“SIR, WHAT you want is authentic Italian. Our chef regrets that he would stick to our recipe and hopes you would consider trying it.”
Now if only every wait staff could feign rejection with an underhanded compliment like that – I do remember a half–smile cracking from the corner of her lips – then this world would be a much better place. One turned down customer at a time.
Having had a lid put on my brewing revulsion towards the addition of cream into their Pasta Carbonara – not to mention the decidedly deliberate omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper – I allowed my slightly damaged ego to order the dish.
It came right after I had devoured a couple of starters – the Foie Gras, a Chef’s Exclusive, and the Thai Beef Salad – and with the first forkful gave me a gastronomic euphoria that screamed in my head so loud, I had unknowingly let out not a few scrumptious “moans”. The decibel level seemed to have alienated – more like, embarrassed – all those at my table that they had considered moving away.
The screams would come with every bite so I knew that it could only be quieted down with succumbing to its whim – asking for a second portion. Usually I would save any repeats to a subsequent visit. But the craving was unrelenting, demanded by my synapses right there and then.
So I did, notwithstanding the wait staff’s eyeballs bulging out of their sockets. Not that I needed those to remind me that I was probably having more than enough. My S$ 80++ tab at the end of the meal told me that.
For the first time ever here in Singapore, I insisted on leaving a generous tip for the servers and pulled them aside to convey a very personal message: “Please tell the Chef that this has got to be the best Pasta Carbonara I have ever had islandwide.” I have a very exacting recipe and expectation, so I felt pleasantly surprised to be so welcoming of change – to not be in control of what goes to my plate.
I didn’t mind the addition of the cream. I loved having my palate wrapped in the comforting nuttiness of parmesan cheese redolent in the sauce. I didn’t miss the black pepper. I didn’t notice the parsley.
And most of all, I didn’t mind the bill.
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