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…


Lisa at Wanderlust Weddings said...

Ciao bella - che belissimi foto

LindyLouMac said...

Great post. Poor guy, I was surprised that he still struggles with menu Italian unless this is his first season working there. I have to say I like the idea of missing out on winter by heading to Australia, I think that lifestyle would suit me well.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A funny post Scintilla .. How did he manage when it was extra busy ?? Yes I agree with Linda, Not much Italian at all , and he did not know the menu :-) unless as she said his first season.

Thea Ester said...

I found your beautiful blog and became to your new reader. I love Italy! Have been there several times..

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Sounds like his employer need to hgive him some training!

Cobalt Violet said...

I was just in Positano for the first time last May and fell in love with it! So happy to find your blog!

Great post!

Unknown said...

Fantastic photos. The red colour over the arches makes me want to get on my bike and cycle down there immediately. Stunning!

Eleonora Baldwin said...


Chef Chuck said...

Thank you for sharing Scintilla, I will be in that area at the end of Jan, not the best time! This will be my first time in Jan in Italy. I will be attending at the Macef Show in Milan,{Business}, and my lovely wife and I decided to drive down the Amalfi coast to view my Family Church, plus much, much more :)
Thank you
P.S. If your available, let's have lunch, would love to have the pleasure of meeting you.
All the best, Chuck

Rafelia said...

Hi Scintilla, glad to find your blog. will be travelling there this august. Mind sharing the address of this restaurants, and it would be great if you can share some other local restaurants. Thanks

Rosa said...

Hi Rafelia,
Thanks for stopping by. This restaurant is the Saraceno D'Oro in Fornillo. Our favourite moderately priced family restaurant. If you like seafood Il Mediterraneo down the road a bit, is good too or Il Capitano if you want the views with meals.

Rafelia said...

Thank you for the tips, i´ll surely try the Saraceno D'Oro, lots of great reviews from Trip Advisor for this restaurant too.