A Comedy Trope. A character is eating a fancy restaurant where the menu is in a foreign language. Attempting to appear sophisticated and impress their date, the character points at something impressive sounding on the menu and says they'll have that, only for the waiter to inform them that they have just ordered the dress code, the chef or something similar. This may also occur if the character is nearsighted, and in bad cases what they try to order from is not even the menu.
Alternatively, the character could order an actual dish, but add a provisio that indicates they have no idea what it is they have just ordered. When Played for Laughs
, often involves the waiter bringing back a heaping helping of the region's finest Foreign Queasine
Film - Animated
Film - Live Action
- There is an Urban Legend, where a girl sees some Chinese characters on a menu that "look pretty", so she has them tattooed on herself. Later on, someone from China sees her tattoo, and laughs hysterically; the characters actually read "cheap, but tasty".
- Joke example:
Customer: (Poring over the menu) I'll have the... (italian-style pronunciation) pageone, please.
Waiter: That's not a dish, sir, that's "Page One".
- A joke that went around during the Bush administration, probably a holdover from Bill Clinton's years, too. A young lady came out to take the president's dinner order:
Dick Cheney: That's "quiche"!
- Dave Barry explained in his column "The Evil Eye" that he was getting too nearsighted to read restaurant menus, so he just points randomly at something which turns out to be his napkin, and tells the waiter, "I want that medium rare." This joke also appears in Dave Barry Turns 50, with a medium-rare order of "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks."
- In Our Dumb World's entry on Burkina Faso, there's a joke about the very low literacy rate of that country when one of their diplomats tries to order a notice that an extra gratuity may be charged for large groups.
- The Andy Griffith Show: while in Mount Pilot, Andy & Barney go to a fancy French restaurant. Andy isn't too proud to say he can't read the menu and just orders a steak. Barney points to menu items and gets stuff he never thought of as food.
- There was a Mr. Bean sketch, which involved him ordering Steak tartare, believing it was just a fancy steak and the rest of the episode revolved around him trying to get rid of all the raw beef.
- Red Dwarf: Rimmer demanded gazpacho soup served hot, but gazpacho is served cold. He never, ever lived it down.
- Ray Stevens' song "Gourmet Restaurant" is filled with stuff like this:
So I asked the waiter, "How's the beef?"
He said "Ze steak tartar is ze best you ever had."
But when he brought it, friends I thought I'd seen rare meat
But this wasn't even hurt real bad!
I can understand chocolate eggs, and chocolate bunny rabbits, But a chocolate moose? Ain't never gonna catch on...
- The Simpsons: Selma takes Hans Moleman out to dinner in order to seduce him (she wants a baby, and by this time doesn't much care with who). He tries to read the menu but the waiter tells him it's the wine list. "Very good."
- On Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bullwinkle goes into a coffee shop and looks over the menu. Seeing that refills are free, he tells the waiter "think I'll have some of that there refill."
- In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon is at a French restaurant and tries to order in French and is served a pair of boiled athletic shoes by a French Jerk waiter. In another episode, he ends up ordering the chef's daughter with cheese on her.
- In Hey Arnold! Helga, trying to pass herself off as Arnold's French pen pal whilst in disguise and with a very rudimentary knowledge of French, attempts to make a order from the menu of a fancy French restaurant. It isn't until she's happily tucking into the dish that the waiter informs her that she's eating cow brain and eggs... which prompts a dart to the bathroom. Arnold played it safe with a steak and fries.
- What's New, Scooby-Doo?: In "Pompeii and Circumstance", Fred is continually misreading his Italian phrase book. As a result, he orders a potted plant at a restaurant.
- James Bond Jr.: In one episode, the snotty rich kid takes a girl to a restaurant and orders a meal in French. On his first attempt he orders a live lobster. When the focus returns to him after cutting to Bond's adventures for a while, he's finally managed to order something edible in French - a cheese sandwich.
- Artist James McNeil Whistler (as in Mother) reportedly went to a restaurant in France and ordered a flight of stairs.