November 16, 2009

Adventures in Eating!

I just picked up "Waiter Rant" when I was at Borders the other day - have you heard of it?  Apparently an anonymous waiter began a blog in '05 or '06 about the perils and pitfalls (and the occasional perks) of waiting tables.  I started following the blog about a year ago - right before he became "known" (you can't put out a book and still be anonymous!).

The book is fantastic!  The author's name is Steve Dublanica, and he's a natural writer.  He gives a little backstory about how he studied in the seminary, majored in psychology, and somehow became a 'career' waiter.  It sounds like he was really good at it, even though he may not have enjoyed it all that much.  The characters he encounters are, well, characters.  I can tell you right now - I wouldn't last ONE DAY in the restaurant industry.  I get annoyed with people telling me they didn't get their paper last night - how would I handle them telling me they're food's cold or that they 'got sick' on the food, so they want a refund?  I'm seeing red just thinking about it!

But speaking of getting sick on the food, there is one section in the book that was fascinating to me.  Mr. Dublanya starts off by telling a cockroach story, and it devolves from there.  Seriously - if you are faint of heart or have a weak stomach, DO NOT read this book!  Of course, he has many points - if you have many people in one area, there will be critters, sometimes brought in by patrons themselves.  One of my favorite anecdotes was one of a well-to-do woman (the restaurant is very high-end) who sent her whole dinner back because there was a hair in her salad.  Now, that IS gross, but it turned out to be her own hair.  So the restaurant had to throw her whole dinner in the trash just because of that.

Okay, I'm going to tell you a little food story now.  It's been six years since it's happened, so I can now step back and totally appreciate the humor of the situation.  At the time?  Not so much.

Labor Day weekend of 2003, I took a trip to Toronto - by myself.  Now, some of you may not think this is a big deal but for someone who didn't get her license until the age of 24 and didn't pump gas until some years after that, this was a a major thing.  I was separated from my first husband and I thought this would be a good litmus as to how I was going to fare as a single woman, and prepare myself for the fact that I may be vacationing by myself for a while.  It was all terribly exciting.  I chose Toronto because I know that city well and I feel very comfortable there - it's my favorite place on Earth.

The first leg of the trip went off without a hitch!  I got to Toronto, found a cab right away, got settled into my hotel room and ventured off to the College Park area of town.  I was on a mission.  I wanted to recreate one of the best dessert experiences ever at a place called Fran's.  Fran's is this wonderful diner that's been around since (I believe) 1941.  It's just one of those places where you instantly feel at home.  So I settled in with my book (I was alone, remember) and my dinner and had a marvelous time.  I really felt strong and independent.  I'll show the world that nothing can stop this girl!

And then dessert arrived.  Oh, Fran's rice pudding - served warm, so unbelievably creamy and spectacular - the perfect comfort food.  It was nirvana.  I was savoring every bite and then


Oh my god - I think I just lost a tooth!  I really panicked - I spit out my mouthful as politely as I could, looking around to see if anyone was watching me and trying not to draw attention to myself.  Sure enough - when I looked in my napkin, there was a tooth staring me in the face.  Now I REALLY sweated, and felt my whole mouth with my tongue.  Everything seemed fine! 
"What'sgoingonhereomygodIthinkthisissomeoneELSE'stooth" was the only thought racing through my mind.  So I very cautiously picked the tooth out of the pudding and examined it.  Sure enough, it was NOT MINE.  I studied it for a while, not really knowing how I felt about the situation.  I was most certainly repulsed, but not to the point of nausea.  I think more than anything I was mad because I had no one to share this moment with!  Had I been with my husband I think we would've been in hysterics and I would've certainly had the courage to ask for my money back.  But things being as they were, I just asked for the check and left.  I found myself smirking on the streetcar ride back to the subway station.

Then, for a long time, I didn't tell anyone about it.  I can't remember if I was afraid to sully Fran's reputation or if this was just too creepy to discuss.  But now that some time is behind it, it's one of my favorite stories!  I mean, it is pretty funny.  But only six years later.  I only wish I had had the presence of mind to take a picture of it!

*An interesting side note:  When I finally told my sister the story, her first question to me was, "How did this happen?  Was someone standing over the vat with their mouth wide open?"  And she proceeded to pantomime her imagined scenario.  I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time.


  1. Can I just say Ewwwwwwwwww? This is probably not the book for me. Just like that comedy movie about restaurant workers a few years back that made me nauseous just watching the trailer :D I could just feel you crunching on that tooth. ICK!! :P

  2. Yep, Carolyn, it was pretty darn gross! :D Thankfully, the book doesn't go into sordid details about the types of things waiters do to insolent customers' entrees - and that's fine with me. :D
    P.S. That movie, "Waiting", was such a waste of time! There's two hours I'll never get back. :D