I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship -Aeschylus.
In last Saturday’s edition of ‘Tastes like home,’ The Scene (April 13), I recounted an eating experience I had at German’s restaurant. While I expected a lot of blows for what I had said, I was (naively so) surprised by the level of some people’s responses, which included accusing me of being anti-government to personal attacks. I was even accused of having something personal against German’s. Let me state clearly, I have nothing personal against German’s. Let me also re-state something I said in my column which if people read clearly, they would understand ‒ I was on a brief visit to Guyana.
The brevity of my visit allowed the opportunity for me to eat out once and I chose the one place I felt sure that would give me the taste of home I was after – German’s Restaurant. It didn’t. I am a columnist. I write about tastes of and like home. A column is an opinion piece and so I wrote about my disappointing experience that day when I went in search of a taste of home.
Clinton Urling’s reaction (‘German’s cooking processes and procedures remain the same,’ Sunday Stabroek, April 14) was understandable, except for the last paragraph. But I am not going to get into that.
All reviews, critiques, observations and evaluations are subjective. It is we human beings who create these ‘rules’ by which we live, work and play.
Let me now put some things out there and leave you the reader to form your own opinion.
When one dines out, whether it is at a fine-dining restaurant, canteen, cafeteria or the shop at the corner, there is a certain expectation when it comes to taste and quality of the food. It is for this precise reason that my sister and I opted to have lunch at German’s that day because we felt that if we wanted something with taste and to get value for our money, then German’s it is. It is for this reason that people only eat at certain places.
When it comes to taste, there is a reason why you opt for a split-pea soup versus an eddo soup. Tell me, is that not so? It is for this reason that you want cowheel soup instead of chicken soup – because it tastes different. The texture and flavour are different. It is only if you don’t know better, or the difference, that you would not be able to make a differentiation.
By the way, nowhere in my column do I mention the flavour of the chowmein; my comments were restricted to the noodles and the canned mixed vegetables, but I noticed that all those who shared opinions, elected not to comment on this. The praise I gave to the patient staff was never mentioned in any of the tirades. Nor were the mauby we enjoyed and the macaroni and cheese, which others praised. Ah, subjectivity.
To effectively critique German’s restaurant, I would have had to visit it at least a couple of times on different occasions and taste other things on the menu. The food would have been deconstructed and evaluated in a more detailed and technical manner. The décor, layout and general ambience would have had to be included.
We did get spaghetti pasta instead of chowmein noodles. The ‘chowmein’ pasta was cooked with canned mixed vegetables. (I have the photographs to prove it.)
A generic soup base to which meat that has been cooked separately is then added never benefits from the full flavour of the meat. One can get away with that if the soup broth/liquid used to make the soup is a stock of the same nature. In other words, if chicken stock was used to make the soup, or beef stock used to make the soup.
If there was some form of notice board, I and all other patrons would know the following:
The daily menu
The cost of the food
That it comes in small and large portions
That if, while at the counter, we decide to not dine in, we would have to rejoin the line to pay for takeaway containers
That although we are dining in, we should still join the line marked ‘Take-away’ to purchase our food.
Finally, let me close with an excerpt from a response I made on Stabroek News’ website to a commentator who did not share my opinion.
“Other views are always welcomed, enlightening and informative. The crowd (at German’s Restaurant) seems to indicate that something is being done right or there is something that keeps people going back for more.
“You (referring to the commentator) know that your mother makes a BAADD split peas soup and that is because YOU KNOW how the soup is supposed to taste, that gives you a barometer by which to measure the taste of split peas soup (albeit a subjective one). Therefore, YOU can tell when a split peas soup is lacking or mediocre. Get my point?
“I never said I was not going back to German’s; what I do know is that the next time I will be ordering something different from the menu that will probably bowl me over.”