Monday, 30 June 2008

J is for...


J is for...

...Jerk. Now Jamaican Jerk is a combination of chillies, thyme, spices (such as cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves), garlic and onions. And it's quite tasty when used to flavour meats and what have you. But this is not the jerk I speak off. If only we waiters had to deal with just Jamaican Jerk, life would be quite sweet and probably a bit spicy. But life ain't like that. No the jerk I speak off is the guy who wants his steak re cooked as there is a tomato on his plate. He's also the guy who tells you at the start of the meal that he started the tipometer the moment we greeted him. The jerk is the guy who wants to move tables, not because he has a real problem with the first table you gave him, but just to stamp his authority. He likes to repeat this trick with his soup. He speaks for his date and orders for them too. But he saves all his insecurities and hang ups for the waiter. He loves to, try, and make himself look big in front of the "help". He fails almost every time. You can try to preempt the jerks complaints and ensure the soup is piping hot, you can give him the best table in the restaurant, you can ensure the wine is served at the optimum temperature but it's all entirely pointless. He is a Jerk after all. Not to be confused with the lovable Jerk as played by Steve Martin,
"Waiter: Would monsieur care for another bottle of Chateau Latour?

Navin: Ah yes, but no more 1966. Lets splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you've got - this year! No more of this old stuff."

Quality.

it's also for...

...Jam & Jus. There was a time in restaurants when food came with either a sauce or a gravy. These were simpler times. Not necessarily better times but certainly simpler times. Sauce or gravy, magic moments. You could choose your sauce by colour, red and brown being the most favourite. Gravy was mostly brown and tasted of meat but liquid meat. There were of course fancy sauces such as pepper or even garlic for the people who liked olives and had not only been to France but liked it. But then chefs got cocky. Sauces and gravies became old news, meat flavoured liquid wouldn't do. So it was out with sauce and gravy and it was in with Jam and Jus. Instead of brown, beef flavoured gravy we were offered jus. Jus is of course the most mispronounced word on the menu. Jus, you will be dumbfounded to hear, is the French word for juice. A dish that is served au jus is served with its own natural juices. But most often it is touched up a little with some fine Knorr product or other thus making it, wait for it, GRAVY! Emperors new clothes! And where once you got chilli sauce with your fajita or chicken you now get chilli jam. It's the same bloody thing but wankier. But now even jus's and jams are old hat. These days it's all foams and essences. You could say they are now yesterdays jam. You could say it, I can't be mithered too.

and...

...Jenga. There are few things I hate more than playing Jenga with a stack of plates. Why, I hear you ask, would I be playing Jenga with a stack of plates? Well I never set out to play Jenga with a stack of plates but with one thing and another it happens. Not often, but it still happens all the same. Some guests, not many but some, like to help. And whilst I am very grateful for the thought I really do prefer that they don't, well not when it comes to the clearing of plates. If you really want to help then tip more. (You really are relentless - LMM) You see, some of them try to help by popping their plates on top of the carefully balanced stack you have perched on your left arm. If they knew how fucking precarious the whole business was they would go to the toilet when the waiter was clearing the table. I mean I've come close to stabbing more than a few guests in the eye with stray steak knives. No, the clearing of tables is a one person game and the help, no matter how well meaning, is the exact opposite. This also applies to the delivering of drinks. Im not sure if it is an attempt to help or just a lack of patience but the fookers that grab their drink off the tray are just asking to get a lap full of beer/wine/flaming Sambucas. We are dealing in millimeters here people, one wrong move, one drink lifted off in the wrong order and it's wet trousers, ruined shirts, and grumpy waiters all round. This is all something we want to avoid isn't it? Isn't it?

K is for King and for Kumquat. They may not actually feature but I do like the word Kumquat.

22 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

savannah said...

jam & jus i love it, sugar! how insanely funny, yet so true! why does everything have to ge4t so (i love this word) mucked about these days? i blame the chefs! xoxox

(did you really think the final was boring? yikes, babe! i spent the last bit standing up screaming my head off!)

Anonymous Boxer said...

ruh-roh - I'll stop "helping" with the plates.

I like the word Kumquat too - that's what I call my dogs.

bendersbetterbrother said...

Damn you Manuel. I thought I was coming back to tales of teacher woe.
J is for Just spill the beans on the teachers.

Medbh said...

Good call on the foams and essences trend as crap, Manuel.
Foam can be made with milk just fine, but don't make one of tomatoes and shrimps and try to get me to eat it.
Yack.

Anonymous said...

It would be a wonderful day when customers just gave us money and didn't try to help us out. (I know that sounded a bit sarcy, but read it again)

sheepworrier said...

Kumquat sounds dirty...

B said...

I was expecting Jesus to get a look in for some reason.

Conan Drumm said...

Joint - it has so many connotations in the restaurant trade.

Oh, and Jeroboam. A great word and proper bottle of champagne!

Manuel said...

savannah: I thought it was dull......I nearly fell asleep......

boxer: kumquat, kumquat, kumquat.....brilliant word

bbb: jo gotta be joking.......we've moved on....

medbh: and charge you silly money for it too.....

anonymous: que?

sheepo: doesn't it......

b: if you had ever worked ina restaurant you would know that there is no jesus......

conan: Jeroboam is indeed a good word......I could go a jeroboam right about now........

B said...

If there's no Jesus does that mean the romans were imaginary too? I always knew jews didn't exist, but not the others.

Jobless in KC said...

I thought they appreciated it when I helped with the plates. Ooops!

Manuel said...

b: no just jesus......

jobless in kc: no, no and stacking them at the end of the table is just a huge pain in the ass too......

Native Minnow said...

I have a friend who always stacks the plates up before the server comes and clears the table. What are your thoughts on that? Annoying, or helpful?

Native Minnow said...

Nevermind, I just read jobless' comment and your response. That'll teach me to comment before reading the ones that are already there.

Medbh said...

Hey, I just saw your comment over at the Guardian for the post about annoyances dining out.
Hee.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I've been to a few mid-range restaurants whose menus proudly announce with nonchalant redundancy that such and such a dish will be served "with au jus".

At least once i've seen a menu item served "with au juice gravy."

harried_dad said...

Is it too late to trademark:
vegetables a l'eau reduit
(steamed veggies)
vegetables a l'eau bouillie
(boiled veggies)
chair de la chaleur appliquee
(cooked meat)

Failing that I suspect I am going to soon need a biology degree as steak becomes an extract of bos taurus or somesuch nonsense.

Just tell me you've fried the effing thing and that's enough for me.

Surprised that
Junkie [Chef]
Just Desserts [terrible pun]
Jealousy [how can other waiters compare?]
and
Jobbies [snigger]
didn't make an appearance, but then I guess I have the advantage of only needing to nitpick rather than publish.

Manuel said...

minnow: yup it's a right royal pain.......best just leave it to the professionals.....

medbh: I didn't know you frequented it.....I love it.....! but not frank carson......hehehehe

sam: au jus gravy? bwahahahahaha oh I'm so glad you finally got them......was feeling really bad there for a while.....

harried dad: I have to save something for the second volume!

Deborah said...

I love when menus say "with au jus" Classy!

Manuel said...

debs: I'm convinced some chefs just add a few French words to "classy" up their otherwise dull menus.....

Crispy said...

Kumquat s indeed a good word, but so is koyaanisqatsi. Its some Movie that Percy likes!!

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