Become a Fan
Finishing our drinks, we rose and made our way to the dining room. As we walked I saw the Headwaiter observing our approach. Just before we reached the doors he opened them with a flourish, then turned and led us to our table.
We decided to start with an ‘entree’, and both chose slivers of pale trout lying on a bed of chopped tomatoes. A simple but perfect beginning for two people who did not have enormous capacity, yet enjoyed good food.
It has always intrigued me that an ‘entree’ is in fact the third course of a complete meal. But I do agree with the implied suggestion that a meal should be a love affair, that the first three courses, if one can manage it, should be regarded as the preliminaries to the ultimate pleasure of the main course.
I took a crusty roll offered to me from a silver tray. Breaking it with my fingers produced a shower of crumbs on the white tablecloth. At some stage these were brushed away, but I have only a vague recollection of that being done. The waiter service was highly efficient, performed as if by shadows made by the late evening sun still shining through the long windows.
The superb wine was tasted first in a ritual I always enjoy watching, and our glasses refilled as the meal progressed by an attentive but almost invisible waiter, until the last drop was poured from the bottle.
For our main course we chose duck. It arrived cooked in some magical way I cannot begin to describe, because I do not know. But it lay on our plates in many narrow slices looking extremely appetising. We each had a side plate holding a selection of vegetables. New potatoes were served separately from a silver platter.
As we ate we talked, my friend and I, of many things. We observed the other diners. No one whispered. But voices did not carry or intrude. Except when with deliberation we took stock of those around us, it was easy to pretend we were the only inhabitants of this tranquil world we had entered.
With bemused surprise we gradually realised there was nothing left to eat. Our plates were empty. The food had been so easy to eat, so faultlessly prepared, we had not selected vegetables from the side plates, we had eaten every morsel.
My fantasies tend to give life and substance to many things, so that now, as we laid our knives and forks to rest, I imagined how such utensils might become tired as remorselessly they are used to serve a pagan god. And if they could speak, the tales they could tell. How that fork might pierce an ego. And how that knife might wound.
But tonight they had not been clutched in heavy hands, nor held so lightly they could be afraid they might fall. Tonight they had been happy participants of a romance between the food on our plates, and lips receiving each offering with unashamed pleasure. And as at last they lay still, shared with us the afterglow of a love requited.
Next: Part Three : Complete Satisfaction