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Feb 12, 2007 08:25 PM

Do I really look that clueless? [Moved from General Topics]

Granted, I am a 20 year old college student, so I can understand the tendency for waitstaff to over-explain things, but how many times am I going to be told that pommes frites are french fries? Does anybody else get treated like they are wearing "first-timer" t-shirts anytime they venture out from the golden arches?

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  1. Why dont you ask followup questions like "why are they called french fries?" or
    "what makes a tomato an heirloom?" or "what is the difference between a pate
    and a terrine?" etc.

    1. Maybe the waitstaff want you to be ' nice' & make it easy for customers to understand. I'm way older than you, but about a month ago I had a waitress explain that one of the dessert choices was, well, a kind of apple pie (she was searching for words...) & said tarte tatin under her breath to which I quickly replied: tarte tatin, yes, I'll have that! Although I wasn't insulted, we could have saved a few minutes & a bit of effort on her part! (tarte tatin is of course Not the same as apple pie!). Not all of us have the same knowledge of food / cooking terms--somebody else may have been happy having the dish explained.
      Although I did order from an all French menu...

      1. It's frustrating and they should not be disrespectful but waitstaff need to get a read on the relative knowledge of each diner, so I would not take offense - instead, be content knowing that you have a better understanding of food than many people your age. Again, they should not be condescending but It's probably better for them to explain some things to you than to leave others in the dark, since many are too embarrased to ask questions. You can help by asking an intelligent question or two about the food or wine but it goes both ways - you don't want to come off as a snotty know-it-all.

        1. The worst, though, has got to be when a server "explains" things, but is dishing out information that is totally wrong or inaccurate, whether it's a translation, a cooking method, or his/her own rephrasing of a menu item's description.

          1. If the waiter is attempting to be helpful, give them a big smile and say thank you. Be grateful that you have the knowledge. Believe me there will be times when everyone at the table does not know what something is on the menu and each is too embarassed to ask. When the waiter offers up the info, each is pumping their fist under the table. Me, if I do not know an ingredient, i'm asking, that's the only way to learn.

            As the father of a 21 year old, she has fortunately or unfortunately had me as a dad, so she knows more about food then many of her friends. When she has friends over the two most often heard phrases, are "that's delicious" and "what was that?"

            Don't take offense unless they say "do you know what that means?"