Some time ago, when he was in college, a student named Tom worked as a bus boy in a well-known inn, north of Boston. It was one of those upper-crusty establishments at the edge of a school’s campus. And even though the town, school and inn celebrated our New England heritage, they did so not too loudly or tastelessly.
The inn’s menu included fancy names for appetizers and entries, and there were not mere desserts, but a dessert cart which would be brought to your table upon request.
Tom worked with a waitress, whom we will call Josie. Josie was a little more spirited than the stately inn would normally hire, but she was hard working, and patrons liked her.
Commanding the whole operation was a very stayed gentleman, whom we will call Mr. K., who believed in a well run operation, and where everything was taken very seriously, especially the names of dishes, including desserts. He had the distinct air about him of a well-oiled Swiss watch.
So imagine, a night in this high-end restaurant in the upper-crusty inn, where the food, service, and your satisfaction were taken very seriously, when at the end of one patron’s dinner, Mr. K. directed Josie “Please take the dessert cart to table six.”
And Josie, far enough out of earshot from Mr. K., turned to Tom and said:
“There’s goes that knucklehead again telling me to take the pie wagon to table six. Why doesn’t he call it by its right name?”
A pie wagon, let alone plain pie might exist in a less grand establishment, but never in the well heeled inn North of Boston.
This story has stuck with me for over thirty years, because Josie created equality for all desserts, fancy desserts and a humble slice of pie and perhaps for all food. One person’s Battle of Bunker Hill Beef could stand next to a diner patron’s open-faced roast beef sandwich, and Crème Brulee could sit next to grape nut pudding.
If you go to a restaurant, I hope you enjoy yourself. If you still have an appetite for dessert and a dessert cart is available feel free to indulge. But as that cart rolls towards you, please don’t forget that by any other name it’s a Pie Wagon.