Unless you want to have a heated debate, it’s probably best not to talk about politics or religion with anyone other than close friends. I’ve discovered there’s also a third topic to avoid. Pot-Roast. No, really.
Guido repeatedly tells me that in the restaurant business there are no bad customers, there are only customers. The customer is king. They pay our bills. Like the spiralling ones attached to the cost of our wedding. The customer is always right. Yes Guido.
Except, there’s a guy who comes into the café every lunchtime who I’d happily strangle. He works in a gym around the corner. He wears a track suit and a heart monitor on his bicep like he’s expecting to collapse on the spot. He always orders Coleslaw Salad. Here’s the rub. The coleslaw has to be freshly squeezed. And I don’t mean freshly squeezed in the kitchen earlier that morning, I mean freshly squeezed by the waiter into a bowl in front of him. I am not making this up. The café was packed today so I ended up sharing a booth with him. One minute I was quietly licking a gherkin, then the next I was watching him surveying mayonnaise drip from raw cabbage as if his life depended on it. It was like the polar ice cap melting in slow motion.
“I insist this is done on a daily basis,” he said. “That way I know it’s absolutely fresh.”
“Oh everything’s fresh here,” I said breezily.
“Yeah, yeah, I hear you,” said Freshly Squeezed, “But. Duh, just take a look at that Specials Black Board. Yuk, Casserole. That’s probably just chopped up bits of Sunday’s roast in gloopy tomato sauce.” He obviously thought I was another customer. As opposed to somebody who’s sleeping with the chef. “The only casserole I’d ever eat would be a lean roasted beef fillet in a pot.”
“Duh. That wouldn’t be a casserole,” I said, “that would be a Post-Roast.”
The words sort of slipped out from between my lips. I couldn’t help myself. Freshly Squeezed eyes narrowed horribly. The next thing I knew he’d leapt up and was clapping his hands to attract everyone’s attention.
“Ok listen up people,” he yelled, “who knows the difference between a Casserole and a Pot-Roast?” The whole place looked at him like he was nuts. Which clearly, he was. He sat down again, “Philistines,” he said prodding his salad. His heart monitor bleeped.
I could see Guido staring disapprovingly at me from the kitchen. Ominously he had a meat cleaver in his hand. My thoughts flipped to expensive wedding venues.
“Actually,” I said, “come to think of it, you’re absolutely right. My big mistake. And God yeah, avoid that casserole like the plague. I should know – I’m having regular sex with the chef who makes it. Trust me. You don’t know the half of what goes on in that kitchen.”
I think the following recipe originated from the back of a Knorr packet. Guido swears by it. It definitely isn’t a casserole.
Guido’s Nothin’ To It Pot-Roast
Place a decent sized lean beef joint in a Le Creuset pot with a lid (Dutch Oven). Add a large chopped onion, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a packet of dried French Onion soup, and half a bottle of red wine. Roast in a medium hot oven for about 2 hours. It tastes great with mashed potato and green beans.