An amusing tale of two cultures, or how not to order French fries!
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a fantastic burger bar in the centre of Bristol, called Mickey Finns. I’m not sure if it is still there today, but back then for a young lad out on the town, it was an essential stopping off point for any big night out.
One evening on the way to a gig – that’s a live music concert for those not in the know – I decided to drop into Mickey Finns for some French fries. What should have been a relatively simple process: ordering said French fries to take away, rapidly turned into a complete farce.
“Large fries, please,” said I, in my thick West Country accent to the young girl standing behind the counter.
“Edin or Dez Gouts?” she replied, in a very non-West Country accent.
Edin or Dez Gouts. What could she possibly mean by this strange reply, I thought, as I wracked my brain for a suitable response. I was by no means an amateur when it came to ordering takeaway’s, but never before had I been faced with such a choice. In the end, I opted for the very British reply: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”
“Edin or Dez Gouts?” she said again, this time a little louder and with more emphasis on each word. Despite this approach, which is often used by the English when abroad, on home ground it failed completely and I still had no idea what I was being asked.
Fixing her with what I thought was my most sympathetic look, I replied: “What do you mean? I have no idea what you are asking me.”
“Edin or Dez Gouts?” came the reply, this time with more than a touch of frustration on her part.
Standing there in the middle of Mickey Finns, with a growing crowd of customers now piling up behind me, I started to panic. What were these strange new words I was being accosted with and why hadn’t I heard them before? Could Dez Gouts be a new type of condiment or gherkin that I was being offered? What if I gave her the wrong answer? Would I end up with something other than French fries, which is all that I really wanted? Okay, so a bit of mayonnaise on the top wouldn’t have gone amiss, but that was all. I was pretty certain that I didn’t want any Dez Gouts added to my order.
In desperation, I said: “Mayonnaise?” in the hope that it would settle the matter, but unfortunately, it only made things worse.
“Edin or Dez Gouts!” came the response from the now irate girl behind the counter.
“I don’t know! I don’t know what Dez Gouts are!” I cried in desperation and for a few brief moments, we faced the very real possibility of us being locked in an endless cycle of ‘Dez Gouts’ and ‘Don’t knows’ for the rest of time.
Then there was a gentle tap on my shoulder and some kindly soul standing behind me said in a reassuringly meaty Bristolian accent: “Eat in or take out?”
Suddenly, the fog of uncertainty in my brain vanished. Eat in or take out? Could it really have been as simple a misunderstanding as all that? Bright red with shame, I seem to recall uttering the words ‘take out, please’ to the exasperated girl, who fixed me with a withering stare, before taking my money and shouting the order back into the kitchen. A few minutes later, the bag of greatly contested French fries appeared on the counter, which I grabbed before racing out into the street, never to be seen in Mickey Finn’s again.
These days, I can’t remember which gig I was going to see that night and I don’t think I really enjoyed my French fries very much because we both forgot about the mayonnaise, but I’ll always remember the strange girl in Mickey Finns asking me about Dez Gouts!