The Overheard Thread

“Is the rice gluten free?” at Teni East, Oakland CA

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I worked in natural foods when the gluten- free concerns skyrocketed. Since there is a thing called glutinous rice people would see packs of it and think that rice had gluten. Unfortunately the world is quick with panic and slow on actual education and research. But that may be where that query stems from.


I wasn’t paying attention to the original order but overheard at a Waffle House recently when the guy behind us sent back his three fried eggs because they were cooked together in the same pan. “I specifically asked for three eggs over easy cooked separately”… he was nice about it. They apologized and got three pans going.

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I’ve heard of people not liking their food touching but thought that applied to different foods, not three of the same item! Or maybe he likes the crispy edges?


There was a coffee shop I used to go to on the way to work. It was getting more and more pretentious, with slower and slower service. One day when I had been waiting in line for longer than usual, I heard the cashier tell a customer “strong jammy notes, lots of plum and cherry”.

I left.


The crispy edges has a certain odd logic. Or maybe he likes one egg over each slice of toast or something. At least the cost in time/ingredients to replace is fairly minimal. But you would think he would have found a clearer way to convey this. It is so unusual I don’t think many short order cooks, especially if it is busy, would catch the customers intent. Obviously the server didn’t!

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You might have overheard my mother with her standard: “Is the shrimp fra-diavolo spicy” ?

me: {{facepalm}} Mom, for the love of God the name means “Of the Devil” it’s the actual definition of HOT.

Mom: “Well can I get the fra-diavolo not spicy?”

me: “Mom just order the shrimp marinara!”

Mom: “That’s not what I want!! I want the shrimp fra-diavolo NOT spicy”

Server: ((sigh)) " Ok one shrimp marinara" !!!

(we honestly had this exchange a 100x’s in her life. RIP Mom love ya!!!)


Oh yeah! Overheard at Sam’s Sushi in Ballard, Seattle: the waiter trying to explain to the incredulous sushi chef “They want the spicy tuna roll, but not spicy.”

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Not “overheard” but incredulously heard whenever I meet a longtime friend for lunch. She always asks if they have “good” coffee. WTF?

Understood. Like in Rome.

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An American of a certain age, after cooing to the waiter that she just knew that their fabulous chef would whip up something wonderful and vegetarian for her, receives her plate and says to her companion, “Why, it’s exactly like yours but without the meat!”

This thread isn’t long enough for me to repeat her almost continuous stream of fatuous observations.


Thank you - that was the best laugh I’ve had in a while!

This fool prattled on throughout a 5 course meal, Very near the end, she indicated that there was something she didn’t understand. (We were in Paris.) I excused myself and explained it to her, She reared back and said, “Oh my, all this time we thought you were French.” Exasperated by then since she really had taken a toll on our enjoyment, I smiled and responded, 'No, we just keep our voices down,"


Diner: Bourbon Old Fashioned, on the rocks.
VERY Young Waiter: Would you like ice?
Diner: No, pebbles.


And here I thought I knew all the ridiculous people. Semi-vegetarian friend visiting me from MA, at fancy new restaurant in nyc, revealing that she is on a “medical” cleanse - I discover later that this was not prescribed to her by a doctor, rather she was copycatting the eating philosophy of a cancer survivor friend (who, as it turned out, was also at this dinner).

Friend to (frazzled - busy new restaurant) waitress: I’m vegetarian, but I also can’t eat X, Y, Z, A, B, C. Can you request the chef to whip up something wonderful and vegetarian {big fake smile to “endear” herself}

Waitress (hope she was an actress irl… great performance of tolerance): Ma’am we have extensive vegetarian options in each section, I can walk you through them and if there’s something you need eliminated I can do that.

Friend: Mmm… no, I’m sure the wonderful chef can whip up something wonderful and vegetarian - just ask him to include (list of ingredients she wants to eat) and leave out (list of ingredients on her “cleanse”)

Waitress (patience strained, but very polite): Ma’am unfortunately we can’t do that. But why don’t I suggest some dishes that you might enjoy, and we can leave out any ingredients that you need to.

Friend (sad face, trying to plead, about to talk): But…

Me (lost patience, 6 of us at the table, it’s10 long minutes later): Thank you (to waitress).
(To friend) Here are all the vegetarian dishes that fit your constrains if you leave out the soy and the dairy - they sound great, why don’t you choose a couple.
(Back to waitress) Thanks for your patience with us. While she decides, this is what I’d like. What about the rest of you?

After the waitress walks away, friend grumbles about service, how they should be accommodating, how in Asia they would bend over backwards, etc. I had completely lost patience by then, and told her that the waitress had been a saint, that it’s unreasonable to ignore an entire menu that already caters to food constraints, and “in Asia” they might pander to irrational requests, but it doesn’t make the requests any more rational, and also that it behooves us to have some empathy for the wait staff.

Meanwhile, cancer survivor friend (whose actual constraints these were) picked two things off the regular menu, asked the server to leave off the offending items, and enjoyed her meal thoroughly.

Oh yeah, this started over drinks by the bar - “I’m sure the wonderful bartender will whip me up some no-sugar no-XYZ no-ABC drink that fits my diet.” Waitress looked at her, then looked at me, and suggested vodka soda. “No, something special… I’m sure he can whip up something interesting.”


I’ve always felt that everyone should be required to spend some time working as a server, housekeeping, landscaping and a tourist t-shirt shop in the busy season or mall retail during Christmas season. They would become much better bosses and less entitled customers in the future.


This particular behavior really got on my last nerve. NYC is full of demanding / difficult customers. I’m sure I am / have been one too.

But the treat-me-like-royalty affectation is a carryover from their years living in Asia as expats with money, and is something I just can’t abide.

On a lighter note, it was actually pretty hilarious. The serverS and I kept exchanging understanding (“This is ridiculous right? Right!) glances :joy:

I will say that my mom, who is completely vegetarian, and has occasionally had to request a vegetable plate at fancy restaurants with zero vegetarian options, does a very gracious version of “if you could request the chef to make me a vegetable plate in his style, I’m sure I will enjoy it.”


I’ve worked retail many years and it’s not just Christmas but 365 days a year.


That’s insane. I hope she has other redeeming qualities. Because these would probably disqualify her from further outings in my book.


She’s a family friend, not a personal friend, but it has certainly influenced my interactions since. Doubt she’s noticed.