Mistaken Identity

I’m not one to complain about food that is delivered to my table in a restaurant. I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve had to send back a food item: once when I found a Band-Aid in my meal, and once when I found a tissue in my salad. I don’t remember any others, but I will concede that there have probably been more times that I’ve felt the need to complain. Heaven only knows how much hair I’ve eaten in my 67 years on earth. I just don’t look very hard. If you eat out, you take a risk.

The other night, Bill and I went to a neighborhood Italian restaurant. Bill ordered a sausage cannoli and I ordered linguine with clam sauce. Our server was a young woman whom I hadn’t seen before. She was new to the restaurant, but who isn’t in these days when workers are more and more difficult to find? Perhaps she had been a manicurist prior to this job.

Anyway, a short time later, she came to our table and proudly set this in front of me…..

“Here’s your linguine with clams,” she said proudly, kind of like she had discovered a vaccine for cancer.

I looked at my plate of food for a moment, trying to take in just what it was that she had set before me. It looked very good, but it didn’t look like linguine with clam sauce. The fact that it was covered in shrimp with nary a clam to be seen was my first clue. I’m like a detective. A food detective.

“This isn’t linguine with clam sauce,” I said politely. “I ordered linguine with clam sauce.”

She seemed stunned. But she quickly recovered.

“Yes it is,” she answered cheerfully. “That’s how they serve it at this restaurant.”

I once again looked down at my plate. Maybe there were clams hidden underneath the pasta, and the shrimp were just an added bonus. But no. Sadly, I couldn’t spot a single clam. I suspected this was, in fact, NOT how they serve it in this restaurant. In fact, I was positive, since I have ordered it many times in this very restaurant. Plus, there were no clams.

“Seriously,” I said. “This really isn’t linguine with clam sauce. In fact, it’s not even linguine; it’s spaghetti.”

Deer in the headlights.

“Let me go back to the kitchen and check,” she said, leaving the plate of spaghetti with shrimp at my table.

She came back a few minutes later with the surprising news that it wasn’t linguine with clam sauce.

“I don’t know how that happened,” she said. Neither did I, but I suspected there was another customer nearby looking sadly at what should have been her plate of spaghetti with shrimp, knowing full well she was going to have to wait a while more while the dish was prepared once again, this time for her.

A minute or so later, the waitress appeared once again, this time with this plate…..

Ahhh. A lovely plate of linguine covered with delicious chopped clams and garlic and white wine and olive oil. The smell wafted up to my nose, and I was happy. Happier than the diner who wished she could have her shrimp and spaghetti.

Bill, by the way, got his sausage cannoli without a single hiccup. Always order a sandwich would be his motto.

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