from the Choctaw Indians. Creoles were here first, hence, the word ‘Cree-Old’, The Cajuns are the younger immigrants, that’s right Ma’am, ‘Cay-youngs’! Glad to help.”
“No Sir, that only appears to be trash on our streets; actually, it’s land fill on its way to expanding our landmass, also, it’s a gauge to show how much fun we’re having. No problem.”
“Hey guys, can I get you something from the bar? What are Hurricanes? Well, besides being a force of nature, they are a local drink with twelve kinds of alcohol, four natural fruit juices and a Voodoo spell by the bartender. They’re sole intention is to f--- you up. Two each? Comin’ right up!”
Back at the waiter station:
“Eight separate checks! All at one table! This is gonna be a ‘check out’ from HELL!”
“Did you see what she was wearing at table six? What is she thinking, Moulon Rouge? And the beads! Do they want to get mugged?”
“My dogs are barkin’! There must be a better way……”
At the end of the shift:
“Man, am I ready for a cocktail! Okay, but if you see me headed for the video poker machine, slap me; I need to make rent this week!”
Author’s Note: See? I fit right in! Wish me luck

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