Restaurant Assignment Part Three:
After revisiting my written expectations for my culinary tourism experience at Fandango, I was pleasantly surprised that they were, on an overall level, happily met. In my expectations I wrote, “I’ve never eaten seafood, or tried anything other ethnic food than Chinese and taco bell, I hope to push my boundaries, perhaps break them” and push my boundaries I did (for the most part). I happily tried things such as smoked salmon, and empanadas and even though I didn’t care for the salmon, I was glad for the experience of trying it. I did stick with some more familiar foods such as Mac & Cheese, and Steak, however I got to investigate the Spanish take on these dishes. I was happy with the tapas dining experience, with all its difficulties like finding room on the table, and was glad to partake in it.
A dissonance between my expectations and the reality was most definitely the service. The happy bubbly man I mentioned in my expectations was not present, nor did I encounter anyone like him, during my visit at Fandango. My waitress was impatient to put it lightly, however the service of food was right on par. Because the ambience and the food was so enjoyable, I didn’t pay as much attention to the poor social skills on that evening of our waitress, and passed it off as her having a long night.
After our long discussion about what “authenticity” really is, I became very suspicious of the word before my trip to the restaurant. While I was eating I started thinking: Can this be considered an authentic Spanish restaurant if they serve Mac & Cheese, or Shrimp? Part of my confusion, I believe comes from the fact that I know little to nothing about what people from Spain actually eat. Some of the dishes, such as paella, seemed more authentic merely because the name of the food was in Spanish, but does that make it legitimate?
After it’s all said and done I am really glad that I chose a restaurant that served Spanish cuisine (authentic or not). I hope I can take the tastes I encountered with the foods more foreign to me, and translate them, along with my English, over to Spanish when I hopefully study abroad in Spain in the future. More than just the food, I will take the whole concept of tourism with better understanding. Tourism is a willingness to try the new, accept the different and challenge my previous conceptions of normal. By stepping out of my comfort zone, even if it wasn’t by much, will help me to do the same in a foreign country.
I am so appreciative of the opportunity to practice culinary tourism. The whole experience made me more willing to try, see and do new things. Tapas dining is something great I got to experience, and I am so happy I did! Fandango will now become part of my more regular dining outings. That’s another thing too: getting to know the restaurants in an area that I will be spending a good portion of my time in is invaluable. The food was great to taste, and even though the service wasn’t quite up to what I had hoped it would be, the experience overall was one that I wouldn’t change for the world.