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- A tv ad had a young woman driving the advertised car, following along to a "Learn Italian" tape when a distinguished man pulls up next to her. He talks to her in Italian; she breezily replies in Italian (subtitled) "Good toast, waiter. I would like a slice of suitcase!" and drives off. Hopefully she picks up a bit more before her trip to Italy.
- McDonald's had a commercial on Finnish TV where a Finnish boy goes to an obscure restaurant in an even more obscure Banana Republic and phones to his friend in Finland, asking: The menu says 'culebra'. Is it edible? The friend answers: Yes, it is just the ordinary chow. Go for it!. The commercial continues: "It wasn't ordinary chow. was it? In McDonalds you know what you get."note
- Steve Martin's 1977 comedy album Wild and Crazy Guy had a routine about how attempting to order in a foreign language could lead to this.
"The problem with trying to order in French, is that the waiter thinks you speak [fluent] French, and goes, (French-sounding gibberish) and you go, '...Yes!' And he brings you a shoe with cheese on it. And you also told him to force it down your throat. 'I'll have a shoe with cheese on it, force it down my throat, and I want to massage your grandmother, okay?'"
- Jasper Carrott has a routine about visiting Hong Kong with friends and visiting a restaurant where people ordered by pointing at animals in cages. An animal would dissappear into the kitchen and a little later would reappear cooked on a plate. Carrot noticed a scruffy dog sniffing around the street tables. His friend nudged him and said "For Christ's sake don't point at it!"
Film - Animated
- Played With in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown - Charlie Brown, Linus, Marcie, and Peppermint Patty stop to eat in a British pub while en route to France. However, being Americans, they're clearly not familiar with British cuisine as they are forced to ask the waiter for help in deciding what to eat. This doesn't help either as not one of them can understand the waiter's British English.
Charlie Brown: What did he say?Marcie: Perhaps I should have studied *English*, not French.
Film - Live Action
- The Jerk: Marie gets the escargot at a fancy restaurant after she and Navin become rich.
Navin: You would think that in a fancy restaurant at these prices you could keep the snails off the food!
- In Way of the Dragon, Bruce Lee's character goes into a restaurant in Italy and accidentally orders every soup on the menu (which later makes him have to pee a lot).
- English version in Komaa - Hassan doesn't understand even basic english and attempts to order a "coffee shop."
- 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:
George W. Bush: (Poring over the menu) I'd like a quickie, please.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.
- A very slight case, similar to the Pearls Before Swine example below: Michel Houellebecq fed one of his characters chervil, and admitted that he has no idea how chervil tastes and just thinks it's a pretty word.
- 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. The second movie had this when he orders the seafood platter by accident, not knowing any other French words but "oui".
- Red Dwarf: Rimmer demanded gazpacho soup served hot, but gazpacho is served cold. He never, ever lived it down.
- From an episode of Taxi: "He insisted on ordering the meal in French. My main course was ten pats of butter."
- Levelled up as the basis for the "Mongolian Restaurant" sketch in the comedy show The Two Ronnies. Typical comment / response: Ronnie: "That's disgusting", other Ronnie holding up two hands: "That's a lot of gusting".
- 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...
- Zits manages both forms in one strip. Attempting to impress Sara, Jeremy orders the radicchio, "medium rare, of course". The waiter informs him that the raddichio is a salad and the chef prefers to serve it raw. As Sara and Connie dissolve in laughter, Walt attempts to make Jeremy feel better by saying that when he and Connie were dating he once ordered "jackets required".
- One Pearls Before Swine strip had Guard Duck on a date with Maura, ordering "The chateaubriand, cooked medium well, and a glass of your finest pinot noir". Although the actual strip wasn't an example, Stephan Pastis said this about the strip in the "Pearls Sells Out" commentary:note
Stephan Pastis: I really don't know what chateaubriand is. It just sounded like something fancy you'd order in an expensive restaurant. I'm hoping it is actually a type of food.
- Carl Giles: When the family is in France, every attempt by would-be intellectual Henry to order steak and chips in French ends up with the family being served frogs legs.
- One Gahan Wilson cartoon shows a patron with an inedible pile of ashes on his plate, while a snooty waiter says, "It's a burnt telephone book. We gave it a fancy French name and you ordered it."
- Ozy and Millie: Llewellyn goes to a Chinese restaurant and tries to place his order in Chinese. The waiter brings him a shoe and a bowling ball.
- 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 mentions not many kids like 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.