Just call me the beerman. On second thought, don’t.
K used to work in a bar, where she expertly served beer, coffee, beer, wine, beer and a few other drinks (most of which were beer) to the clientele, which in Belgium includes everyone in town, from kids sipping sodas and sweet ice tea to grandparents wheeling their walkers cautiously through the crowd. (Other than the cigarette smoke, bars are much less seedy in this neck of the woods.)
One of her coworker’s husbands celebrated his 40th birthday last night, and she asked K and I to tend the bar at the party. I don’t know squat about drinks, beyond what I learned in college (i.e. that a screwdriver made with tang is really not very good) but since it was just beer, soda, and water, I figured it would be no problem. “Just beer” sounded like a plausible enough phrase at the time.
As you are probably aware, Belgium is famous for its beer, and I in turn probably should have been aware that being known for expertise in something might mean a more…shall we say “expert” view of it.
Apparently you can’t just put some beer in a glass and give it to a Belgian. We had eight types of beer on hand, and each one has it’s own particular method of pouring, which absolutely must be followed, or you might as well dump it down the drain. Additionally, each beer needs to be served in the correct glass, bearing it’s name and logo as well as being the appropriate shape. Put a Stella Artois in a Jupiler glass? You fool! Two days in the stockade! On half your beer ration! Okay, we’ll take pity, just the stockade.
(Again, I am not really a drinker, so if this is true in the States too, someone please let me know. Anybody from Boulder around here?)
It’s a good thing Belgians are generally such nice people. And that I’m clueless. At one point I served a dozen pints or so to these two later-middle-aged women, and could understand enough of their conversation to know they were discussing the carnival outside. (Belgians frickin love their street carnivals. It seems like half the time we drive across town we have to detour around one, and there was coincidentally one on the same street last night.)
They seemed oddly bitchy though, and after they left K explained to me that “there’s a carnival in town” means there is too much foam on the beer. Well excuuuse me. The wine came out of a box, but hand them a glass with an extra half centimeter of froth and they hold the thing like it was seasoned with slowly drowning cockroaches.
By the way, the Dutch word for cockroach is “kakkerlakken.” I love that word. If I ever end up owning the combo shop/restaurant I wonder about, I am totally going to serve something called The Kakkerlakken. Maybe something with candied pecans?
The Big Three of Belgian cuisine are beer, fries, and chocolate. Unfortunately (fortunately) chocolate was the one missing. They hired a fries-wagon to park next to the side entrance until 1:00 AM, ladling over fries and mayonnaise to the cheery celebrants. (Please don’t call them “French” fries to a Belgian, that is insulting, they come from Belgium, dagnabbit! I’m not sure the Dutch word for “dagnabbit” but when I find it out, I’ll let you know.)
Due to the miracle that is the Taco Truck, I am perfectly amenable to eating food passed through the open siding of a motor vehicle, which is good because these things show up at most events in Belgium. The bizarre thing to me is that they don’t run on biodiesel. There is a business opportunity there…