Ho Ho Ho… ly Moly

We all have some funny beliefs about food. Whether that’s based on where in the world you grew up*, or what your grandmother told you**, or something you saw on Netflix***, there’s no getting away from misconceptions.

The fun part is that you don’t even know you’re wrong until it’s too late. Sometimes that realization only means you look a little silly. Sometimes you pay with your life (not really, but that sounds super dramatic doesn’t it?).

Orange Pekoe

I was working at a hotel breakfast buffet when a guest asked for black tea. We had a selection of teas in a cute little box so I went over and showed her that we had black tea; it was an orange pekoe. The guest said that she was allergic to citrus and wanted a tea without oranges. I explained that orange pekoe tea didn’t actually have oranges in it. She didn’t believe me, because, well, why should she? She doesn’t know me. So I pulled out my phone and I Googled it for her. Site after site said that orange pekoe doesn’t have oranges in it. It’s a grade of tea leaf, a size.

She insisted that all of the tea sites I showed her were wrong and that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
She had a cup of Earl Grey. Which actually has orange pekoe in it.

Sweet Breads

My friend and I were dining at a French restaurant in Toronto. The couple at the table next to us were figuring out their order. One of them wanted sweetbreads as their appetizer. Boy, were they disappointed when they didn’t get donuts.

Yellow Mustard

Many years ago my family was visiting the UK. We were at an air museum somewhere, you know, airplanes and that kind of thing. We stopped at the cafeteria for lunch and ordered a bunch of typical caf food: french fries, tomato sandwiches, baked beans. My father for some reason (probably missing the tastes of home) ordered a hotdog.

This isn’t a weird food in the UK (although they did boil it) but all he got to put on it was ketchup/tomato sauce. My dad loved mustard on his hotdogs so he asked for some and they gave him some brown mustard, which I later found out was actually mild dijon mustard. My dad did not like that look of this and demanded “yellow mustard”. I think he thought he was going to get a bottle of French’s yellow.

What he got was a small jar of Colman’s, which he proceeded to empty onto his hotdog. If you’ve never had Colman’s or Keen’s yellow mustard it’s very much like the wasabi you get at sushi places. Hot.

The cursing could be heard in France.

That’s it for 2019. Hope you all have happy holidays! See you next year.

* In the US and Canada we eat a lot of holiday turkeys and we’ve all heard about how eating turkey makes you sleepy. It doesn’t. Eating a big meal in a warm house full of people and getting gunned on Christmas makes you sleepy.

** My grandmother told me when I was a little boy that I should never drink milk while eating lobster as it would curdle in my stomach and make me sick. I pointed out that lobster chowder was just lobster swimming in milk. She never mentioned it again. She also didn’t thank me.

*** Eating at McDonald’s for a month won’t kill you. Just sayin’.

Have an interesting restaurant story either as staff or as a guest? Be a part of this series by submitting firsthand experiences of imperious bosses, difficult guests, odd service, and your own and others’ gaffes. Please send stories to or private message Salty on social media.

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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