The Belgian always says that the problem with most people who work in restaurants, is that they don’t go to them. Because most places are low payers and working in catering is hardly held as a decent profession outside London, most of the staff are inexperienced in the important skills you learn from eating out. Which is probably why they often know nothing about food.

Last year I had dinner in a posh, rather out of the way place, I ordered a Crab and Chervil Risotto. I never tire of saying that I always like to have crab on a menu because I don’t much like cooking them at home. Too many questions of life and limb. And Chervil is a real reminder for me of fresh flavours from the childhood kitchen garden. What arrived was a savoury creamed rice with chives through it but no sign of chervil (light on the crab too). On questioning the waitress, she looked blank and went to ask the chef. He sent her back saying it was in the risotto, when I pointed out that said herbs were chives, she took it back to the kitchen, whence it was summarily redispatched with a sprig of chervil on the top. At that point I gave in because I knew that neither of these underpaid and no doubt hard-working individuals had a clue what I was on about.

I have been to two restaurants lately and ordered fish soup. To me it is the mark of a place that they can engineer the flavours and textures of a bouillabaise based dish with the right balance, usually only found in France. In both restaurants the menus claimed that the dishes were served with rouille. This is a provencal sauce comprising olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chile peppers. A common accompaniment and often served with a crouton and grated gruyere. It is something of a rare treat and I love it.

So when on both occasions there was no sign of it being served I questioned the staff. The first time was in a restaurant which claims to be French and I was dismissed with the note that it ‘is already mixed in the soup’. The second time, I was told that it is used to thicken the soup. At which I couldn’t resist suggesting they were surely confusingĀ roux andĀ rouille.

I am really not a moan in restaurants and dont like to use the pages of this blog to do so but I do get a bit fed up of being told how and what to eat by people who are not well enough trained by their employers in the art of food and cooking. Staff in every decent restaurant I ever worked in were always made to be up to speed in all the ingredients, tastes and complexities of good food. After all, you wouldn’t expect a sommelier not to have tasted the wine he sells you.