The No-Go Zone
I’ve told Carl that if we have to eat out with his parents we won’t be going to a restaurant. Restaurants are a no-g0 zone for multiple important reasons.
Here are the top 12 reasons we don’t eat out with Carl’s parents:
- They will turn up late. The reasons for this are as numerous as they are varied. They lost their car keys. Again. They couldn’t start ‘the jolly car’. They thought we said ‘La Stazione’ and didn’t realise what we said was, ‘Il Peregino’. They couldn’t find any FREE parking. Or, ‘Well we just got talking to the neighbour and ah well, it doesn’t really matter does it.’ But it does matter if you had to drop everything to make sure you were on time and now you’ve been sitting there for over 40 minutes on an empty stomach waiting for them to stroll in.
- We won’t be seated at the right table. If we’re inside the comment will be, ‘It’s a bit loud isn’t it? These bods will all be deaf before they get to my age.’ Or, ‘There’s a chill in here. Are you getting that draught Charlie? I’m getting that draught. It’s coming right down on me. It’s from the air-conditioning. I should have brought my shawl.’ If we’re outside there will be too much sun, too much wind, too much glare, too much heat, too many flies. And, ‘Is that someone smoking? I can smell smoke. Can you smell that? Will he be doing that when we get our meals? How’s that affecting you? No, that’s definitely smoke. He’s definitely smoking a cigarette.’
- They will order shandies.
- They won’t understand the waiter especially when he comes over to explain the specials. The waiter will have to talk them through the specials over and over until he’s actually screaming at them.
- The menu, although written in English, will be like a foreign language. Nothing on it can be understood.
- They won’t use the napkins.
- They won’t twirl their pasta but instead will hack it up with a knife.
- If the restaurant has tomato sauce it will be poured over everything.
- They won’t pass anything to you. If they use the salt and pepper they will put them back right in front of their own plates instead of passing them to the next person.
- And eating in a share-plate restaurant is the ultimate no-no. When the food is on the table it’s, ‘Charlie have you had this? What’s in this? That’s not spicy is it?’ ‘I don’t eat spice’. ‘Is this the chicken or the beef?’ ‘What do you call this then?’ ‘What’s this stuff?’ ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be having any of that. That’s bad for my prostate. Have you had your prostate checked Carl?’ ‘Who hasn’t had any of this?’ ‘Has everyone had this?’ ‘Is this all for me then?’ ‘Oh that’s too much for me. Who wants half? Does anyone want half of this? What is it? Does anyone know what it is? I think it’s the chicken. There’s a bit there. Who wants some?’ And that will go on for the entire meal and you will sit there visualising a homicide.
- They won’t ask for the dessert menu, they’ll ask the waiter, ‘What’s for sweets?’
- Carl will pay. For everyone.
And on your way home you’ll realise you consumed more calories in alcohol than you did in food.
What’s your dining experience like with your In-Laws?
Here is a Thai dish that would typically be shared at a Thai Restaurant.
Lemongrass Spiced Pork with Cloud Ear Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots:
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5 because there are some knife skills involved.
Cost: A well-priced family meal
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom half and outer leaves removes
- good pinch of salt
- 1 tbspn ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbspn sweet soy sauce
- 2 tbspns vegetable oil
- 1 small brown onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup dried cloud ear mushrooms, soaked, rinsed and sliced
- 1/2 cup bamboo shoots, rinsed
- 1 tbspn thin soy sauce
- 2 tbspns fish sauce
- 1 tbspn rice or coconut vinegar
- 1-2 tspns light palm sugar
- 2 green spring onions, including some of the green top, thinly sliced
- handful of coriander leaves for garnish
Pound the lemongrass with a pestle so it splits. If it doesn’t you may need to remove another layer or so. Be ruthless as you only want the very tender inner core. Now slice the lemongrass as finely as your knife skills allow. Add the lemongrass, salt, ginger and garlic into a mortar and pound to a paste.
Put the pork in a bowl with the sweet soy sauce and paste, then mix well to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Heat oil in a wok to high, add the onion and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add the pork and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the button and cloud ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots and keep stir-frying for another minute or so. Now add the soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar and palm sugar. Keep cooking, constantly stir-frying until the sauces have combined and the pork has cooked. Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle with green spring onions and coriander.