Jean-S├ębastien Caux

On anchovies and basic mathematics

Posted on 2021-02-23   Anecdotes

Back when I was a graduate student in Oxford, life was pretty cool and filled with social activities and outings with friends.

Being on a student budget meant that high-class outings were of the kind "nice pizza in a nice pizza restaurant". So here I am with a couple of friends, sitting one evening in one of Oxford's iconic pizza parlours.

Now one of the things you really need to know about me is that I have a predilection for anchovies. I don't know why, something deep in my past perhaps, but that's just the way it is.

I thus order a kind of pizza with anchovies in the ingredients list, but ask for extra anchovies. After clarifying that yes, I knew there were already anchovies on the basic pizza, and yes, I did indeed want to have extra anchovies on top of that, the waiter seemed to get my intention.

When the pizza came, my heart sank at the dearth of anchovies. Before digging in, I ask the waiter to come over, and tell him:

me: Just to point something out: I had ordered that pizza with extra anchovies, but didn't get that, so I'm not going to pay for the extra anchovies I ordered.

The waiter looked a bit baffled but seemed to take my point in. A while later, he came back and said:

Waiter: I checked with the chef, and he said you needed to pay for the extra anchovies.
me: OK, then could I please talk to the chef?

When the chef showed up at my table, the conversation went approximately like this:

Chef: what is the problem?
me: I just want to make clear that I'm not going to pay for the extra anchovies.
Chef: Clients have to pay for what they order!
me: Look at the pizza: how many anchovies? One - two - three.
Chef: So? You still have to pay for the extras.
me: Well you either gave me anchovies with extra anchovy, or anchovy with extra anchovies, but you definitely did not give me anchovies with extra anchovies.

That settled the issue, and I didn't have to pay for my extra(s).