Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hot Dogs in Madrid

OK, I realize that eating a street vended hot dog for your first taste of Madrid may not seem like the best thing to do, but you sir, yes you, just try and stand in front of a place with a sign that says "Perritos Calientes" and NOT buy one. Not to mention, they take soft, uncut hot dog buns, stick them on a toaster pole and toast the inside of a hot dog sized hole, then they dip your dog in ketchup and slide it into said toasty hole.

Now that this little treat is out of the way, I am doing to go stand in the middle of SOL, close my eyes, turns around till dizzy, walk straight, and eat jamon at whichever jamon bar I run into.

music of choice for metro ride: U2 - "War"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This is why I don't eat out in Los Angeles

You'd think that a town with as much going on as LA has, that it would be a mecca for fantastic food. The truth is, it may be, but I can't get past the sense of entitlement that conflicts with the ability to do the job that food servers have in Los Angeles to find out. Last night, I find a great looking diner (although one whose entire identity is built around being run by hipsters) and a good looking menu. My friends order food but my eye is drawn to the milkshake.

Let me pause here, because this is important. There are two ways to make a chocolate milkshake. One of them is traditional and how the milkshake was born, and the other is the incorrect, Baskin Robbins way to make a milkshake. The correct way to make a chocolate shake is to use vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whole milk. The incorrect way is the same but with chocolate ice cream. I assume that the idea is that it makes it more "chocolate" tasting. It doesn't, since chocolate ice cream tastes nothing like chocolate, it just makes it taste weird.

I have found, that if I assume a place will make my shake correctly is usually the instance in which I wind up with a shake made with chocolate ice cream, so I have learned to specify that I would like a chocolate shake made with vanilla ice cream.

So hipster waitress comes over, funny shaved half head thingy hairdo and multi-colored yoga workout gear on. When she gets to me I say "chocolate shake made with vanilla ice cream" to which she sticks out her tongue, and makes an "ugh" noise as if I have either said I hate Jews or asked her to reconstruct the Great Wal of China using toothpicks. I notice her after she leaves, causally ignoring all customers and hanging out in the back of the joint, only to go talk to her group of friends at a booth at length about her band.

Our food comes in a bit, and afterwards my shake, in all of its glory, made with chocolate ice cream. Amanda notices just by the look and says "that's made with chocolate isn't it", to which I reply "yup" without even having to taste it. Could have chalked this up to a mistake, although an embarrassing one on behalf of the restaurants ability to properly take and execute their customer's order correctly, except for when our "waitress" came back 10 minutes later, look at me with a little squinty gleam in her eye and asked me in a slightly sarcastic, slightly triumphant tone "how's that milkshake?" before walking off.

Albeit five dollars, I'm your customer, and this is my money I am handing over. I didn't ask for anything crazy, and instead of being treated with respect, I was mocked and purposefully given something I didn't want. This is the part where I threaten everyone to stay off my lawn, but had this been an authentic diner, operated by people who work in food service because they are emotionally fulfilled by making their patrons fulfilled, (then they would have made the shakes right in the first place and I never would have had to specify) servers with this kind of attitude would be thrown out on their ass. Look, I know you worked hard to make you outfit look like you dug it out of the trash, and I am sure that working in the diner in Echo Park where they play indie rock all day long does wonders for furthering your band's career, but it does a huge dis-service to anyone looking to get a satisfactory eating experience.

My opinion on work in the food service industry has changed completely since I was a teenager, and I now see it as one of the most important, and if done in the right environment, rewarding careers that one can have. I am currently considering quiting a great job to go serve BBQ to people. This place has the potential to be one of the greatest places to work and to eat, a truly unique atmosphere, but if you let your snarky irony get in the way of SERVING your customers, well then, fuck you. This goes for pretty much every place I have eaten in LA. I should not have to impress you to get good food service, I should only need to be hungry and have cash in my pocket.

The Countdown...

I leave for Europe in less than a week. I haven't done the research that my tummy demands of me to know where to go for the best (bacon) food. Since the entire nature of my trip is that of flying blind, I feel that to research too much would dishonor the spirit of the journey. I'm ready for you Madrid.