Social Climbers

To tell you the truth–I don’t really belong to the society’s elitists. I mean I could claim elitism in my own right, but then that isn’t really what my point is in this entry.

Admitting to the fact that I’m on the lower rung of social status—especially when it comes to finances, party life, neighborhood— i have to say, I’m at a loss when it comes to fine dining. Fast food chains are my kind of home. I don’t mind eating at turo-turo (and have been, in fact, hospitalized for eating fishballs sold on streets). I usually let my friends order for me, not because they have great tastes, but because I don’t. They could scrutinize and analyze food ingredients, while I munch happily away—not knowing if the food was intendedly sour— or, panis na pala.

So being friends with people who could cook really great and have the craving to eat out all the time somehow influenced me into venturing out other food chains and restaurants other than the not so famous Jollibee and McDonalds.
Of course, I still shy away from “those big-time restos”, and would only try out those I think I can afford.

So one balmy Thursday, I ‘braved’ (meaning being able to look straight ahead without salivating on the sea of dresses and shoes on sale) my way through Alabang Town Center with Jagger, who was as clueless as I was with the what’s of fine dining. Since there was no Yellowcab, Chef d’ Angelo, and Sbarro in sight…and Burger King seems too shallow for what our appetites require, we decided to give California Pizza Kitchen a try. It might seem exaggerated if I say we had to walk around two times just to convince ourselves it was OK to eat there. Appetite won against reason—and our only consolation was, at least we’ll know better next time. We even made a deal of no turning back—and no changing minds once inside. We come in, we eat, and pay whatever the cost.

We were seated by this cute waiter and were given the menus. Uh-oh. I am afraid of handed menus. The kind of menus give me the idea that the place is savvy, posh, and overpriced. Menus with more colors and pictures, ornate fonts, and ordinary spaghetti in another language makes my stomach lurch in excitement while at the same time, gives my pocket the shivers. But did I mention that the waiter was cute?

Vision over reason.

Simply no turning back.

Jagger ordered (she’s got better English accent than I do).

“Uhmmm…we’ll have the roasted garlic chicken pizza and the tomato basil spaghettinni with goat cheese on the sides please. Thank you.”

“What would you like for drinks, ma’am?”

She looks at me for a second…there was no mistaking for that twinkle in her eyes. Without missing a beat, she says, “We’ll have iced tea. Bottomless.”

When he was out of sight, Jagger reached over and hushed, “The iced tea will be our savior. If something goes wrong with our orders at least we can always down it with the iced tea.”

“Or it’ll give us the illusion we’re full, should the orders be less than what we think they are,” I whispered back.

Truth to tell, we ordered the cheapest course on the fabulous menu. Cheapest meaning P295 for the pizza, P265 for the pasta, and P90 each for the life-saving, bottomless drinks. We ordered for one person, fearing that the price was a hint that our plates would be heaped. We have had the experience in a Chinese restaurant before (of course with friends—ordering for two, only to find out that an order for one could already feed three persons. Besides, it would not be such a heartbreak to split the money after the meal.

Two juicy gossips later, the plate of spaghettini arrived. Surprise, surprise! They weren’t lying when they said that each order was good for one. I smiled at Jagger (since the waiter was still hovering on us, er, the table) and reached out for the fork. In my mind’s eye, three numbers kept mocking me. 265—265—265, whirling around in my head like some mantra. Jagger finally worded my thoughts, “Eto na yun?! Two hundred sixty five para sa ganito kakonting spaghetti?”

“Eh kaya ko rin ‘to gawin noh. Tsk, P265!!” I answered back.

“The goat cheese must’ve made it more expensive, mare.” She explains as she fished out a big mound of cheese on the side of the plate.

When she quickly reached for her iced tea and downed it in big gulps, I knew the goat cheese was a big mistake. Not to be outsmarted, she refuses to describe what it tasted like, hands me the fork and points at the plate. “What…the cheese made you suddenly mute?!” I inquired as I forked a morsel of cheese and sampled it.

“Pweh!!!” –and that was when she laughed like a hyena.

“Told yah!”

“You didn’t tell me anything!”

“Well. Now you know.”

Hands-on learning. Who said it’s an awesome experience?

“Maybe, you ought to mix it up with the spaghettinni. I mean, they wouldn’t really sell goat cheese if it tasted this bad.”

Hence, the two cavemen—er, cavewomen, discovered that goat cheese should be mixed (well) with pasta and not eaten as a separate course.

Four glasses of iced tea later, the roasted garlic chicken pizza came. Wow, how cute the size naman. Again, three numbers loomed in my head. I tried to shake it off. Despite the goat cheese and the ‘enormity’ of what they serve—I was still determined to enjoy the meal. After all, the blessed iced tea was good.

Hayyy—fine dining nga naman.

Well, Jagger left for Bangkok yesterday and I don’t know when our next eating-out adventure would be. As for me, I guess I’ll stick to fast food chains until someone’s willing to school me in that department again.