Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You may NOT have it your way

I am a modifier. But I have an excuse! I have food allergies! It's not my fault. And I'm always very apologetic. Having worked in restaurants for over 10 years, I know that I am the kind of patron that waiters and waitresses hate. So I make the extra effort to be apologetic and pained to make all the modifications I need to make when I'm at a restaraunt. It's really hard to find something on a menu that actually does not need any alterations in order for me to be able to eat it. I'm allergic to dairy, tomatoes and peppers. I also don't eat red meat, because my body really can't digest it. And I don't add any frivilous modifications. I try to find something on the menu that will create as little of a raucous as possible. I always start my order with, "Hi, I'm so so sorry, but can I have the Chicken Parmigian without the cheese and with the lemon herb sauce instead of marinara? I'm so sorry. Thank you Thank you Thank you."

If you are a food modifier like me, let me just make a suggestion: Do not move to Singapore. I'm not sure if it's a problem on the enitre continent of Asia, but in Singapore, you will eat what they give you and that is the end of that. It's taken 3 months for me to accept it. I pretty much have to eat at home because it's just inevitable that I will get the blank stare of confusion if I try to make any change whatsoever to a menu item. Apparently, it just doesn't happen.

I love McDonalds breakfast. I mean, who doesn't? I walk up to the counter and I say, "Hello! Can I have an egg mcmuffin with no cheese?" I'm answered with a blank stare. "Like, just the egg on an english muffin. No cheese." When the cashier has gotten over the shock of me asking for something to be altered, they usually say, "I'm sorry, we don't have that on the menu." Uh, yes, you do have it on the menu! It's not like I asked you to add marshmellow Fluff to my Egg McMuffin (in which case, it would be an Egg McFluffin)! I just want you to take away something that's there.

So, I patiently say, "Well, I know it's not listed on the menu, but I am allergic to dairy, so I thought maybe I could have one, just without the cheese." Another blank stare, maybe a look around for the manager. Sometimes, I just say, "Forget it," and order it with cheese and suffer the consequences all day. Other times I just order a hash brown. But most of the time, they say, "Okay." And then give me an Egg McMuffin with cheese on it anyway.

It's like that in any restaurant, pub, cafe or eatery you will find in Singapore. They simply cannot understand why on earth anyone would ask to change something that is clearly stated on the menu.

I have just stopped trying because you end up spending 15 to 20 minutes explaining why you want to modify something, then they will say okay, and you will get exactly what the menu says regardless of what you asked for so there's really no sense in even asking. It makes me chuckle thinking about how in America, patrons would just lose their marbles over this. Managers would be chewed out by customers on an hourly basis. No one ever orders whats exactly on the menu in America! We get it how we want it, gosh darn it!

And it doesn't stop at food. As a lady, you can't buy panties or bras that are not in a "set." This means, they assume that everyone who wears a size 34B bra, wears the same size panties. And trust me, ladies in Singapore have much smaller butts and thighs then us American lassies! I tried on the bra in a store a month ago and I asked the lady, "How do I know if the undies will fit?" She said, "Oh, they will. The bra fits, so the panties will fit." Of course, I got them home and they would barely pull up above my knees.

I guess it's been working for them for the past few hundred years, so who am I to come along and ask for bigger panties or a cheeseless Egg McMuffin? I'm just stick to what they give me and like it . . . for the next nine months anyway.


  1. Sooo true. And have you noticed that most of the time the Singaporean menu doesn't actually TELL you what's on what, and then it arrives and you're like -- what is all this crap doing on this plate??

    Caramelized onions on a burger. Unexpected, that is very disconcerting.

  2. I am a frivolous modifier....I don't have food allergies, I just don't want the extra calories the cheese comes with!! I've NEVER understood why it's so hard to leave something off on a menu item...a question I've asked many times on the 2nd or 3rd trip back to the McDonalds counter!! Great post.

  3. It's not just Singapore. I've never been to any country in East Asia where they don't look at you funny if you want something different.