Saturday, March 17, 2012

Food Guideline in France and Italy

Finding a place to eat in France and Italy can turn into culture shock if this is your first visit to Europe. I experienced some culture shock while dining in restaurants in Paris, France and Italy but then, I began to accept their culture. 

When you dine at an overcrowded restaurant in the United States, the restaurant operator will ensure to serve your food in 10-15 minutes, which means you would be able to finish your meals from appetizer, main dishes to dessert in a restaurant in an hour. If the food requires longer time to prepare, the waiter will inform you ahead. Thus, you will be given options to wait for the food or to order other food. As the waiters/waitresses depend on tipping as part of their wages (salaries), they are trained to provide effective and efficient customer service. When the waiters/waitresses are able to satisfy their customers with their services, the customers will eventually tip more to the waiters/waitresses.

Unfortunately, this scenario is totally different in Europe region, especially in France and Italy which are highly visited by tourists. Before making your final decision to dine in the restaurant, it's highly advisable to inquire about the cover charge fee from the restaurant operator. It is a common practice for the restaurant operator to include cover charge fee (based on number of persons) in the receipt. No matter how long you stay in a restaurant, just for a cup of coffee or for your meals, there will be cover charge fee included in the receipt. Please remember that the cover charge fee doesn't consider as tipping for the service. You still need to tip the waiter/waitress between 10%-15%, in cash even though the cover charge fee has been included. 

If you intend to avoid paying cover charge fee, it's recommended to walk around the small alleys and check out restaurants and their pricing, which aren't situated along the main streets or near the tourist attraction areas. These type of restaurants might waive off the cover charge fee to pull more crowds. In order to stay safe, it's best to ask and reconfirm about the cover charge fee before making your final decision.

The customer service in a restaurant in Europe is extremely slow even though the restaurant isn't full and crowded. It is part of their culture to take their sweet time to prepare and serve your meals. I had been to a few restaurants in Paris, France and Italy and experienced the same problem. Believe me! Although we ordered simple meals like spaghetti, the restaurant operator could take about 45 minutes to serve you. At the end, we took at least 1 1/2 hours to finish our simple meals at every restaurant before we could continue our walk. If you want to save your time in order to visit more places, you can have some snacks like, pizza. Pizza isn't considered as a proper meal but it's more like a snack in Europe which is why, you can find many small vendors along the streets, selling pizza and ice-cream.

As when you dine in a restaurant, the waiter/waitress will serve you some bread to be dipped with olive oil while waiting for your dishes. Unfortunately, the bread with olive oil doesn't come free of charge. It's automatically added to your receipt. Whether you like it or not, it's better to finish it when it's served. Besides, water doesn't come free in Europe as well. DO NOT assume that water is free as you are used to enjoy in the United States or some parts of Asia regions. When you ask for water, the waiter/waitress will bring a bottle of branded water which could cost you about 10 Euro per bottle.Thus, it's best to enquire the price first before ordering water, soft drink, liquor and wine in Europe.

The famous icon, Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

1 comment:

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