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Apparently asking for “extra protein” with pasta is an irritating thing to do.  

Maria Yagoda
July 25, 2017

The trope of the sneaker-wearing, fanny pack-toting American tourist is a tired one. What sets American travelers apart has more to do with how they carry themselves than with the selfie sticks they carry. We spoke with a handful of servers from around the world to learn more about our most annoying behaviors in bars, restaurants and cafés.

1. Eating at 6:00 p.m.

“Americans come in to eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m., when people are still basically eating lunch,” a Rome waiter told me. “We jokingly say, ‘Mi fa salire il fascismo.’” (Loose translation: “They are driving me to fascism.”)

2. Demanding extra protein.

The same Rome waiter told me his biggest pet peeve is when Americans “ask for protein with their pasta,” like adding chicken to linguine. “We politely say ‘no,’ that it would be sacrilegio,” he said.

3. Drinking beer when beer is not appropriate.

A woman who conducts guided pintxos tours through San Sebastián, Spain told me that Americans will often reject her suggested food and wine pairings and opt for beer, instead. When they do drink the local wine, they can’t stop comparing it to wines in America.

“They compare their Californian wine with ours all the time, and it’s so frustrating,” she said. “They think they know about wine, but they don’t know the difference between crianza and reserva.

4. Drinking for drinking’s sake.

“They don’t eat and drink like we do,” the San Sebastián tour guide said. “Most of the times they just drink and drink and drink.”

Conversely, a French bartender agreed that Americans tend to drink more, but she said this didn’t bother her. “They definitely get drunker,” she said. “Weirdly they only seem to drink red wine. Give them red wine, and they are happy.”

5. Slaughtering pronunciation.

A server who has worked in restaurants throughout Italy knows this is nitpicking, but he gets annoyed when people act like they speak fluently.

“This may a be much, but it particularly bothers me when one person in a group thinks they know a little more Italian than the others and pronounces the names of dishes with a pseudo-Italian flare but absolutely slaughters the pronunciation,” he said. “I can’t help but pretend I didn’t know what they said to make them look bad.”

6. Correcting pronunciation.

A Spanish server said, “One of the things, I found many times is that instead of appreciating people speak to them in English, they correct the pronunciation. They act with superiority. It’s a pity they don’t try to speak Spanish more or get more modest about the fact people should not speak English everywhere to them. It happened to me few times, and I consider my English to be better than average.”

7. Mixing up cultures.

Restaurant workers in Mexico, Spain and elsewhere in Latin America told me they get annoyed when Americans mix up their cultures with very different ones: for example, assuming a tapas dish would be readily available in Mexico, or that guacamole would be a staple in Spain.

8. Not caring.

“They have no clue about our history, and they are not very curious,” a woman who’s worked across Europe told me. “But the British can be worse.”