Saturday, February 27, 2010
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (Tables)
As a true-blood college student, when I hear the phrase ‘free food’, my ears immediately perk up. So when our group arrived in Granada last weekend, and the guidebook recommended a restaurant where free paella was served with a drink, we headed straight there. Reputedly the oldest bar in Granada, it was no surprise to us why it had stuck around so long. When we arrived, the restaurant was the typical Spanish ‘bodega’—packed full with people, the majority standing with plates in hand, waiters yelling in rapid Spanish, people throwing their money behind the bar, and just general madness. But amidst all the chaos, it was clear the diners were enjoying their food and their atmosphere.
Once we finally managed to squeeze ourselves up to the bar, we ordered our paella, served with small baskets of bread. A group of friends came in after us and asked me for extra bread, so I asked the waiter to exchange my small basket for a bigger one. Hearing my request, our 40-year old bartender did a double-take, and said, “Más pan? Eres gordita!” (More bread? You are a little fat one!) clearly not realizing I was not planning on eating the whole bread basket myself. Though I tried to explain it was not for me, he chose to continue believing I would be eating the whole basket alone. A few minutes later he returned to ask me if I had a boyfriend. Clearly, he was into the little fat ones.
As I shouted across the bar, “You are way too old for me!” I realized I had used the wrong form of old—the kind that you should never use with anyone under 60. I worried about this for about 10 seconds before Haley reminded me that I was worrying about offending a man who had just called me fat. He attempted to assure me he was only 22, and then shouted something I could not quite make out. I have this problem here in Spain that when I don’t understand something, I just kind of nod my head along as to say ‘mmhmm.’ My friend whipped around next to me and informed me, “You just told him you believe in love at first sight!” That was news to me.
Our exchanges continued for the next hour or so. I watched as he gave an older couple a bread basket that was twice the size of mine, and demanded to know why he hadn’t called them fat as well. Because they are ACTUALLY fat, he reassured me. You, are not. Thank you, Mr. 40-year old waiter, you are too kind.
But the lunch was not quite complete. Egged on by the rest of my group, I told the waiter I’d like to take a picture with him. The deal was, a picture with one kiss on the cheek = 5 euros for Gayle. Instead of reaching across the bar like I thought we might do though, he kindly invited me to come around the other side of the 40-foot bar. As I squeezed my way through the hoards of people and got behind the bar, I assured the other confused looking bartenders that I had a ‘friend’ back there. I made it to my man, and cameras ready, I gave him the promised big old kiss on the cheek. The restaurant exploded into cheers—the fat little American girl had kissed the bartender…YAY! The aftermath, indicated by the picture above, was filled with one bright red face, and the quickest restaurant escape I’ve ever had. The conclusion—I actually don’t believe in love at first sight, but love at first bite? With free paella, anything is possible.