It was like that in Japan although as I was being looked after by my Japanese 'sensei' (teacher) he ordered for us most of the time. What with the language difficulty I would occasionally be served with really ghastly-looking parts of fish (cooked and raw) that I couldn't eat....but I had to be seen to try to eat them. This didn't happen every day but often enough.
Another site "inspired" me for this question, although I was mostly dismayed by people's ignorance, naïveté, and lack of adventure.
A few samples:
We were dining at a nice restaurant in Madrid. It's dessert time and we notice an unusual entry: omas(?) de Santa Teresa (or a similar name). We ask the non-English-speaking waiter what it is. From our grasp of Spanish, we understand there will be eggs and sugar. Ah, we think, some kind of custard.
My companion receives his dessert. Imagine raw egg yolks with enough sugar mixed in to form it into bite-sized balls--seven of them in a nice circle on a plate. They tasted exactly as one would expect. ------
We were in a bistro in Paris where my husband order Beef Carpaccio-little did he know that Carpaccio was RAW beef. He likes his steaks rare but this was bloody! I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner though (what I could keep away from him!) ------
We were in Vienna at the Volksoper cafe. My wife said, "I'm going to be daring and order Gebackenes Hirn". As we waited for our food to come she recalled some of her German from her youth and said, "My God I think I ordered beef brains!" Sure enough that is what it turned out to be. ------
I am sure I am not the only one who ordered ris de veau with limited French, expecting to get some kind of veal dish, only to find out it is sweetbreads! If you don't like organ meats, this is a nasty surprise!
Also, a few adventures with dim sum, where it looked interesting and tasted like paste.
A friend of ours always looks at the menu and orders the item which he does not know. This is how we discovered Andouillette (sp), among others! ------
One year in Paris, we were wandering the back streets near the Marais and very hungry. so we just walked into a small bistro. No English spoken, but that's ok, we manage. I tell my husband that the salad he wants has mussels in it..I forget the French word, but it was not mussels but beef snout!! Luckily I had a big salad with smoked salmon so we shared. Even if I ate meat, I don't think I could eat shavings of a cow's nose!! ------
Several years ago in Florence, my sister and I collapsed at our hotel after a hot day of sightseeing. Wanting just a sandwich and a cold drink to take back to the room, we hit a little snack bar by the gym in the hotel. Speaking NO Italian and having no signs by the sandwiches, I pointed it one that looked like roast beef and cheese. Ordered two.
We were so starved that when we got to the room we just dug in. Well, the roast beef was anchovies and neither of us like them at all! Even removing them didn't work because the salty fish juice had permeated the cheese and bread. Probably wouldn't have been too bad except that when you're expecting to bite into beef and you get anchovies, it's an awful shock. ------
I have a very conservative friend that is a VERY picky eater. The first night in Germany she asked me to pick out a ham dish, without really looking or paying attention to the menu I pointed at something and told her to order it - I thought/read Shinken, but it was really Schnecken - which is snails. I know this isn't really exotic, but to see her face when the snails came out when she was expecting ham was priceless!! She gamely ate them, but vowed she'd never eat them again. My aunt also order Beef Tartare in Holland without realising what it was (raw hamburger with raw egg and spices) she too gamely ate about 1/4 of it before giving up. ------
On my first trip to Italy, a friend and I decided to try pizza. Neither of spoke any Italian but we figured pepperocini must be the Italian spelling for pepperoni. Wrong! We got a pizza with about 6 big yellow banana peppers on it! Neither of us like peppers, so we picked them off the pizza. The waiter kept coming by and smiling at us - well, probably laughing, why would we order pizza with peppers on it only to pick the peppers off and not eat them??? ------
On my first trip to Italy in 1975, I wandered into the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and spied a vendor selling what looked like barbecue sandwiches. Even though I spoke Italian pretty well, I didn't think to ask him what they were, and there was a pretty good size line queueing up to buy these sandwiches, so I figured they must be good.Also, it smelled good - a rich tomato smell.
When my turn came, the vendor took a panino and filled it up with this delicious-looking barbecue stuff and handed it to me in a piece of waxed paper. I took one (large) bite and literally spat it onto the sidewalk in front of several rather amazed people - it was tripe - YUCK! I'm a pretty adventurous eater, but the consistency of tripe I just cannot handle.
Post by happytraveller on Mar 17, 2009 13:35:00 GMT
Heeehehe... Something similar happened to me and my sister in Strassbourg. The waiter even asked us if we wanted the german menu card but of course we said non merci and used the french one. My sister ordered rognon de veau as she thought you can never go wrong with veau... Rognon is Kidney. It smelled like someone had peed on her plate. Eugh
"When life gives you lemons, ask for Tequila and salt and give me a call."
My dad used to tell a very funny story about that Spanish dessert. He and his cousin's husband were hunting and were detained because they were on some countess's land. She was gracious about it and invited them to lunch. The dessert was brought out with much fanfare, as it was the specialty of nuns in a nearby convent. Daddy said he bit into one, realized it was raw egg yolk mixed with sugar and almost lost it. He sneaked the rest of it under the table and held it out to a large dog who was hanging around the table. The dog mouthed and licked it, then abandoned it in Daddy's hand.j
Travelers should do diligent research of the foods of the countries they'll visit, so that they might have a clew.
Sometimes here in Mexico, the servers may bring the wrong dish or not prepared in the way I ordered. I just go with it. So far, never had anything totally unpalatable.
Doña Cuevas once got a trio of homemade tostadas at a fund raiser. One turned out to be Carne Apache. (raw minced beef, onions, tomatoes, chile and cilantro.) No permanent harm resulted. However, that is one of the foods we would never eat from a street stall. It's not even refrigerated.
