Thursday, September 30, 2010
Following the Linguine Trail…
The cat scooted out over the restaurant’s window trellis, skirting the purple bougainvillea that gripped the iron work. Totally deaf, it wasn’t an alley cat for nothing and could tell when it wasn’t wanted. Daniele the waiter, having dealt with the cat before, let out a few mild expletives under his breathe in Italian. Slinking amongst the tables, the white gatto been attracting admiring ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the American tourists but alas, no food tidbits. Then as Daniele proceeded to lead our party of six to a table chatting amicably, my husband pointed out a waiter, J., that I hadn’t met yet, knowing that he was from Australia like myself.
J. turned out to be waiting at our table. Decked out maitre d’ style with a formally placed napkin over his left arm, J. had been coming to Positano for a few years and lived the enviable life of six months here, six months in Australia. Having a British passport, he had no trouble with work permits and aside from other duties in town, he helped out at the restaurant in summer a couple of days per week.
My husband asked him if he spoke Italian assuming that with the position he was in, he must.
‘Solo un poco’ (just a little) was his answer. So I spoke to him in English and we chose our meal. The orders were put in quickly as most of my family chose pizza, but I soon put a ball in the works by ordering ‘Frittura di Paranza’.
J. looked at me blankly and asked me to repeat it. I did and then gave him the English translation for it – ‘Fried local fish’.
‘Is it on the menu?’ he queried.
‘Yes’, I said.
‘Can you point to it with your finger please? I don’t know how to write it.’ It’s just that people usually order pasta or pizza here…so I’ve never come across it before.’
He then accompanied a loud party of Italian tourists to their table alongside ours and distributed menus.
My husband, all ears when it comes to nosing out an authentic local meal, overheard the chef Vincenzo talking about a dish he was preparing from freshly arrived local squid. ‘Vincenzo,’ he called out, ‘can you make it for me too?’
‘Senz’altro’ replied Vincenzo.
So I called J. over and told him that we needed to change the order. One pizza less, and ‘totani and tubetti’ in it’s place.
‘Is it on the menu?’
‘No, but the chef can prepare it’.
‘Ok, then. What is it again?
‘Totani e tubetti’
‘Could you spell that please?’
‘T-O-T-A-N-I & T-U-B-E-T-T-I’
Later, while eating our meal, I saw J. at the Italian’s table trying to take orders and looking decidedly red- faced and flustered. He suddenly turned away from them and found Daniele to serve in his place.
I remarked on it when he returned to our table to have the dessert orders put through and the simpatico J. admitted that in August they had a lot of Italians come in for meals who never stuck to the menu but wanted variations of the food.
‘Then they all talk at once in Italian and I can’t follow the orders!’
Aspiring waiters be warned.
Il Saraceno d’Oro: a family run restaurant in Fornillo.
No ‘sea view’ but plenty of friendly atmosphere and great food. Speaking English can be a bonus…