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Old 29.03.2011, 12:30
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Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

Good morning,

Technically, it's not about Switzerland, but since Annemasse is very close to Geneva, so I figured that it'd be appropriate place to post.

We were having a good time in a seafood restaurant "Taverne something" in Annemasse with friends. Had a trouble for a few minutes ordering, since there were no English menu available. Waiter spoke some English, but couldn't explain every dish. I ordered a complete surprise dish for myself (turned out to be an assortment of cooked seafood along with some cabbage and potatoes). Anyway, there was a family of Americans sitting at a table behind us. Father, teenage son and two daughters perhaps.

Where it gets interesting is when waiter took their order and some time later bring 3 dishes with tartar (which resembles raw hamburger meat - I've never had it and only knew about it because my friend had issue in Canada with this dish). So he brings and puts plates and I can see the boy's eyes rolling - like "WTF, did you bring to me". Then they huddle and think that maybe meat was brought to be shown to them, then they call waiter, and the boy asks him to cook it. So the waiter (nice guy), starts mixing meat, raw egg, and whatever other ingredients there are.

So he brings those 3 dishes "cooked" (mixed) and the guy says - "That's not what we ordered - it's not a steak" - "Please cook it - Well Done". So the waiter is now rolling his eyes, brings it to kitchen and 10-15 minutes later brings cooked tartar. They looked at it and were like, "Well - it's not cooked enough" - so manager gets involved and just brings stuff back to kitchen (never brought it back before we left - I think they just returned it - not sure if they had to pay for it or not, since we left first). I had a good laugh with waiter, when before leaving I asked him to have my tartar to go well done - he said he's never had anyone asking him for tartar to be well done.

Here's what ensured the situation:
- The dish was called Steak Tartar (Steak!)
- Waiters and manager seemed to be really upset about the situation,
- American family didn't feel comfortable and probably felt humiliated - good for them they kept composure (people around including ourselves laughed - I felt bad, but I couldn't hold it)
- Restaurant didn't have menu in English - ok - you probably won't find menu in French in Texas - but maybe waiter should have clarified the selection since he saw they were foreign
- This is how stereotypes are born about ignorant Americans

Who do you think is right in this situation and how can this be avoided?
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:35
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

I was in a very fancy restaurant on Lake Como with my aunt and uncle a few years ago and my aunt ordred the fish tartar for starter, I thought wow she's brave (assumed she knew what it was) her face was a picture when it arrived, she thought it was going to be fish with tartar sauce
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:43
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

Are you serious? How do you imagine that the restaurant staff could be possibly in the wrong here? The waiter, manager, and cooking staff all bent over backwards to try to accommodate these American visitors.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:43
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

I don't think you can say there is right/wrong in a situation where different cultures meet. Why should all local menus be in English and why should American tourists expect food being prepared the way they know from home. Good for them venturing out of good ol' US of A, but honestly, it takes a bit more than just hop on a plane. Like, getting educated about where they are going, what people are like, etc. The standard I would expect from "worldly" yanks one can find walking around Annemasse, would be actually asking what the food is like before they order. If they do not want surprises, stick to the damn french fries or cheese.. I also think if people do not want to learn English and work in tourism/resto industry in a tourist place like Annemasse, they will always get some troubles and peeved off customers, but that's their risk.

Annemasse is beautiful, by the way, a nice reminder to hop over there...
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:44
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

Poor guys, but you can't order an item from a menu you don't understand and then accuse the restaurant of getting it wrong.

Phrasebooks should be compuslory in such situations.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:45
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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Good morning,

Technically, it's not about Switzerland, but since Annemasse is very close to Geneva, so I figured that it'd be appropriate place to post.

We were having a good time in a seafood restaurant "Taverne something" in Annemasse with friends. Had a trouble for a few minutes ordering, since there were no English menu available. Waiter spoke some English, but couldn't explain every dish. I ordered a complete surprise dish for myself (turned out to be an assortment of cooked seafood along with some cabbage and potatoes). Anyway, there was a family of Americans sitting at a table behind us. Father, teenage son and two daughters perhaps.

Where it gets interesting is when waiter took their order and some time later bring 3 dishes with tartar (which resembles raw hamburger meat - I've never had it and only knew about it because my friend had issue in Canada with this dish). So he brings and puts plates and I can see the boy's eyes rolling - like "WTF, did you bring to me". Then they huddle and think that maybe meat was brought to be shown to them, then they call waiter, and the boy asks him to cook it. So the waiter (nice guy), starts mixing meat, raw egg, and whatever other ingredients there are.

