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On ordering food

You have a menu before you. There are perhaps twelve main courses, such as "slow-roasted lamb shank", "cornfed chicken", "sea bass", and "duck confit". All of them have slightly more prolonged descriptions than that which mention whatever side dishes and sauces are served with the main course centerpiece.

I ordered the duck confit with cassoulet. Being occasionally concise and to-the-point, I merely said "confit" when asked for my order.

When the mains arrived, everyone else received what they had ordered, and, unexpectedly, a piece of roast chicken turned up for me. I really had wanted the confit.

It took the waiter a moment - "Oh! I thought you said 'cornfed'", and attributed it to a British-American confusion. To be fair, the "r" in cornfed does rather disappear with the right accent.

Would you ever order "slow-roasted" and mean the lamb? Would you order "cornfed" and mean the chicken? I'm partially baffled by waiter, and partially really wondering if anyone ever does order their food this way.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
rhube
Jan. 20th, 2006 12:35 am (UTC)
It does seem a rather bizarre interpretation, but I guess this is part of teh reason why I make an effort to point to the item in the menu wherever possible - there seems so much opportunity for error these days, and I'm paranoid.
owlfish
Jan. 20th, 2006 10:50 am (UTC)
Ordering by number does also have its advantages.
alysonwonderlan
Jan. 20th, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
Um...no I don't think people order that way. We went to a nice restaurant and everyone either ordered "the chicken" or "the salmon" for the main dish and "the soup" or "the salad" for the starter (it was an abbreviated menu for restaurant week so there really was only one soup, one salad, one chicken, one salmon and one vegetarian option...on and only one fabulously stunning dessert.)
alysonwonderlan
Jan. 20th, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)
Another thought...perhaps he thought you muttered the word "Chicken"? Like "I'd like the cornfed chicken." And not "I'd like the confit..."
owlfish
Jan. 20th, 2006 10:49 am (UTC)
I wish I could credit the confusion to that. When we were discussing what we went wrong, he echoed back what he thought he'd heard me order: "the cornfed". He didn't appear to be mumbling "chicken" either.
a_d_medievalist
Jan. 20th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC)
What medievalist said. And a good server would have asked if unsure. But normally speaking, as I understand the workings of the English language on either side of the pond, it is appropriate to use the noun in ordering, rather than an adjective or other descriptor.
aquitaineq
Jan. 20th, 2006 04:14 am (UTC)
hahah!!! what a retarded waiter!
violetsaunders
Jan. 20th, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
Non-English speaking waiter?
owlfish
Jan. 20th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC)
He sounded entirely native - indeed, he blamed the confusion on our respective native accents.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )