“What are we supposed to do with this?” I whispered.
“I dunno,” he whispered back.
I surveyed the room, looking for someone to copy. When in doubt, look about, right?
There was a large group of Americans by the big picture windows, some of whom had just arrived on the helipad. They were just getting seated, uncorking their hundred dollar bottles of wine.
Others, some clearly celebrating their anniversaries, were scattered throughout the room. There were a few empty tables that were filling up quickly. We were painfully under dressed.
We were the first to actually have placed our orders.
And the first to receive….this.
“She said there was asparagus in it.”
“Right, but how are we supposed to eat it?”
There was a creamy, soupy, green bit in the tiniest teacup I had ever seen. The handle curved gracefully down the side. There was a spoon. A very tiny spoon.
Was that for stirring or for eating?
It was clear we were in way over our heads. Having both been raised relatively poor in rural Southern United States, we had not been educated on the social niceties of advanced table etiquette.
I motioned the waitress over.
I motioned her closer so she could hear my whisper.
“I was wondering if you could tell me again what this is?”
“A creamed asparagus soup with pistachios and truffles and garlic and shallots and…” She was ticking off a rehearsed ingredient list in her mind. Suddenly she paused. “Is there a problem? A food allergy?”
“No. Nothing like that. What was that French sounding word you used when you first brought it?”
“Amuse bouche?” She rattled off quickly. Her accent was Eastern European, not Irish.
We were in Ireland. At a castle.
“Um, yes. Say that again? More slowly? I’m sorry.”
“The ah-muze-ay bu-shay.”
“Right!” I leaned in closer. All of that was a distraction, a smoke screen for the real question. “How do I eat it?”
“However you wish to eat it!” She looked surprised, perhaps a bit confused, as she stood back up. She looked down at me for a moment then was gone.
This is what I get for trying to pretend I am something I am not.
I tried the spoon but realized after a few tiny spoonfuls that that method was going to take forever. When no one was looking I tossed back the contents of the cup like a shot of whiskey, thinking that probably the best thing was just to get it over with.
Fortunately, after a glass of the Malbec I no longer cared too terribly much.
“How would you like that ostrich cooked?” The waitress was back, sweeping crumbs from the table into a bin using something that looked like a large, dull knife.
So that’s what that’s for?
“Uh. I’ve never had ostrich before,” I whispered. “How is it supposed to be cooked?” I pleaded with her with my eyes. Just help me, please?
“However you like it to be cooked.”
“Medium, then.” I took another long sip of wine.
It was awfully tasty. The ostrich. And the wine.
After dessert and coffee my husband leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Uh, hon? I don’t have my wallet.”
“You what?!?!?!!” My heart started beating out of my chest.
“I don’t have my wallet. I think I left it in the room. I am going to pretend to use the bathroom and run up to get it.”
I could just see him getting stopped and accused of bailing on the bill. Or worse, there was no wallet to be found and he would leave me there. I guess maybe we were OK if I stayed to serve as collateral? I could offer to wash dishes…
He made it, though.
We left a large tip.
We left as he helicopter party was just getting started on their main course. We went for a walk at dusk in the gardens, which were lovely. A drunk American businessman with a Rolex who was coming in after a long day playing golf (and drinking brandy) took our picture and dropped my camera.
So did we.