1°/ Everything starts with an idea…
“Hello, brother, I just had an idea.”
The first buds of this idea were beginning to blossom when I said these words to my brother.
I was trying to contain myself so as not to shout from the rooftops that I had come up with an idea that (from my point of view) could have an impact on the world of gastronomy worldwide!
For the time being it had to remain a secret, a whisper.
But what is this idea?
Like many great stories, it all started as a misadventure.
I’ve been living in Mayotte for a few years now, an island with a lagoon and a magnificent flora and fauna.
Mayotte has the power to attract a lot of people and at the same time to pack up other people, it all depends on what state of mind you are in when you go there.
But it is enough to live in the North or in the South, in a quiet village a few meters from the beaches, between two pike (small local restaurants) and some Doukabés (small shops nearby), to make your stay in the island, a pleasant stopover.
I have been teaching Technology at the college for 4 years now and every time I went on holiday, my wife and I felt the need to travel.
This year (2016) we plan to go to Portugal for a few weeks, where my wife’s grandmother lives.
My friends are already warning me: “There you will enjoy yourself”, “Portuguese food is delicious, EVERYTHING IS GOOD! »
It is with these words but especially with these images below in mind that I find myself a few weeks later in Porto, a city in portugal.
The first few days confirm what my friends told me.
Indeed, the Portuguese cuisine of the grandmother is remarkable, and when you venture into the neighbourhood bakeries, the taste of the small almond pastries, and other Portuguese pastries, provokes in me a culinary satisfaction that really makes me appreciate the beginning of my stay.
The following days we often go to the restaurant with my in-laws.
But I have a peculiarity.
Being of a curious nature and often having the dread of making the wrong choices in restaurants, I have developed over the years a technique that prevents me from regretting my choices in my food orders.
It all depends on one word: Observation.
I always take time to order a dish!
Even if the waiter comes back twice when he is too fast to order.
Finally, I rarely make mistakes because I often observe (from the corner of my eye) the other customers tasting their dishes. And depending on how they look and how quickly they finish their meal, I try to choose the dish that will make me happy, and it is only exceptionally that I am disappointed with the meal I ordered.
However this technique has its limits…
- These limitations are felt when one is at the table with several friends (and cannot afford to take one’s time to ” Observation),
- And when you’re abroad because it’s very complicated to let a waiter know that you want the same dish from the customer in front of you, when that customer doesn’t speak the same language as you do.
So on each of my culinary trips abroad I found myself bewildered by a menu in a different language than mine, with no concrete visibility of the dishes on offer.
And it was after a double culinary adventure in Portugal that I got fed up!
I’ll bring them back to you:
It was early evening, and I was in the company of my in-laws and my wife.
After a long walk through the colourful streets, with the beautiful paving stones of Lisbon, we decided to look for a restaurant where we could all enjoy Portuguese gastronomy.
And here we were in a very touristy street, where many restaurateurs call from the shepherd to the shepherdess so that a maximum number of customers come to fill their establishment.
How to choose a good restaurant?
I know that there are plenty of sites and “apps” available to help us choose good restaurants, but here we are, the establishments offered on these apps are several kilometres away and we are not ready to go back to our parked cars at a good quarter of an hour’s walk.
That day, I said to myself, it’s a shame we can’t have a visibility of the specialties offered by the restaurants around us, it would have helped us make a choice and find what we’re looking for more easily. But hey… We have to trust our instincts and choose a good restaurant as soon as possible because we are all hungry!
Finally we find a Portuguese restaurant, there are a few customers that are not yet served, and the front of the restaurant is well decorated and highlights the Mediterranean gastronomy.
My choice has to be made, and I don’t want to be disappointed.
Once again I say to myself, it’s a pity that you can’t have a clear idea of the texture and consistency of the dishes on offer (apart from the ingredients listed on the menu), but then again, you have to trust your instincts.
I’m hungry, I’m a bit stressed because I know my wife will ask me to choose, quickly… so I decide to order the MOST EXPENSIVE dish on the menu!
