I used to really worry about doing things “right”. That is, I used to worry about doing things in a way that would show me to be urbane and cosmopolitan. If I read a list of 10 Things NOT to do When in Paris, I would memorize it just in case I found myself in some little cafe there. I never wanted anyone to think I was a tourist. This is why I did not wear sneakers to Europe. Three days in to my tour, I wished I had worn sneakers. I may not have looked like a tourist, but my toes were bleeding, and that’s gross.
I read this list of things NOT to do in Italy, and one of those things was order coffee after noon. I saw the same thing on one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows, talking about how only the gross tourists order coffee in the daytime or evening. Ten years ago, I would have dog-eared this information, along with the proper pasta twirling technique. At this point in my life I say, and it is best said in a French accent because that makes everything sound snootier, “Fie on your lists. If I want coffee at 5pm, I will order coffee at 5pm, and if you think I am a gross tourist, you can go hmph yourself. I’m the one paying you, not the other way around. You do it my way.”
This is proof positive that I am a nasty American, I suppose.
I also don’t get having to forgo ketchup or steak sauce if you want it, or soy sauce in a sushi restaurant just because the chef thinks his meal is perfect as it is served. Again, if I am paying for it, I want to eat it the way I like it. I want my salmon well done. I want my tuna well done. I want my A1 on the side of my steak. If this makes me a Philistine, well, I am happy to wear the robe because it fits. In fact, give me two robes because I will probably order the wrong wine as well. Actually, I will probably order a Coca-Cola. And I want a straw.
It is ridiculous to me to hear of chefs who won’t serve their guests because their guests’ palates aren’t up to the chef’s standards. It is just as ridiculous to me that some designers won’t cut more generous sizes because, gasp! fat people might want to wear them!
It’s all faux elitism. “If I don’t follow these silly, arbitrary rules that exclude people who aren’t in on the secret handshake, how will the people who aren’t in on the secret handshake know they are missing anything? And if the riff-raff don’t know they are missing something, how can I enjoy lording it above them? Look at this cake you can’t have, you Poor! Now, have some cake! Hahahaha! You can’t! Nom nom nom!”
Whatever. I can cook my own steak, and it tastes just as good. And I can have my coffee without getting side-eye from twit who thinks there is something wrong with being a tourist.