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EuropeIn Portugal, try to go to the same restaurant more than once…

In Portugal, try to go to the same restaurant more than once…

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João Ruy Faustino
João Ruy Faustino
João Ruy is a Portuguese freelancer who writes about European political actuality for The European Times. He is also a contributor for Revista BANG! and a former writer for Central Comics and Bandas Desenhadas.

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As with any other country, there are many unwritten rules. If you now live in Portugal, or if you’re just a tourist, read this text to get a tip that will make you more welcome in the country.

You enter in a more traditional Portuguese restaurant or café, to eat a more traditional Portuguese food. You’re nervous, will they scowl you for being a foreigner? You look at the menu or at the exhibited food, and you ask the waiter (or God forbid the manager) what dish they recommend for lunch.

He looks at you with “that” face… You know, the face of judgment… He points to the “house specialty”, like he is screaming “you entered here searching for what other than this?”.

You feel your stomach turning around, and it is not the hunger you were feeling before you entered the place… You feel small, reduced to the position of “uninformed tourist” or something like that. You drink from the water you ordered, looking at the other people in the place. Not that they’re talking about you, but you know that at least one person said “what’s this tourist doing here?”. 

Now the waiter and the manager are looking at you while they speak, as if you needed to feel worse about yourself. Someone in the kitchen calls for the waiter, he goes there and when he’s back he brings a plate, your plate…

He puts it on the table, you say “Thank you”, he says “De nada” with a somewhat long face. “You did nothing wrong”, you say, “So just eat the food”… The meal is very delicious, humble, but very good. The price is even better, and so close to the place where you’re staying… It is just too convenient.

So you go there again, they looked happy when you left, they noticed that you liked the food, so maybe it wasn’t that bad. 

When you enter for the second time you see the waiter that served you the last time, “Hello!” he says recognizing you. The “hello” could be for the worst reasons of course, like “that tourist again…”, but you give him the benefit of the doubt, the “hello” seemed too nice for that…

More at ease than the last time, you order the same dish, but the waiter says “No, no, that dish is beginners stuff. Since you liked it that much we are going to cook you a real traditional dish.”. Wow, you don’t even ask what dish it is, you just say: “Bring it on then…”

And if it’s not better than the other dish… Wow! This one really is incredible! The manager comes to you to ask if you liked the dish, you not only say yes but you also ask the origin of the dish, and he tells you everything about it… You then ask for a desert, and they bring you “the special” with a cup of liquor. And the rest is history…

It may not happen as fast, but this can certainly happen to you. Many foreigners say to me that the Portuguese are not hospitable or nice with them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth… 

The truth is this: Portuguese  (especially the more elderly) are a bit particular, hard to please at first, but the best way to break this “block of ice” is by showing perseverance and especially loyalty.

So, for example, in this story, “you” managed to surpass the initial tension by going there again, showing that even with the suspicious looks you still liked the food/restaurant. 

So you just have to pass an endurance test…

And this “distrust” is not directed only at foreigners, I can certainly relate to this too, so don’t treat it as a “stigma” against you personally… 🙂

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