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being that i don’t speak a lick of portugese, the discovery of food rituals in lisbon was a learning experience. after a convoluted trek from the airport, our stomachs were ready for adventure, but alas it was our wallets that learned a valuable lesson. portugese restaurants customarily present you with an assortment of appetizers after you place your order, without any sort of confirmation.  depending on the venue, the plates range from a basic bread, cheese, and olive selection to what you see below, which included crab avocado salad, beef carpaccio, and octopus crudo.  my initial thought was “oh, how hospitable!”, but as the check arrived, a charge ranging anywhere from €5-€15 ($7-$20) unexpectedly appeared on the bill.  after incurring this surprise expense, we decided to press our luck by denying the appetizer service the following night (no whammies, no whammies).  big mistake– the looks we received from the server were approximate to those of insulting one’s mother or perhaps kicking a baby.  by the time we arrived at olivier our final night, we decided to avoid the guess-work and order the €38 prix-fixe, consisting of nine starters, entree, and sorbet in vodka.  the embedded five course starters would have set us back €12, and with entrees ranging from €18-€25, it was the frugal thing to do.  lesson learned: when in a foreign country, go big or go home.

nothing in life is free

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