Well, isn’t it fun to review a reviewer?!
Larissa Dubecki, restaurant reviewer, tells of her time when she was at the other end of the waiting game, in her memoir, Prick With a Fork.
Before dining at over 1400 restaurants (and having “…an ongoing battle with 5 kilograms that came along for the ride uninvited…“), Dubecki claims she was the world’s worst waitress. Dishing the dirt on ‘waitering’, she shares stories from her time working at various restaurants and cafes, including a dodgy Mexican joint (which sounded even worse than Tacky-Bills); gastro-pubs (it was the nineties); and an internet cafe/bar (see previous point re: gastro-pubs).
The book had laugh-out-loud moments (people spewing in champagne buckets seems to be a regular thing); some charming passages where Dubecki reminisces about her earliest dining experiences (the Chinese restaurant of the eighties); and some bits that make you positively recoil – if you’ve read the book, you’ll probably be joining me in a life-long ban on tuna melts.
I like Dubecki’s slick sense of humour (although perhaps in smaller doses – a column rather than a whole book?) –
“…there’s a spruiker out the front… screaming ‘CIAO BELLA!’ in the face of every female under the age of ninety on the assumption that women need only be told they’re beautiful by a glib arsehole in a waistcoat to think ‘Goodness, I really feel like lasagne’.
But the memoir lacked structure. On reflection, it seemed to be presented in largely chronological order however it fluffed along – stories of restaurant owners, other waiters, crazy chefs and odd customers blend together and although there’s 16 chapters in the book, there was little to distinguish them. And for the record, I don’t think she was the world’s worst waitress (because she never shat in someone’s dinner. As Dubecki points out, “Messing around with faecal matter turns revenge into an extreme sport”).
2/5 It’s light, it’s fun but go for Bourdain if you want hardcore.
As an aside, I love nothing more than checking out Chinese restaurants in rural towns – firstly, there’s nearly always one; secondly, they always have fabulously exotic names (on a recent road trip we saw Eurora’s Flam Shan and Yass’s Fook Lee Loy); and finally, they are delightfully stuck in the eighties. For the record, some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had was in Bairnsdale.
Dubecki’s description of the Australian-Cantonese dining experience is spot-on –
“You know the deal: Chinoiserie, lazy Susans, carved screens, red walls, dense carpet and a soundtrack that displayed the astonishing depth and breadth of the Richard Clayderman back-catalogue.”