There’s a fine line between being a bad-ass and an embarrassment, and I find myself falling on the wrong side of that line a little too often. My whole life I’ve been a bit of a know-it-all, and I don’t mean in a good way. Though it’s awful to embarrass yourself, embarrassing your child is one of the perks of parenthood.
Last week I found myself at a restaurant with my daughter, and two girls from her swim team. The plan was for a group of us to go out, but when we arrived at the restaurant they couldn’t seat eleven of us together. The name of the restaurant is C’est Fromage, and if you’re going to use that name, you’d better know your cheese! It was an adorable place with a charming little cheese shop up front where we sampled some cheeses and jams as we waited for our table situation to be sorted out.
My daughter likes cheese more than any other food, and this seemed like the perfect place to order it. She and her friend would share the three cheese plate, of Carr’s Valley Billy Blue cheese, Mt Tam from Cowgirl Creamery (one of my favorites) and a classic Gruyère. The cheese arrived on a slate, with each cheese’s name in perfect script on the slate, and a nice variety of breads, jams, dried fruit and mustards to accompany the cheeses.
When the server put down the slate I knew they had mis-labeled the Gruyère. I called her over and let her know but she insisted it was labeled correctly. Though it took me a few minutes to recall the name of the cheese, there was no way this was Gruyère; it was Manchego. Each of the girls had a different reaction, one was concerned at the price per pound for the substitute, I think another just wanted the whole thing to go away, and Rachel (my daughter) was clearly torn. We’d looked up both cheeses on the internet and I showed the girls what they each looked like, and there was no doubt the restaurant had made an error.
As we ate I could tell my daughter was struggling with her feelings about the situation. She didn’t want me to do anything that would draw attention to us, but she didn’t want anyone else to get the wrong cheese. I waited to see what she wanted, which side would win her inner tug of war. Eventually she told me I should say something, but “Please, don’t make a scene” she added. Yes, to protect further cheese eaters it was our duty to speak up.
The place had an open kitchen and things looked pretty quiet. I walked over, rind in hand, and started what I hoped was a friendly expert to expert conversation (yup, that’s me) with the chef. I showed him the rind of the offending cheese, which he immediately recognized. What followed was a ridiculous amount of apologizing and them imploring us to accept some dessert.
It was a cold, rainy night, and it was getting late, no one wanted dessert, and all I wanted to do was get on the road, knowing I had at least an hour’s drive ahead of me. The trip home was quiet. When we got home I asked Rachel how she felt about the cheese situation. She looked uncomfortable, and hesitated to answer.
“I feel like you’re torn between me totally embarrassing you, and you being proud that I’m such a culinary bad-ass.” “Yup” she said “that’s pretty much it.”