Friday, June 19, 2009
I know you're not Mexican, but come on!!
I work in a Mexican restaurant conveniently located across the street from my house. Yes, I walk to work and sometimes might have to pause for a passing car or bike rider. I love it. It is hands down the BEST job I have ever had. Why you ask? Low stress, low drama, realistic expectations, no commute, I get to wear jeans & a t-shirt and most importantly, the food.
OH yes, burritos y enchiladas y chiles rellenos y tequila con chips con salsa con queso - muy delicioso! (I took french in high school, so don't judge).
I've been employed by such restaurant for almost a year and I'm still baffled by the lack of knowledge and/or respect for a fairly common type of cuisine. Haven't we all been to a Taco Bell? Haven't we at least seen the commercial? I say this because I don't understand how many people don't know what a burrito is. Here is the typical conversation. Me: "Here's your chicken burrito that you ordered (and presumably read about on the menu). Them: "Where's the beans? I thought I got beans!!!" Me: "Inside". Them: "What about the rice?" Me: "Inside"... and the cycle continues until we've discovered together that freakin' everything is inside the burrito. That's the beauty of it!
Perhaps it is just our location. Pittsburgh, for all of its' strengths, has a pretty sheltered existence. Our Hispanic population really isn't large enough to be called a population. People like their chain restaurants and their packaged food and shy away from anything that seems weird. I am totally over-generalizing - but for some people, it's really true! Our restaurant has a great base of families, couples, etc. from the area that frequent the place and really get it. Then every once in awhile, we see these families drag one of their friends in the door and you can tell they are terrified to be so far from Eat n Park.
Them, "I don't really like Mexican food. Don't you have chicken fingers?"
Me: Silent disbelief.
One lady the other day who absolutely reeked of cigarettes and looked 20 years older than she should have asked a similar question. I had to arm wrestle her to order chips and salsa. I may be a foodie myself, but I swear you don't need a subscription to Saveur to know what this is! I bring out the delicious treat that our chef has made from scratch - roasted tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, cilantro and some other secret ingredients. She dips into it like it might be toxic waste and takes a bite.
Gross woman: "This is nasty."
Me: "I think it's great, we have a lot of people who love it."
Gross woman: "No, it's nasty".
I give the traditional server hate-stare and walk away. I'm thinking, you tell that to the chef who chars every tomato himself and blends it into the family recipe masterpiece that it is! Go back to eating your cigarette and shut up.
But these are the stories that make my job interesting. Whether it's a place that sells pizza out of a window or the highest high-end wine bar - these customers are going to exist. I will continue to discuss the nuances and subtle differences between a burrito and a taco. It's what I get paid for, I suppose.