Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Water, bread and asking for the check

Unless you go to a posh restaurant when you go to eat out you usually choose where to sit. Once at your table the waiter will come, greet you and take your order. Don’t expect a cheery waiter. They are usually helpful but quiet.
If you want water you will need to ask for it. The waiter will give you a choice of natural or carbonated water (¿con gas o sin gas? —with or without gas?) and you’ll pay for it, usually as if it were a soda. And if you want bread, you will also ask for it and be charged for it.

There are some restaurants that charge you a “silverware fee” (derecho de cubierto) and that includes the
bread and butter. So don’t be surprised if it comes with your bill.
Once I ate at a nice restaurant in Miraflores called T’anta, one of the eateries owned by Gastón Acurio, the m
ost renowned Peruvian chef who also owns restaurants in Latin America, Spain and the U.S.
I chose an “Ají de gallina” (pictured left) and it was delicious. I asked for bread and I found that I was charged 1.
50 soles for it (around fifty cents.) Curious about the name of the restaurant, I asked the waiter what T’anta meant. He answered, “It means bread in Quechua” and I added with a smile, “And you charge for it?”
One more important
thing: Waiters won’t come to ask you how you are enjoying what you are eating; not even once. And when you are finished they won’t come with the bill until you request it. It is considered extremely rude to interrupt or to bring the bill without asking for it. It would mean that they want you to leave.
So get ready to enjoy a delightful meal without waiters coming to cut into your conversation every five minutes. Love it.

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