Fine Dining Faux Pas

14350573217441Finals are officially over. About time – I can’t even remember the last time I was still in school past my birthday (June 15). Even in elementary school, I always assumed that the whole world stopped school to celebrate my birthday for two and half months. You can imagine the reality check I had when I was expected step foot in a scholarly institution on the most important day of the year. Nevertheless, I acted with striking maturity considering the circumstances so a “hoorah, you da boss” shout-out goes to this 22-year old.

As many of you might have deduced from the Facebook photos of me with someone who looks like a more angelic version of me, my sister Gigi visited a couple weeks ago. Gigi’s the whole package: quick-witted, talented, accomplished, well-informed, and lover of all the finer things in life (afternoon tea, musicals, fascinators, flowers, etc.) She’s the type who won’t shed a tear unless she’s eating a perfectly baked scone with clotted cream at the Dorchester. A right Renaissance Woman indeed.

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When Gigi arrived in Poland, I unapologetically elbowed my way through all the old ladies at the arrivals terminal so I could get to the front of the receiving line and give her a proper, obnoxiously-in-your-face-American welcome complete with pastries. I tackled her delirious, sleep-deprived self to the floor while swinging my breakfast basket into dodging passers-by.

The week we spent together was one big birthday bash. We gorged ourselves on the best pierogi, hiked mountains to pristine lakes nestled in the Tatras, cynically sneered out loud at the predictable Age of Adelaide, and geared up in our best clothes for Legalna Blondynka. That’s right: one of the worst Broadway shows ever was translated into Polish and put on stage as the first musical to ever grace Krakow. I must say, transcribing a song featuring lyrics like, “Omigod, omigod you guys!” into Polish must have been quite the linguistic endeavor.

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Hiking Time With Gigi!

After the show, we had reservations at one of the best restaurants in Krakow: Pod Baranem. It’s one of those restaurants where the waiters are smart and charming and they’re paid for their discretion. A place where the dinners should be framed and displayed on the wall and the drink of choice is not coca cola.

This was all fine and dandy, but I do not have much experience in the art of fine dining. My idea of a proper dinner is kebab. And despite the little plastic forks that Pyramid Kebab hands out, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that putting your face on kebab is much more effective than using utensils. Even so, I tried to be on my best behavior in the restaurant. I secured my knife in my right hand, my fork in my left, patted out all the wrinkles in my napkin, and started rattling off my most charming dinner conversation. Nevertheless, an ensuing slew of fine dining faux pas worked their way into my evening:

1) Dainty flowers. Gigi and I ordered a starter of spinach-filled pancakes. The waiter asked if we wanted two orders, but I told him one would suffice. I was so impressed with myself that I had actually chosen the smaller option. I exclaimed to Gigi a little too loudly and enthusiastically: “Our waiter thinks we’re dainty flowers because we’re splitting a spinach pancake!” Darn staff can sneak up so stealthily at times.

2) Spinach slingshot. The creamy spinach pancake arrived in front of us. Gigi expertly shoveled a little piece onto the back of her fork in the most correct way I’ve ever seen. I wanted to prove that I could eat spinach pancakes with class, but I got a little over-confident. I shoved too much spinach on the back of my fork and my shaky, unstable wrist gave out, flinging the spinach across the table to Timbuktu. It landed all over the starch-white tablecloth, the wine glasses, and the elegant candlestick. Tide-to-go pens do not always save the day.

3) Aggressive Meat Demand. After finishing half a pancake and hiding the massive green blotches with every available object in sight, I started to get hungry again. I broke character as a dainty flower on accident and jokingly pounded my fist on the table and shouted to Gigi, “Where’s my steak?!” Again, waiters can sneak up so stealthily at times. He timidly responded that my steak would be out in a few minutes.

4) Crawling under table. After my melt-in-your-mouth Barbican steak and raspberry cake, it was time to pay. Gigi paid the bill while I pretended to shuffle around my purse looking for my wallet. In the process I dropped 10 grosze on the floor (~$0.03). I started to search for that, and eventually crawled on all fours under the table to pick it up.

Case in point: no one should bring me to a fancy dinner. I’m a loose cannon that cannot be trusted. It’s not that I don’t try. I do try. In fact, I try really really hard, which is probably the saddest thing of all.

So with all this in mind, I do want to thank my lovely sister for putting up with all my shenanigans. She’s the most charming and unpretentious person I’ve ever met, and she still manages to find endless humor in my failed genuine attempts to act on my best behavior.

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