So he brings those 3 dishes "cooked" (mixed) and the guy says - "That's not what we ordered - it's not a steak" - "Please cook it - Well Done". So the waiter is now rolling his eyes, brings it to kitchen and 10-15 minutes later brings cooked tartar. They looked at it and were like, "Well - it's not cooked enough" - so manager gets involved and just brings stuff back to kitchen (never brought it back before we left - I think they just returned it - not sure if they had to pay for it or not, since we left first). I had a good laugh with waiter, when before leaving I asked him to have my tartar to go well done - he said he's never had anyone asking him for tartar to be well done.

Here's what ensured the situation:
- The dish was called Steak Tartar (Steak!)
- Waiters and manager seemed to be really upset about the situation,
- American family didn't feel comfortable and probably felt humiliated - good for them they kept composure (people around including ourselves laughed - I felt bad, but I couldn't hold it)
- Restaurant didn't have menu in English - ok - you probably won't find menu in French in Texas - but maybe waiter should have clarified the selection since he saw they were foreign
- This is how stereotypes are born about ignorant Americans

Who do you think is right in this situation and how can this be avoided?
It actually happens a lot RG. When anglophiles go to a restaurant and the menu is incomprehensible, they bet on steak as its the only thing they recognize. The waiter surely knew by then they didnt understand anything as they must have ordered in english. They have no right to complain because they got what they ordered but the waiter was perhaps being obtuse and in any case he didnt do the manager or owner any favours as 1) they won`t return and b) they presumably didn`t order anything else.
When he brought it to the table, he must have known by then that it wasnt what they wanted and he could have easily saved the day, by cooking the tartare instead of mixing it. So noone wins in that situation.
Incidentally, they were being brave eating tartare in a restaurant in Annemasse......... (i once noticed a restaurant around there taking normal burgers out of the freezer and using them for tartare)
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:45
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

Don't think anyone was "right" or "wrong", maybe the waiter could have said "would you just like a normal steak" and just taken the tartar away... or the family could have realised they'd ordered the wrong thing, and just tried the tartar, and maybe discovered that they actually really like it...

You also get Steak Tartar on the menu in English restaurants and it means exactly the same there - I'd have to imagine in America it's the same (?) but maybe they just saw the one word in English that they recognised and made an assumption about what they'd be getting.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:50
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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Don't think anyone was "right" or "wrong", maybe the waiter could have said "would you just like a normal steak" and just taken the tartar away... or the family could have realised they'd ordered the wrong thing, and just tried the tartar, and maybe discovered that they actually really like it...

You also get Steak Tartar on the menu in English restaurants and it means exactly the same there - I'd have to imagine in America it's the same (?) but maybe they just saw the one word in English that they recognised and made an assumption about what they'd be getting.
NO ONE eats steak tartar in the US. You might be able to find it at
a French restaurant.


What would you say about a Swiss person that thought Root Beer was
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guys ordered a round of Root Beer and were quite upset to find it
is a Soft Drink.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:51
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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- This is how stereotypes are born about ignorant Americans

Who do you think is right in this situation and how can this be avoided?
This could have happened to anyone who didn't understand French, not just Americans.

This is what I would have done. Rather than just watching and laughing, I would have helped the poor family by translating the misunderstanding to the waiter. The American family would then accept the mistake, order instead steak entrecôtes. They would have been spared the humiliation and had a nice meal and the waiter/manager would have been happy that a new customer learned something about French cuisine.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:52
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

I think what grumpygit said might actually be a warning to all who want to get some customer service done in that area.."obtuse waiter" might be just about right. I don't mean to blame, actually think the American client is a tad arrogant for not adjusting a slight bit to France and the way things are done there..

But if you go to a tiny nearby French place like Yvoire, that literally only survives during a few warm months on tourism, you will find how well French can speak English and how well they adapt and help. Annemasse (or St. Tropez, same thing) is so saturated with tourists pouring in, there is no push to learn English or be helpful. Not all business are this way, sure, and we speak French so can't tell anymore, but the attitude one used to get was funny..
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:52
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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Are you serious? How do you imagine that the restaurant staff could be possibly in the wrong here? The waiter, manager, and cooking staff all bent over backwards to try to accommodate these American visitors.
They had no English menu in a tourist area. It might save a bit
of confusion. Chamonix has English menus.
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:27
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

Why should the waiter assume that the customer knows nothing? Perhaps later he should have realised that they had mis-ordered and sorted it out to avoid their embarrassment.

