Saturday, October 17, 2009

Collected Menu - Osaka, Japan 1970

I like collecting menus as souvenirs because first they are cheap and two it is fun to remember a special meal shared with family or friends. But do remember to ask the waiter/waitress if you may have a free menu or pay a small fee (usually less then a couple of dollars) to get the menu. The menu above is a case in point of what can happen if you don't ask or pay for a menu.

It was spring vacation of 1970 and I was touring Japan and on this particular day the tour was in Osaka at Expo '70 where various world pavilions were showcasing national interests. Betsy Plunkett in our group suggested that we head over to the Belgian Pavilion for Belgian waffles (something I had never had) so we did. After a delightful meal I grabbed the menu because I loved the old world painting on the cover and placed it on the floor by my purse. Someone saw me do this. The waiter came over and calmly asked me to put the menu back on the table implying that stealing the menu was verboten. I said OK and put the menu on the table. And then much to my chagrin this little teacher from Kadena Air base on Okinawa said that we needed to please speak to the manager of the restaurant. I shot her a look that said I'm in trouble for stealing a menu from this restaurant and now you want to bring the manager of the restaurant over to chew me out. What---are you out of your mind? Are you crazy?

The next thing I knew the manager was table side and I was explaining why I wanted the menu and apologizing for not asking for the menu or paying for the menu. I kept smiling and blinking my eyes at the Belgian manager and the Belgian manager kept explaining that they had a fresh batch of menus arriving next week and at that time he could give me a menu. But I countered with that I won't be in Osaka, Japan next week. I'll be back on Okinawa teaching first graders. So he looked at me and sighed and said "Here, take the menu. I shouldn't do this because it is against the rules but you may have it." At that point everyone at my table cheered. And I learned a valuable lesson. I would always ask for a menu or ask to buy a menu. End of story. This menu hangs in my kitchen.

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