Croatian Waiters- You’re Doing It Right
Croatia seems to have an infinite supply of side-of-the-road restaurants. “Right or left?” El asked me on our drive away from the beach. I said left, and that’s how we picked where to have dinner.
Someone got it into their mind to order steak tartare. Our waiter, a terribly smily man in gold jewelry whom Eleanor says she can tell “drinks a lot” kind of grimaced at the order.
"Well, the kitchen…um…I’ll have to put in an order. It might take a while."
"OK! No problem!" we said and sipped our delicious, inexpensive wine. A few minutes later he showed up wheeling an enormous metal cart. On its surface was a mixing bowl and a silver tray supporting a pretty mound of raw beef surrounded by no less than twelve tiny bowls of various ingredients: spices, mustard, chives, pastes, tabasco, pepper, vinegar, etc. etc. He cracked an egg into the bowl, whisked up the mustard with a thin strand of olive oil ("made here, in the restaurant!") and proceeded to prepare the entire fifty pounds of steak tartare in front of us. We sat there for five minutes as this guy delicately moved each individual ingredient from its tiny bowl, with the tiny silver spoon, into the big bowl, with the bigger silver spoon. One at a freaking time. Our platters were decorated with various shapes made out of cayenne pepper. I had a star. Pipo had an electric guitar. We think Eleanor’s was either a seahorse, or a magic crystal. Once our tartare was done, we put this cayenne onto the meat mound, spread it on warm toast with butter, and ate it in front of him.
Now, this is Italy (close enough), so of course we ordered sorbetto as a digestif. Our faithful, alcoholic waiter made the same grimace when we called him over.
"Yyyyeah, we can do that for you," and rushed off. Then it got really nice because, at one point, we looked over and spied him through the kitchen window pulling a MagiMix out of its cardboard box. The guy was going to our three lemon sorbettos from scratch! If that wasn’t enough, all the while he was dancing around and laughing and tasting his creation with the other servers.
"Wow. It looks like they’re having a lot of fun in there," I said.
"I don’t think either of those things were actually on the menu" Eleanor said.
"Either this will cost us our underwear, or be really cheap" Pipo said. All three of us were right. It was 22 euros per person, which cemented in my mind that there’s no one I’d rather go on a day trip with than my sister.