However, he could probably tell that they weren't locals and so not repeat-business and so it was probably not worth the bother.

Personally, I hate going into a restaurant and being treated as an idiot. If I don't know, I'll always ask (this sometimes means being taken into the kitchen to confirm when language is a real problem).

At other times when the menu is in cyrillic or something, it's fun to chose blindly.

A few years ago in the U.K., when asking for a espresso, I invariably got asked whether I really wanted one and did I realise it was quite a small amount of coffee.
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:35
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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NO ONE eats steak tartar in the US.
Many people eat it in fact. My father loves it. Being a vegetarian, I don't often order it myself, but it certainly appears on menus in the States. (You can even run searches on it to find restaurants that serve it in your area: http://business.intuit.com/boorah-re...k-tartare.html.

This is not a question of language as the dish has the same name in English, but that this family didn't know what it is, in English or in French. It sounds to me like the waiter did his best. It may have been better to have explained what steak tartare is when they were so obviously shocked, then the family could have ordered something else. I feel a bit sorry for everyone involved.
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:50
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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Many people eat it in fact. My father loves it. Being a vegetarian, I don't often order it myself, but it certainly appears on menus in the States. (You can even run searches on it to find restaurants that serve it in your area: http://business.intuit.com/boorah-re...k-tartare.html.

This is not a question of language as the dish has the same name in English, but that this family didn't know what it is, in English or in French. It sounds to me like the waiter did his best. It may have been better to have explained what steak tartare is when they were so obviously shocked, then the family could have ordered something else. I feel a bit sorry for everyone involved.
Maybe SOME people eat it, but I would say that 99% of the people
do not.

Personally, I find it disgusting. What if the meat has some kind
of disease that cooking normally removes?
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:54
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

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Maybe SOME people eat it, but I would say that 99% of the people
do not.

Personally, I find it disgusting. What if the meat has some kind
of disease that cooking normally removes?
I am with you on this one, but you would be surprised what people eat...raw..



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Old 29.03.2011, 14:02
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

Can't blame the people within earshot of the family for laughing. I'm usually pretty well controlled in situations but I think I would have had a good chuckle at someone ordering "Steak Tartar well done".

That's a classic - may an urban myth start forthwith!
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Old 29.03.2011, 14:03
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

> Who do you think is right in this situation
-----------
Well, if every one was sincere and committed that everything goes fine (even though it did not go fine), who can be blamed?

If the American man would have tried to translate with a dictionnary in the pocket, he would not have easily deciphered "steak tartare". Of course, he could have chosen different dishes, in order not to put all eggs in the same basket... But hey, I would congratulate him for having choosen bravely to take his kids to a French restaurant (without knowing French) rather than to Mc Donalds

> and how can this be avoided?
-----------
It has to happen, it's important that this kind of thing happen, because it's nice to be reminded here and now that there are real cultures differences in the world. We don't know everything in the world where we live, we always have new things to learn, and we can't do everything perfect every time.

The man and kids got the lesson, and the waiters got one too. They'll all have a laugh about it, especially if they realize that they are wiser after this incident. They all will be able to avoid this embarrassing situation in the future.

It reminds me someone I know, who ordered randomly a dish in a restaurant some 20 years ago (not knowing the language), and who got a BRAIN in the plate, something like that : http://recettessimples.fr/news/cerve...neau-au-beurre

/Paul
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Old 29.03.2011, 14:05
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

That was me and my family. And, to top it off, we ordered it as an entree and they served it as an appetizer. Goddammfrench!
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Old 29.03.2011, 14:09
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That was me and my family. And, to top it off, we ordered it as an entree and they served it as an appetizer. Goddammfrench!
Oh man, this thread is getting better and better! More please...
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Old 29.03.2011, 14:12
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Re: Episode from Annemasse (who is right?)

I average about one steak tartar meal per week - it's one of my favourite foods. The incident is unfortunate. If I had a restaurant and a group of Americans came in and ordered anything other than cheeseburgers and fries I'd be at pains to explain to them what each thing was. Even the cheeseburger, I'd walk them through the fact that this isn't plasticised American cheese. Unfortunately, Americans aren't often well travelled and often can't conceive of cultural differences.
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