Ask Your Waiter - Even If the Answer Is Fried Octopus

Always go with the enthusiastic waiter’s recommendations, especially the ones who are honest enough to say “don’t bother with that one.” 

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I tend to pepper waiters with lots of questions about the menu, trying to ascertain the true meaning of their word choice and facial expressions. After all, I may only have one shot to eat at the restaurant. I want to get it right.

Case in point, the fried octopus at Asia de Cuba in West Hollywood. I wouldn’t have tried it without the waiter’s prodding, but I’m so thankful I did. 

Another memorable dish came from the advice of our gracious waiter at a restaurant overlooking the shore of Positano, Italy. Of course, in that postcard-perfect setting, they could have served beach rocks in my soup and I wouldn’t have complained. Instead, I had my first taste of spaghetti alla puttanesca.

Asking for recommendations is the ultimate icebreaker for learning more about the people and culture of a place. What better way to get to know someone than through a discussion over food, a universal language.

Next time, take the time to ask. You’ll get more out of it than just a better dish.

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