And still another story about French restaurants. Today, for instance, I go to this place where they advertise “Sandwiches all day” and ask if I can eat a sandwich and if I should go inside to the patio (where the formal dinners are served) or if they serve them in the bar. The man behind the bar says: “Un moment, je vais voir si il y a de pain” and comes out of the kitchen two minutes later announcing there is no bread and he cannot make me a sandwich. If I like I can go into the patio and order a regular dinner. So I go into the patio. There the menu says “Sandwiches served all day and night” so I ask the waitress for a sandwich. She says that for a sandwich I have to go to the bar, they do not serve sandwiches in the patio, so I tell her “Never mind, the man at the bar says there is no bread for sandwiches”…
“Oh, but there is bread” she says, “they just brought bread into the kitchen, but you must go to the bar for the sandwich”.
“Are you sure” I ask, doubting.
“Oh, yes there is bread; you must go to the bar, we do not serve sandwiches in here.”
So I pick up the bottle of Badoit that I had ordered and make my way back to the bar which is in a totally different room. I tell the man at the bar that the waitress says there is bread and I should order my sandwich there in the bar. The man looks at me angrily and repeats: “There is no bread to make sandwiches; I asked in the kitchen”.
“But the waitress said…” I repeat lamely what she had said to me. The man charges off towards the back of the restaurant with me in tow. I wait while he goes into the kitchen. There is yelling, him, her, and someone else and then a woman I have not spoken to comes out and explains.
“They have brought the bread for the dinners and for the tables in the patio, but there is no bread for sandwiches: we cannot make you a sandwich.”
“Oh, fine” I say, “then I will sit in the patio”
“Are you going to order dinner” she asks rather annoyed.
“Yes” I say, “I will order dinner.”
Now I am not sure I really want a serious dinner; I am not that hungry, I really just wanted a sandwich and a glass of bubbly water (I’m still toting around my Badoit). While they bring me the ice I have ordered for the bubbly, I go over and over the menu looking for something small enough to appear appetizing (I have eaten here before and the servings are enormous for the most part). Finally, I settle on a “Brochetta de poulet avec verdure”… and chose the small one, thinking that a small skewer of chicken should do the trick and if they bring me bread in a basket to go along with it, I can even make my own sandwich. The “Brochetta” comes with a side of salad, which should be perfect for making the right sandwich.
The order takes some time as in all French restaurants, but when it comes, to my surprise it is not like the Spanish “brocheta” which is a skewer, but like the Italian “borchetta” (which in Madrid would be called a “Tosta”) composed of a toasted slice of bread with the chicken and vegetables on top and cheese grilled under the skillet: it is a wonderful sandwich without the top bread, which I always take off anyway: life took care of me and all it is costing me is 3€. I didn’t know I was getting just what I wanted, but Life apparently did. I was delighted, so delighted that when they brought the bill on which they had forgotten, in the confusion of bar or patio, to put the Badoit, I sent it back telling them to add it on: when life has been so generous to me, why should I take advantage of someone’s mistake to steal a couple of euros.