I love going out to eat, and one of the big reasons I love it is the complimentary bread. When the complimentary bread arrives, I am ready to devour. My arm is propped to grab the first piece. Call me selfish, but it is just something I have to do. I might drop 25 bucks on an entrée that is only so-so and they can bring it next to the table 3 hours late. I don't care. Maybe it will taste great. Maybe it'll disappoint. Perhaps the portion will be too small or overcooked. I don't even care if the waiter serves it up ice cold, on fire, or marinated in shards of glass. Just keep the free bread coming.
Why doesn't bread and butter or bread with Olive Oil taste as good at home? What's so special about restaurant bread and butter or oil? Where do they get that lightly whipped sweet butter? It is almost as if it were Ambrosia! Can I buy this magical butter somewhere? Maybe they import it from Cuba. It must surely be contraband for all the pleasure whipped inside of it.
Maybe you're like me. The bread-eating becomes a game. How many free rolls can I eat without spoiling my meal? Answer, who cares? I'm going to keep eating bread until the food arrives.
Ask my wife about the bread. Ask what happens when we are at a table for more than 5 minutes and they haven't brought the bread out yet. That's an emergency on the order of an earthquake, hurricane and volcano combined. Damn that waiter. I start nervously looking around for him or her, looking for signs of bread on other tables. Maybe I should give him an extra minute or two. Maybe the watier is waiting for a fresh loaf to pop out of the oven just for me! Then I spot him from the corner of my eye coming out of the kitchen. That Idiot!!! No bread!!! How dare he bring food to another table before bringing my bread!!! He thinks he can screw me out of my complimentary bread and still get a tip?
Another minute will pass. By this time I've already ordered. Still no bread. I'm becoming irrational. I am getting a crazy look in my eye. I'm thinking about just getting up and walking into the kitchen myself to get the bread. Maybe I could mug one of the waiters to wear the uniform and look more "official". Where is my fake restaurant inspector card from the State of Iowa when I need it? Gotta get the bread!!! I plopped out a ton of dough for this meal. I want the bread I have coming to me.
Here is another bread scenario that is dealt with many times. How about when you're dining with 5 or so other people, and the waiter brings out a basket with 4 rolls. What kind of sick, ancient Roman arena contest is this? A shortage of rolls can turn perfectly civilized people into gladiators with steak knives.
The table goes quiet as everyone makes a mental bread roll count via their peripheral vision. A showdown is pending. My mental gears start wheeling. Well, I hope Jeff ate before he came because he's not getting my roll!... Damn that Carol. Five minutes ago she was boring us to tears with her Atkins diet speech and now she grabs a roll? What happened to your low-carb miracle diet, Carol? I hope that pig splits her dress.
On the outside, I play it cool. I drop a line like: “Oh, there's bread. Maybe I'll have a piece. Then again, I don't want to spoil my appetite.” I hope they bought it. They won't see me as a threat for the bread. What a phony bastard I am. A real man would take the last roll, but I'm emasculated by years of politeness programming and social mores. Then it hits me -- "screw it" I think. And I shoot my arm in and grab a roll. Someone will invariably ask "I thought you were worried about your appetite?" I just glare at them and say "Changed my Mind!"
“We could use another basket of bread, if it's not too much trouble,” someone mutters at the table. A sigh of relief comes over me. Not only do I not look like a pig since I didn't ask for more bread, I can start the whole process over again.
Oh The Joys of Bread!!!
Labels: Bread, Etiquette, Friends, Restaurants