On my first trip to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, I made a point of ordering dish that intrigued me very much -- "marinated raw snake salad."
As a big fan of sushi, sashimi and African dishes where the raw fish was 'cooked' in lime juice, as well as steak tartare and carpaccio, I did not really worry about the aspect of this dish. I am sorry to say that I was somewhat wrong, because it looked like a snake that had been run over by a lawnmower, mixed in with a little bit of lettuce, onions and some chilis.
I had no trouble eating it, but it was quite unappealing and I would not order it again.
Carne Apache is not precisely raw, as it's a red meat version of all those other foods "cooked" in lime juice.
And refrigerating everything instantly is a fairly recent psychosis.
Agreed with the above; except, I'm talking about meat of unknown origin, prepared in an unknown kitchen, served from an unrefrigerated street cart. It seems the height of folly to eat such stuff. (It's "juicy", as well. )
I'll leave médula, especially "médula viríl", however that is distinguished from just plain "médula", for another discussion.
For some illogical reason, eating ceviche, camarones en aguachile, and raw molluscs (only in the States, in reputable restaurants ) doesn't faze me. O.k.: it fazes me a little, but I love them.
Call me psychotic but call me healthy.
Have you seen Grace Meng's blog, "One Fork, One Spoon", in which she describes eating raw crabs in Korea? Aside from that minor episode, it's still one of my favorite food blogs. tinyurl.com/cqprtf
Its a long standing joke that my stepdad always manages to order cheese on toast wherever he goes. Wherever we went in France when I was a kid he would always try something different off the menu and at least a couple of time each holiday he would order the regional variation of cheese on toast or melted cheese and bread or melted cheese on bread! He has managed it a few times in Spain as well.
My brother is a twit. He goes to France a couple of times a year and he always sees steak tartare on the menu and thinks "ooooo lovely I remember that, thats that lovely steak I love so much" and each time he is served with raw steak and egg his heart sinks as he remembers its not the steak he loves, its the one he really dislikes but forces himself to eat. He must have some mad mental block he has done it so many times.
Of course the most famous misordering story in our family belongs to my Mum.
There were about 15 of us travelling through the USSR in a minibus; we stopped in a small village in the middle of nowhere for our evening meal. My Mum was in charge of the food budget and there wasn't much to spare so she somehow spoke to the restaurant owner about what we could spend and what they could do us for that amount of money. They were really helpful, very excited as they had never met anyone from England and said not to worry they would make us a lovely dinner. There was borsht to start with and then some pork chops and chips. When everyone was finished they said a pudding was also included and what did we want; my Mum pointed to something at the bottom of the menu which had a familiar name and ordered one for each person. The restaurant owner looked very confused and asked if she was sure, yes she was - we had had it before and loved it.
About 10 minutes later out came 15 portions of chips - she had ordered from the "side orders" section" not the dessert section... Of course everyone had no choice but to look very excited and get on with their second portion of chips. But she always wonders if when we left they were laughing at funny English ways having chips for dessert.
We have what is called crudo (it sounds the same thing as carne Apache) in restaurants here. I have had it a few times in restaurants, but I don't think I would order it from a street stall, though. They are crazy about it in Valdivia, it is on the menu everywhere.
Went to the 69 Restaurant again, last night. It's the third time I've been in a week and I just discovered/was introduced to it Saturday before last. This time I ordered the wrong dessert...
After a lovely meal with lots of Special Angkor beer, a little girl came around with what I thought were sweets, waterchestnuts, stuff like that. I wasn't wearing my glasses and so just suggested to my friends that we take four. One of them immediately said no, the other two agreed and ordered three 'pieces'. Turns out they were turtle eggs...
Jesus, I had an exceptionally hard time getting that thing down the hatch, never again. Definitely the wrong thing to order.
We were in Tra Vinh, Vietnam, during Tet. Only one restaurant was still open. None of the waiters spoke anything but Vietnamese (our knowledge of culinary Vietnamese is extremely limited). There was no English language menu. We resorted to pointing at items on he menu and hoping for the best. Which resulted one evening in being given a grilled pig's tail.
There were lovely discoveries on this menu. We made a stab at the beef section and were rewarded by a charcoal grill plus a waiter who grilled marinaded beef as we ate it. Another night we pointed to what we thought were mixed vegetables - and got a string of unlaid chicken eggs. The pig's tail was, alas, just that. It came with no sauce or accompaniment.
Japan is the country where one has the possibility of making endless mistakes. Nothing is what it appears to be. We stayed 3 weeks 'a la Japonais(e?)' so most of the time our food was ordered for us with minimal consultation. We certainly couldn't read any menus (but I can now!). When the food arrived I'd invariably catch my gf's eye and say 'Surprise!' which inevitably meant 'oh god, what's this awful stuff that we must try and eat'....and let no-one tell me that it must have been delicous.
actually can't remember any stories... i guess the main disappointments were when i wanted meat and got sausages (i don't like sausages). else... well, i guess i try most things, and usually they taste nice...
My sister & brother-in-law used to always take vistitors to their home in south Texas to a fairly ritzy restaurant across the border in Reynosa. It was a white-tablecloth place, but its specialty was grilled items done on a little brazier at the table. Once when we went & my sister was insisting on ordering for everyone, I hissed at her not to order the sweetbreads. She always ordered, & we always had to eat sweetbreads and grilled onions. "No, no -- I know what I'm doing", she insisted. You can guess what we wound up eating.
I realise how I am surprised more and more by what shows up on my plate in restaurants in Paris, since most places seem to have abandoned the classics and are determined to do weird things with the ingredients.