Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Little Extras

 id=Bratislava is an à la carte city. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a bit bizarre. And at the very moment when I experienced this culinary epiphany, I stopped and checked myself: perhaps my reaction to Bratislava's à la carte-ism was tempered by Spain's ubiquitous menú del días until I remembered that not once in 12 months did I actually avail myself of one of Spain's ubiquitous menú del días.

Which brings me back to my original conclusion that Bratislava is an à la carte city and that although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is a bit bizarre.

So with this in mind, when first setting foot outside the relative security of your own kitchen you must do so with the certain knowledge that you cannot take anything - anything - for granted. Order a chicken dinner and you'll get a chicken. Hoping for potatoes and possibly even some veg on the side? Did you order them? Had your heart set on dressing for your salad? Did you order it? (And, for that matter, do you know for a fact that you're actually getting a salad?)

We were introduced to the city's à la carte-ism on our first morning in Bratislava when Pán Kocúr took the liberty of ordering two coffees at a fairly run-of-the-mill café. Two coffees which were brought to our table by a cheerless waitress but without the company of any sort of dairy product. We quickly and quite sensitively brought this glaring oversight to the attention of our cheerless waitress who returned shortly with two Barbie-size creamers - along with a separate check for them. Yes, the cream was extra.

This is what I find particularly bizarre about Bratislava's à la carte-ism. Indeed, it's fair to say that it riles me that I have to pay extra for coffee cream. To be fair, sugar - 10 mg. to be precise as it is plainly stated on all of the city's menus - is included in the price of a coffee. Which leads me to believe that dairy-philes like myself are not only targeted but grossly discriminated against by Bratislava's restaurant industry.

But it doesn't stop there. Anything that smacks of being a condiment or even has pretensions of being a condiment costs extra - anywhere from 9 crowns (
.30) on up up upwards. Ketchup, salad dressing, mustard, honey for your tea, sour cream for your potato pancakes - everything is extra. The price for a sachet of tartar sauce for your fish costs more than a bus ride across town. So if it's a sauce or you can squeeze it, you pay for it. Hot sauces cost more than cold sauces. If someone here figures out how to microwave ketchup packages, his or her place in heaven will be assured.

And where will it stop? And what will be next? - salt? pepper? ice cubes? I mean, this is Bratislava: if you have to pay the equivalent of
1 for a dollop of sour cream for your potato pancakes, then clearly nothing is sacred.

1 comment:

Frisco said...

Clearly, our grocery list is only beginning - 'ask and it shall be given'- if Italy has it, we will bring it on our first trip. Hell, most of the stuff we have is yours anyway! Does Grey Bear need pate?