Sunday, 20 November 2011

Postcards From Venice - Bread Basket Politics

Dear Reader,

I have been away, sampling the delights of Venice, former power player in European trade, now a tourist destination unlike any other. This is a truly magical city, characterised by it's waterways, museums, ancient buildings and absence of cars. It is a wonder to behold. I could go on, but I am not a travel writer and this is not a travel blog.

Anyhoo, myself and the dear lady wife Smiffy were sitting down for dinner. It should be noted that we have not researched this restaurant in advance, we have just stumbled in because it is a little chilly and there maybe something on the menu that doesn’t instantly offend Smiffy's delicate palate.

We are seated and wait for the first bizarre inevitability of Venetian dining, the bread basket. An example, (not taken from our own experience) below.

Lovely, Crunchy Bread
A Typical  Venetian Breadbasket.
The breadbasket is a staple of Italian dining. Served with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar suspension for dipping purposes, lovely. The Venetian version is slightly different. Breadbasket arrives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar are present, however not currently combined. So, a DIY job is required, which would be fine if there was a side plate. There is not. What I was actually presented with is presented below.

This is one of my own pictures, sneakily shot whilst none of the staff or patrons were watching, hence the distortion. My “plate” appears to be adorned by something called a Doily, which I only recognise as a weird object draped across the head of the sofa at my long deceased Grandparents. This is an object so obscure to me I have only with the help of Mr Google learned how to spell it. I was not expecting this object to appear in a restaurant thirty years later. The plate itself (apologies again for the photography) is a round metal disc modelled on a shield perhaps wielded by Venetian warriors in old times. It is (mercifully) flat. I have a quandary, is this a side plate? Am I expected to throw olive oil and balsamic vinegar on this thing to create the perfect bread basket experience?

I and my dear wife take the safe option, which is to munch upon some breadsticks. A helpful tip here, THIS IS NOT A SAFE OPTION! We are in a restaurant where about five tables of couples are happily chatting until we start munching breadsticks. They are hard, really hard. They are also very loud. Conversation seems to slow on the tables around us. The room seems to have some clever acoustic qualities as now all that seems to be audible is the sound of us getting through the first mouthfuls of breadstick. MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH.

There is another problem. Our MUNCHING attracted the attention of some other diners, specifically, the couple on our right side. They are an elderly couple, which presents no problem in itself. They are French, this also is not the problem. The male of the party has turned to look at us. This is a problem but the main problem is far more specific. I don’t know how to put this, but he has a wandering eye. Not the wandering eye of a pervert, no, this is the wandering eye of the mad. I mean mad in the horror sense of the word. Like Professor Frankenstein’s bulging eyed servant, so fittingly rendered by Marty Feldman in the Mel Brookes classic Young Frankenstein. A picture may help.


Have you ever been placed in a restaurant and realised that, on reflection, a different table, or maybe even a different universe was required? This was that day. However, how do you make this happen?
Waiter arriving for drinks:
  • What would you like to order?
  • Oh a different table please. On a different planet from the freak sat next to me, thanks.
This sounds a little harsh, especially as the issue is about a metre away. There is also another worry. Had I gone through with the brave statement above I would be directly behind Igor, as this was the only table available, that was not already occupied. What if, after moving, we settle in our new table, only to find that Igor has a revolving head, a la The Exorcist and swivels through 180 degrees to stare at us again? I cannot handle this much stress.

We stay where we are feeling uncomfortable. Eventually Igor leaves, the dolies are never explained and the food is eatable (ish).

More soon about eatable food. Any assistance regarding the correct use of Venetian breadbaskets would be greatly appreciated.

More soon dear reader xx


  1. Nice message! Prety informative thank you for giving really thank you for sharing.