As I mentioned in my previous post about my experience in not wearing a mask, I enjoyed a fine dinner tonight with friends, and there was an experience in that dinner that merited an entry. As someone who frequently goes out to eat, I have been acquiring a skill over the course of years of practice in camping at restaurants while both eating and reading. There is a rhythm to how restaurants like to operate, in which there is a cadence to seating a customer or a group of customers, getting drink orders, providing starters to fill them up ahead of their meal, getting appetizer orders and main meal orders, providing the food in stages so that the customers are busy eating and drinking in a timely fashion and not sitting around waiting without something in their glass or something on their plate, and perhaps with a dessert to finish things off. This is, after all, the cadence we saw at the Restaurante Frida where we were eating tonight within our hotel.
Sometimes, though, the cadence goes awry. So it happened at our table. For one, this author is a thirsty man and so my glass had to be filled up with water often, a regular enough occurrence that the people at the table have seen many times. A more serious break in the cadence occurred, though, when our table had received the appetizers that we had ordered. Each of us at the table had ordered at least one appetizer (I had the soup, a tasty sopa del campo that had vegetables in a seasoned broth, but one of our party had ordered the hongos y panceta, mushrooms with a red wine sauce, and some people had ordered a dry salad that came with no dressing, despite there being three different comments about how our party wanted the dressing on the salad). After we received the appetizers, three of us looked at the mushrooms in the red wine sauce and thought that it would make a fantastic topper on the prime rib that we had ordered for our main dish and let the waiter know accordingly.
We soon received our prime rib (which everyone had ordered), and I reminded the waiter of the desire of three of us to have mushrooms to have with our prime rib. The waiter asked if we wanted the steak to be sent back, but we did not want to waste the steak so we said no, but rather wanted the mushrooms separately, so that we could put them on the steak ourselves. And so we waited. And continued to wait. The wait was long enough that we all eventually ate the steak without having had the mushrooms delivered, and so it came time for us to have dessert. Four of our party made choices among the options provided, with three of us getting the cheesecake and the fourth getting the flan, but the fifth person still wanted her mushrooms, and so she told the waiter that she still wanted the hongos y panceta with the red wine sauce instead of the pork, while I translated the request into Spanish so the waiter heard it.
And so we received and ate our dessert while the fifth member of our party had still not received her hongos y panceta. And so we waited. We waited long enough to have our water and wine refilled again. And still we waited. We waited as other tables were seated, as the wait staff started to take away our plates and silverware and were avoiding our significant glances and our desire to have one of them come over to the table. And still we waited, while things were obviously uncomfortable. Finally, we were able to get our waiter to come over and we explained that one of our party still wanted the hongos y panceta, and we asked if it had run out in the kitchen and if it was available. It was still available, and soon, after the fourth time we asked for it, it arrived and the last member of our party to eat was given silverware to eat it with (the silverware having been removed from our table previously), and she ate it and then we left happily if somewhat belatedly. Let us hope that the restaurant does not take our party to be clueless or ugly Americans for simply wanting our hongos y panceta, and being persistent enough to stay until it had been obtained.