Left out of my previous post on our holiday trip was the quintessentially American experience of dining at the Olive Garden on the Saturday we arrived. I am pretty sure that this was Laura's and my second time at the OG, but the first time was so long ago that I don't remember the exact circumstances and Laura is beginning to wonder if there is a second family somewhere.
Before you get all excited about how this is going to be some East Coast elite takedown of a faux Italian joint that we wouldn't normally go near unless we were paid but we're in far suburban Kansas City so what are you going to do, get comfy 'cause HERE WE GO!!!
Just kidding. We had a pleasant meal, the kids' options were good (yeah, I'm looking at you, KC Airport Sports Bar in Terminal A with NO KIDS MEALS) and the wine was delicious, once the server found someone of sufficient age to pour it.* (This guy, on the other hand, questions the hard-sell of wine at an Italian (style) restaurant. Go figure. Although it was kind of odd to be greeted by a server carrying a bottle of wine.)
Do not try to pass off spaghetti as angel hair. Laura and I agreed that it's a good call given the tendency of angel hair to come out in a single clump, but still.
Do not serve a platter of ziti in a pink tomato/cheese sauce entirely lacking in either a thick layer of bubbly melted cheese on top or the proper crockery in which to serve it and call it "Al Forno." Sticking it in the oven to get it piping hot does not count.
Both of these elicited from us a reaction that viewers of Chopped would recognize: Don't advertise the item as [item name] and then serve something that is not [item name].
For a measured take on Olive Garden's authenticity, read this, then Google "Measured take on Olive Garden's authenticity" 'cause boy howdy is that not it.
*The checkout kid at the Price Chopper also had to run down someone to handle the beer purchase by way of scrutinizing me to see if I looked over 40, otherwise I would get carded. To cut to the chase: dammit.