A few years ago, my wife introduced me to a term I’d probably heard before, but did not quite understand: amuse-bouche. She introduced the term to me as we sat in a Mexican restaurant and were served a very nice snack before we had even seen the menu. It was a first for me; well, a first in a Mexican restaurant.
When I learned the phrase for that little surprise, a term that referred to a complimentary bite-sized hors d’œuvre, I equated the phrase roughly with another term, lagniappe, which arose, as I understand it, from a Louisiana French bastardization of an American Spanish term, la ñapa. La ñapa is, like lagniappe, a little something extra or a bonus.
While amuse-bouche is a term whose usage is, as far as I know, limited to food, I can imagine (rightly or wrongly) that lagniappe may have at one time (and perhaps still does) referred to precisely the same thing. Considering that lagniappe is a term I always associate with New Orleans and, especially, with Mardi Gras, and considering Mardi Gras is a heavily focused on food and drink, it just makes sense. But this is just supposition; I haven’t researched it and don’t plan to for the moment.
Now that the old pickup has gone on to greener pastures, I’m taking the Camry in to another garage this morning; I’m trying a different Toyota dealership. I’m no longer quite as enamored as I once was with my trusted mechanic, because the clunking noises in the front end have never really been “fixed” despite the expenditure of a small boatload of money on the car. I tried another Toyota dealer, figuring their mechanics have been trained to find and fix Toyota problems; after a quick test-drive, that dealership said I needed new parts that I just had replaced, PLUS I needed a bunch of other stuff…for only $4950, my front suspension would be as good as new! Ha!
So, I’m trying another place. I drop the beast off at 7:00 a.m. and they promise to give me a ride home. It will be up to me to make my way back later in the day (or whenever it’s fixed). Fortunately, there’s a bus route near my house that will take me to within half a mile of the dealership, so getting back won’t be too much of a problem. I just hope the Toyota mechanic doesn’t have any other “little extras” to tell me about, beyond the suspension issues. And I hope to have the car fixed, once and for all, without laying out the cost of a late model replacement.
There are many words I could use to describe my experiences with auto mechanics of late, but amuse-bouche and lagniappe aren’t among them.