To protect the town and the restaurant’s good name, we have decided to make this a general post. To be fair, our language is not the best, and we could have mistakenly ordered an item we were not wanting. This is not a bash of the French people as a whole, just one tiny bad experience among many fine, fabulous ones.
I have been asked to share not just the good experiences while we travel and assimilate to our new environment, but also the bad. This is a not so good experience.
During the last week we run around like mad men looking for the best deals ‘while supplies last’ on the big ticket items for our new accommodation come January 25th. Excited as we are, we have a hick-up with food while travelling about.
We found ourselves 1 hour past lunch with no breakfast, both were starving and getting growly, not just the sound of our stomachs either. Anyone who knows Alfonz and I, know to leave us alone when we are hungry. Our blood sugar drops and we are nasty creatures. Well, we were walking on our blood sugar it dropped so low!
We decided to go to a very busy cafe in a near by town along the Canal du Midi, where we had gone the day before for a coffee. The food looked great, and the line-up was long, mostly reservations, all pretty great inclinations for a good meal to come.
We sat down and listened to the orders being placed around us, Plate du Jour, steak. Sounds good, everyone was eating it, looks good too, a good bet. We will take two please, mine with a cafe au lait and his with a coke. We ask in our broken French. She seemed to understand, pointed at the sign I was looking at the word steak below, and repeated steak, ‘Oui.’
We gnawed at our napkins until the food came, we were famished.
When placed in front of us, Alfonz’s face turned green, and both of us were flushed with embarrassment. Steak? We asked. ‘Non steak, Plate du Jour! Tete de veau ravigotte maison garnie! Veal cheeks in ragu gravy, was the translation on the board behind Alfonz! It looked like fatty raw fish, jello almost with white gravy. I couldn’t take a picture of this without making a scene so I asked on twitter and this picture was send to me.
No he said I asked for well-done steak, he said politely. Sorry for the misunderstanding, well-done steak. S’il vous plait.
Alfonz wasn’t looking well but hopeful they would get it right. Thank god they left the bread, we each ate a piece.
She was choked to take it away from us, but 5 minutes later came our steaks.
It looked good, the fries were hot, but once we cut in, it was raw! Not rare like rare at the Keg, but raw! It was blue inside, in a river of lukewarm blood we simply couldn’t eat. And I usually have a stomach for anything.
I tried to nibble the edges, trying to avoid the raw fat wads on my plate. I smiled politely at Alfonz, looked in to his pleading eyes and asked quietly ‘What do we do?’
‘There is no graceful way out’, he said, ‘I cannot eat this.’
We placed our napkins over the food and kindly asked for our bill. They were insulted, but we tried we really did. I left thinking, they probably think Americans are too good for their food, but it’s not that, our stomachs aren’t used to raw meat. Not to mention 1/2 of it was fat, and stringy bits. I might be able to eat beautiful looking raw meat, maybe even like it, but this was something entirely out of our realm. Sorry France.
We ended up stopped at McDonald’s when our stomachs settled. Thinking, McDonald’s is always fresh even if it is crap. At least we know what we are getting. Today it was particularly unfit. Do not try the chicken, cheese and bacon burger made of dark processed meat. And Alfonz’s was cold to boot. Really cosmic food stars, no luck for the lucky Hamori’s today!?
25 Euros wasted at the first place, the most expensive cup of coffee and piece of bread I’ve had in France, then another 12 Euros at McDonald’s.
I left split pea defrosting for dinner tonight. It is awesome! And it might coat Alfonz’s poor tummy after the crap he ate today! My baby.
All in all, for food, Alfonz and I had a bad day, a really bad day. When we relayed this story to some of our English-speaking friends from England they said it is a common mistake when ordering steak. You must say burned or black when you order, or you will get a blue rare steak, swimming in blood.
We won’t be going there until our French has improved or they forget our faces, whichever comes last, but we can safely chalk it up to lost in translation, end of story!