Logically it is also supposed to be the best in terms of taste…
I’ve seen shrimp and prawns as ingredients and I generally enjoy these shellfish.
The waiter places the order, then it’s waiting.
Our dishes take a little time to arrive, even if there are not many of us.
(Logically this is a sign that the products served are of good quality and are not reheated).
Then finally, it is the delivery we see our dishes arrived!
Visually I am not disappointed.
I’m even proud of my choice and I don’t hide it from my table neighbours! I decide to take a picture with my smartphone.
I have at my disposal a small pot well filled.
My eyes already devour the dish before I even taste it.
Here is the dish :
I prepare my cutlery (and my stomach), fill my plate with Rice & Potato, I marry them with the sauce of the dish, and I’m FINALLY getting ready to taste and enjoy my meal!
First bite… Nothing happens in the mouth.
I may have taken a part of the dish that is not seasoned, so I start the experience again.
But once again no explosion of flavors, and I feel no aroma… (and no, I didn’t have the Covid-19 that didn’t exist at that time)
I tell myself that I must have caught a cold, that maybe I have a cold… So I taste my wife’s dish, it’s delicious! I don’t have any taste problems.
This time I’ll try it a third time to be sure of my verdict…
The dish is FADE, it has NO TASTE! And even after adding salt and pepper the meal remains tasteless, the tasteless broth is just saltier!
I let my wife and in-laws taste it, they confirm my verdict.
But my disappointment culminates at its peak when I share all this with the restaurant owner who, more upset than I am, replies that it is all for nothing, and that he has to deal with other orders!
At that moment I said to myself: if I had known I would have ordered something else (and especially not the most expensive dish)!
The second experience…
However, it was the day after this first adventure, following another experience (a little less tragic, but just as distressing from a culinary point of view) that the substance of my idea became clear to me.
This time we meet in the famous Mall Colombo in Lisbon, (the largest shopping mall in Portugal), to satisfy the girls’ irrepressible desire to go shopping.
At noon, to my delight, we discover the top floor of the mall.
An entire floor dedicated to catering! There is something for everyone, and for all tastes!
Fast-Food, Local Dishes, Italian Dishes, Asian Kitchens… Everyone can order a dish at the counter of any restaurant, and find themselves on the common tables provided for eating with friends.
Wishing not to repeat the same experience of the previous evening, I practice my technique, “Observation”.
And I see an Asian restaurant, (I really like sweet and sour) that prepares well stocked dishes that seem to be copious.
While I’m standing in line, I notice a customer coming out of the line with a noodle dish that looks delicious, and there are several of us ogling the dish!
The dish is here
But guess what happens next…
This time the taste of the dish was much too spicy!
It felt like an entire bottle of sweet and sour sauce had spilled into it!
But not just mine! I turned around to observe the first person who had ordered the noodles… Practically nothing had been touched on his plate, the dish was almost intact.
Then I turned to the other three unfortunate people who had made the same choice as me.
Their meal was barely touched!
I’m disgusted, I’ve paid for yet another dish for nothing, I’m falling back on my wife’s pizza slices…
After these incidents, two weeks passed, and I had to prepare my new courses for the new school year.
As I told you, I’m a technology teacher in Mayotte.
At the beginning of each year I teach my new students the definition of Technology, so that they realize the value of this subject.
Do you know it?
Technology is the subject that studies the needs of men to find technical solutions to these needs.
Example: The human being needs to sit down. Solution? The chair. The human being needs to move quickly. Solution? Cars, motorbikes etc…
But, thinking back on the unfortunate culinary experiences I had during my holidays, I ask myself: How can we be sure to make the right ordering choices every time we go to a restaurant? And in real time?
What solution is there?
I look on the internet… there is no solution to this particular problem.
Then I have to create there!
From 10:00 pm to 2:30 am I decide to put in writing everything that goes through my mind and that will constitute a draft of the first specifications of this project.
Here it is in pdf format, (it has obviously evolved a lot over the weeks) :1st CDC JUDGEFOOD (in french)1er-CDC-JUDGEFOOD
The next day I call my brother and tell him the idea. He will become my first partner…