Friday, September 6, 2013
September at Pachamama (2) Chaotic Tuesday
I enjoyed chatting to the customers: out front, there were two girls from near Rome, one of whom ordered a Guinness. But I told her it was bottled and didn’t recommend it. It tuned out she had spent a week in Ireland in August. She loved it and wanted to relive the ‘taste’ of Ireland with the Guinness. The next couple had had an aperitivo – ours is abundant, consisting of three different plates of antipasti bites. They saw the dishes arrive at the girls’ table and asked me if it was also a restaurant. Also? They had thought we only did aperitivi, and were most impressed with the menu – and the chocolate brownie and almond semifreddo which they had for dessert. Upstairs it was chaotic. The covered terrace was full and the room upstairs was getting busy, with a couple sitting on the balcony. As I went to take their order, the waitress muttered that aperitivo could no longer be served as the restaurant was too busy and the three-plate aperitivo blocks the kitchen. The lady on the balcony insisted on having the aperitivo. “This is why we come here, we always have it, and the mna below told us we could have it.” That will be my inconsistent husband, I thought, as the waitress will have been passing on his decision. I recognised the lady and she was somewhat placated by this, and wanted to know who I was. She thought I was just the foreign waitress, I could tell by her indignation. I sent up my sister-in-law to tell her we had a wonderful selection of anti-pasti, seafood-based, and vegetarian. People were arriving by the minute and of course, none of them had booked. We decided I would take the orders (which meant setting tables and bringing water and wine too), while the waitress brought dishes out from the kitchen. My husband had our bambino downstairs at the bar and looked after cocktails and drinks and meeting people. We had no one to babysit as he had to call his mother and ask her to help in the busy kitchen! There was a lovely Chinese couple, Pachamama’s first who have been living in Germany for almost a year. It was nice to meet them as I’m reading Jamie Ford’s “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” about a Chinese boy in Seattle. They looked the book up immediately on their Smart Phones. There was a lively international table on the terrace too, all students of Italian on a two week course. An Austrian woman had booked the table. They wanted to speak in Italian to me until we realised that most of them were English speaking. Their enthusiasm when the pepata di cozze (peppered clams) arrived was rewarding. They even took pictures of it. I didn’t get to see them again until dessert, when they were so curious about Grappa that they all wanted to try some. I recommended the Malvasia and Passito, sweet after dinner wines, as I think the Grappa is too strong, but they were in high spirits and wanted to go for it. Lots of fun. My mistake was that I took a couple’s order on the terrace before an inside table for 4. They glared at me and I knew immediately that they weren’t laid back foreigners who would forgive my gaffe. “You’re from Milazzo”? I said, to warm them up. “Nooooo,” they said, “Barcellona”. It’s not a million miles away, just 10, but I indulged their desire for difference. “I teach in a secondary school there,” I said. “I’m a much better teacher than waitress.” I got a few reluctant giggles, as I apologised for their wait. When I went to check on them after their meal they were much more relaxed and even complimented the cuisine. My sister-in-law’s mistake was to pocket an order I gave her to take down to the kitchen and cash desk so that I could get on with taking orders upstairs. She forgot about it and half an hour later asked me where the order was, that no one had a copy of table 5 terrace. My mind went blank. I couldn’t even remember what they had ordered, but I knew they were the nice Umbrian couple whose order I had taken before the Barcellona table. Their food should have been on the table by now, but they still didn’t even have their drinks. Mea culpa? I was sweating by this stage. My husband and sister-in-law were giving me the dirties until I remembered that she had the order. Didn’t take a fizz out of her, she just stuck it on the cook’s order hooks and told him to get it out pronto.