Every tourist in France has been, one time or another, snooted by the famously snooty restaurant waiters or attendants in France. I came across this delightful comic called ‘Raymond Calbuth’ and I just had to have this particular strip put up of Monsieur Raymond Calbuth, a retired man in his late 50’s, never stepped a foot out of his country or even neighborhood, but who has the wildest imagination for adventure. Even stepping into Mc Donalds is a mysterious gastronomic adventure for him.
The thing what tickled me most was the stoic face of the Mc Donald server. Of course, M. Calbuth does make a silly impression of himself while ordering for burgers and fries, but the stoic face of the waiter carries the expression of one who’s seen it all and nothing can faze him. Really hilarious! I will translate each strip out to expose what M Calbuth has to say..
M Calbuth orders what he wants to the waiter : ‘Well, boy, I’ve consulted the menu. So, for entrée, I would like a cheese hambourgeois (many senior French have difficulty pronouncing hamburger), followed by a grand Mc bourgeois, drenched well in the Sauce Ketchup.
‘As garnish, I would like match-stick potatoes, then a milk shake flavoured with strawberry. What would you recommend as accompaniment to the meats? Ok, a good quality of this fizzy black drink… which I would like to have a taste of first. ‘ (he’s ordering coca cola)
‘ Hmm, Well, it doesn’t have a certain taste.. Is it of the year 1987? A good year for the Coca. It thrills the palate, is lively, …’ (He goes on into a lively description of the coke as though it’s a wine of a quality year).
Living in France for a while, I’ve come to understand that as much as the French love their own food, and particularly look down upon American junk food, they go weak-kneed for hamburgers. (Remember Inspector Cluseau from the Pink Panther?) Mac Donalds are found in surprising plentifuls all over the country, even in remote villages. And almost every Mc Donalds is almost always crowded, something that one couldn’t say for all others French restaurants.
Speaking of French customer service, here’s another delightful excerpt I found in an excellent book called ‘Merde Actually’ written by Stephen Clarke.
‘French waiters are professionals, I realized, and too many of their customers are so damn amateurish.
For a professional waiter, dealing with amateur customers is like a tennis pro who never gets the ball knocked back to him. Of course he could content himself serving ace after ace, but where’s the fun in that? Good waiters enjoy the game, they like an opponent with style.
They send over a brisk request to order, the customer returns with a crisply hit choice from the menu, the waiter meets it at the net and crashes in a volley about wine, which the client can only lob back in the form of a plea for advice. The waiter smashes home the vin du mois and the point is won. There are similarly tight exchanges about dessert and coffee and everyone gets a good workout.
But what if a customer doesn’t even understand the whole concept of the serve? What is this round, bouncy thing that is being hit towards me, the tennis virgin wonders, and what should I do with it? It’s no wonder the waiters occasionally get frustrated and overcharge amateurs for wasting their time.
Hang on a minute, I thought, what’s going on here? Someone get me a mirror. i think I’m mutating into a French waiter!’