Guest Checks: Chicken Milanese
"Chicken Milanese" is the third portrait in my series of waitressing anecdotes, Guest Checks. It is a fiction piece hypothesizing why a regular customer always demanded that his Chicken Milanese be served over angel hair, on a plate.
"Chicken Milanese" was 65 when his mother finally died from an infected paper cut that she acquired while scrapbooking revisions of her will.
Freed from the duties of administering enemas and chaperoning movie dates with her assisted living home sweetheart, Enrique, Milanese decided that it was time that he treated himself to a gastronomical Italian excursion.
Upon arriving in Rome, he stopped into an airport trattoria for his first authentic meal, taking a seat beneath a portrait of his Italian doppelgänger. Though weary from a connecting red-eye hot air balloon ride from Zurich, Chicken Milanese genuinely considered if this man that hung above him was his long-lost twin brother.
He ordered spaghetti and meatballs but was given a plate of two polpettone atop a springy mattress of ziti. It was no matter, for miscommunications were to be expected in a foreign country, plus the waiter provided generous amounts of complimentary breadsticks to accompany his house salad.
Famished of protein and culture, Chicken Milanese stabbed his fork straight into the axis of the meatiest meat globe on his plate and the weight of the world caused a singular tubular noodle to launch into the chest of a patron dining to the east. She clutched her heart, glancing down in horror at the stain on her blouse before searching the dining room for her assailant.
The American with a fork fully loaded with saucy bullets shrunk as his victim cried out,
"Io sono stata colpita da un criminale maledetto!"
I've been hit by a goddamn criminal!
If one thing is never lost in translation, it is the sound of awkward, deafening silence.
Chicken Milanese backed out of his seat with a mouthful of meat, redder than an inoperable marinara sauce wound. The dining room held their breath as his chair ricocheted into the wall, knocking the portrait of his hypothesized twin brother to the floor. He mumbled an apology, tossing the remaining Euro in his wallet on the table to cover the reparable damages beyond his own humiliation, and made a quick escape to find a city or identity that would be a more forgiving host of his already glitched jaunt.
The wait staff would rank Chicken Milanese "Public Enemy Number Two" behind the mafioso who slept with the fishes on the floor of Italy's first and only Olive Garden.
C.M. was able to charter a private yacht to Venice by the good graces of a flash deal on Groupon.
The foodie, adamant to salvage his trip with a seaside meal al fresco, consulted the ship's captain for a recommended Venetian dish. The seamen put his hands on his hips, teetering back and forth to deliberate a delectable option that would yield a most abundant tip.
His captain cried out, "Ah! Risotto al nero di seppie!" overcome with sudden epiphany. But before he could acquire a translation for his saving delicacy, Chicken Milanese tumbled forward with the boat as it sailed into a mossy bank.
"Siamo qui, Signore!"
They had arrived whether they liked it or not.
The hungry traveler scoured the pier in search of an eatery that would offer his mysterious risotto nero while his chauffeur settled in at a McDonald's for a quarter pounder with a side order of Wi-Fi.
Chicken Milanese entered the first trattoria in sight, latching onto the eyes of an innocent server like a catfish on algae. He began, "Risotto nero." Chicken Milanese enunciated entirely too loud and too slow. "Do. You. Have. It?"
The waiter nodded, "Yeah. We got it."
"Have," Milanese suggested, correcting the Venetian's English. "It's have, not got."
"It's got where I'm from in Long Island, and that ain't never gonna change," retorted his tri-state area paisano. "Now, we got risotto nero but it's gonna be a good forty minutes. Is Gucci witchu pops or what?"
That was not Gucci wit him — for with great savings come great restrictions. Milanese would be charged an additional five Euro for every minute after his hour rental period with the yacht had passed. His wallet was already trimmed by the Rome incident and he would not let his morale follow in suit.
Wringing his hands, the quasi-mafioso inquired, "Is there any way that I could get it faster?"
"You want the black sauce with spaghetti instead?"
"Fine," Milanese replied. "And is there a chance that I could take it to go? I'd like to enjoy it on my yacht if I could."
The first rule of thumb when bartering for food is to never mention the possession of a yacht.
Chicken Milanese returned to his boat just in time for a maritime sunset having paid an additional 30 euro for take-out on a porcelain plate. Though his spaghetti was cold, his heart was warm with premature nostalgia for quiet evenings like these that lay ahead in his motherless future.
He sat on the nose of his boat and twirled doughy strings around a 5 euro fork, about to savor his first bite of life. A bit of ink escaped from the vortex and onto his lap, but it did faze Milanese. He was finally at peace. Nothing could taint the blank mind of a vengeful son slurping spaghetti upon a rental yacht inextricably anchored to the sea.
…Except for a fine from Groupon's sea craft vendor for staining the seat of their premiere yacht with black squid mucus.
Now, Chicken Milanese will only order breaded chicken on a plate from his favorite café in New Jersey to weigh down a cat's cradle of carbs that might slither away if left unattended. He denies extra sauce, avoids spherical meat, and tucks his napkin in his collar like a bib.
Even when secluded to the dining room's furthermost table, Chicken Milanese never truly dines alone with the spirit of his mother forever riding on his deflated derrière.