The Language of FOOD

Submitted into Contest #162 in response to: Start your story with someone looking at a restaurant menu.... view prompt





“You do this every time we go out to dinner, rush, rush, rush. No wonder you get indigestion. I have only just started to read the menu. ”

“I cannot wait for the day we find a restaurant with only two items on the menu and one is marked ‘not available tonight’. You are unbelievable, the time you take to decide. Just once make a decision before I die of starvation. I swear it will happen one night Julie.”

“What, Mordecai Jenson die of starvation? Have you looked in a mirror lately? You take up twice the space on earth normally allocated to most people. That is not a result of your consumption of starvation rations. What is vichyssoise, it’s on the starters menu? A lot of the dishes are in French.”

“Considering this is a French restaurant I do not find that very surprising. Vichyssoise is a cold soup. Are you starting with it?”

“No, I just want to know what it is. What sort of soup?”

“I told you. It’s a cold soup.”

“Yes I understood that part. What is in it? Why is it cold anyway, stove not working in the kitchen tonight?”

“Several soups are served cold, this is one of them. I think it is chicken with onions, potatoes, leek and cream. Are you going to try it?”

“You mean they cook all those ingredients, presumably by using heat, then let it go cold before serving it? That makes no sense. Why not use cold water to start with and call it ‘cold chicken soup’?”

“It’s a French soup.”

“Oh. Yes, that would explain it.”

“Do you really need to know? Are any other soups on the menu you need me to tell you what is in them?”

“No, they don’t mention any others. I would probably have French Onion Soup if that was there. At least they serve that one hot. What are some of the other cold soups?”

“You mean the other ones that are not on the menu? Other than Gazpatchio I have no idea, and it doesn’t matter. Please concentrate on what you can order, specifically try sticking to something that is on the menu.”

“Most French restaurants have snails on the menu. This one only has escargot in garlic butter as an entre. What is an escargot anyway?”

“Jesus wept. It is French for snail. Is that going to be your entre?”

“No, I was just wondering why a French restaurant didn`t have snails. Isn’t Bouillabaisse a French soup?”

“Yes. It is a fish soup. You wouldn’t like it even if it was on the menu. One by one we are finding what you are not going to order. Is there any danger of you actually finding something you will order?”

“I’m thinking a salad might be nice, served cold of course.”

“Oh very funny! Which salad, Caesar or Nicoise?”

“I just want a salad. What is the difference?”

“One is French the other I believe is American.”

“Mordecai, are you deliberately being obtuse? Which is which?”

“The Nicoise comes from Nice, so it is French. I seem to remember the Caesar salad first came from Mexico. Choose one.”

”What has Julius Caesar got to do with Mexico for God sake? Mexico wasn’t even invented in his day.”

“You don’t invent a country, you discover it. Besides the salad was invented by an Italian living in Mexico. It has nothing to do with Julius Caesar.”

“Are you sure ‘invent’ is the right word for making up a salad? It doesn’t sound right to me. Discover may be correct for a country, you can hardly discover a salad can you. Oh look there in the distance, a new country. Isn’t that a new salad on the beach? There must be another word. If you know that sort of trivia you must know what is in each one regardless of who first made it up. You know what I like. Which one will have things I like?”

“You being so choosy with food does make it difficult to decide. Both have lettuce, olive oil, tomatoes and boiled egg. Some restaurants put some fishy stuff, like anchovies, in the Caesar, others use chicken.”

“I’m only interested in what this restaurant does, not what others do. Ask the waiter if they use anchovies or chicken."

“Will I order it for you if they don’t use anchovies?”

“I will decide when I know. What are you having?”

“The Coconut Tempura Prawns sounds good as a main, with seared scallops for the entre.”

“You had exactly the same the last time we came here. You were up half the night with heartburn. You blamed the coconut.  I think it was the Sticky Date pudding you had for sweets. I warned you didn’t I, but oh no, you just had to have it didn’t you?”

“That was some time ago, I am much healthier now.”

“What you are Mordecai is much fatter now. I suggest you have a main and an entre or entre and sweets, not three courses. My wine glass is empty, where is the waiter?”

“Excuse me Waiter, my wife would like to know if you use anchovies in the Caesar salad.”

“Yes sir we do. Of course you can have it with chicken if you prefer.”

“What I would like to know is why do you put anchovies in a salad if no one likes them?”

“We have quite a few clients who do like them Madam.”

“I don’t know any. Not one of my friends likes anchovies. What about you Mordecai, do you know anyone who can truly say they like those smelly anchovies?”

“Now you mention it, no, off hand I can’t think of one.”

“There you are. You can take that information back to your chef.”

“I will mention it. Can we get back to the order?”

“Is your Nicoise salad authentic from Nice in France or do you make it here?”

“Every day made fresh here madam.”

“No anchovies?”

“Not one. So one Nicoise salad for you Madam?”

“No, I think I will have what Mordecai is having, the salads sound decidedly risky. My husband was up all night with heartburn the last time he had a salad here.”

“You said it was the Sticky Date pudding, I don’t think I had a salad.”

“Pardon for interrupting Sir, but could we get back to the order? I think you were at last about to divulge your choices.”

“Was I? Oh OK, Seared scallops entre, Coconut Tempura Prawn main, No sweets. Another bottle of the Pinot Gris will be appreciated.”

“Any garlic or parmesan bread to start?”

“You don’t mention them on the menu. The only starter is the vichyssoise thing cold soup. Why don’t you serve hot soup?”

“The French tradition is to serve vichyssoise cold madam, we try to follow tradition. As remarkable as that seems, you are in a French restaurant.”

“However young man, we are not in France. The tradition here is to serve soup hot.”

“It is like any gazpatcheo which is served cold. I suppose we could heat it up if you prefer.  Most unusual I must say.”

“Serving soup hot is not unusual, you got that wrong. Wine cold, soup hot, time tested methods used in this country. Aren’t they Mordecai?”

“I think Julie has you there, traditions differ from country to country. Soup served hot is standard here.”

“Quite so. Would you like one of our breads as a starter?”

“Hot or cold? Sorry, I had to ask. No, we have made our decision haven’t we Julie? Perhaps next time for the bread.”

“Just so I am sure of your decision Sir, it is two seared scallop entre , served hot, followed by two Coconut Tempura Prawns. I assume you want them hot as well. No sweets or bread as a starter.”

“In this country no one, not even children, have sweets as a starter. Is that another French tradition? I believe Americans have their salad first, even with smelly anchovies. Just bring the wine please Waiter.”

September 06, 2022 01:52

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