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When Your Meal Watches You Eat

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I was once in a reasonably high-toned Chinese restaurant. Unusually for me, I ordered a fish dish (I usually reserve such for seafood restaurants). I don’t remember why, but I’d guess the description on the menu must have been particularly succulent.

 

The waiter took my order and left. However, he returned within a minute, and I assumed I was going to be told there was none left. It has happened before. However, he leaned closer and, in a low voice, informed me that the fish was served with its head attached. He asked if this would cause me any problems, as some customers had been troubled by the fact and complained. Although I was not used to this method, it was not a problem. I like trying different things. So, away he went.

 

I did seem to have to wait quite awhile, but this doesn’t bother me, either. I enjoy restaurants so much, the experience of the place is as interesting to me as going to a theatre. Thus I have toyed with owning a restaurant, but I do know how much work and headache it really is. So I am just as content to sit and watch.

 

And watch I did when I saw the waiter finally come in my direction. And I had some inkling as to why some previous customers might have felt discomfort.

 

The whole fish (I would say trout-sized if not a bit larger), head and all, was propped upright on a type of wooden trestle in the middle of a platter. The waiter carried it outstretched before him through the restaurant. It was shaped with a bit of a curve, as if swimming upstream. The trestle was on a bed of vegetables. The fish had a light, leafy garnish on it.

 

It was cooked to perfection and tasted delicious. But – yeh – the upright head did seem to stare at me.

Getting Published In New York In The Old Days

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Over The Transom

My friend Google tells me that “over the transom” is still a viable term. In this case it refers to a manuscript accepted by an editor submitted cold – perhaps even from the dreaded slush pile.

At any rate, my manuscript for A LOST TALE was accepted “over the transom”, and I was asked to New York to meet the editor. Although I had experienced and appreciated Montréal, Toronto, London, Berlin and other large cities by that time, I had not been to New York. Many events of that trip are memorable, but none more than my “lunch” with the editor.

The editor took me to a dark and trendy place for a late lunch. There were not many people there and, restaurant fiend though I am, the food was not my top priority. Discussion of “the work” and proposed changes was more on the menu for me.

As I sit across the table from my editor, I can not help but notice a man seated by himself beside the wall. He is tieless and shirtless and, though the lighting is dim, what there is reflects from his naked skin. He sits with a beverage and seems to hum to himself.

My editor is discussing both the menu and some confusion he perceives at the beginning of my novel. I note items on the menu unknown to me and am doubly confused.

The shirtless man at the other table increases the volume of his humming and eventually a waiter goes to him and has words. The shirtless man has words back, but they sound like gibberish. At my table the editor suggests something from the menu and I happily comply. There is wine.

Whilst I eat and listen to suggestions, the shirtless man is spoken to by two other waiters. As I (wisely) restrict myself to a second glass of wine, two uniformed policemen enter the restaurant and approach the shirtless man, whose gibberish had increased even more in volume. In the course of a few minutes three other uniformed police officers – one of them female  – arrive on the scene. They are now ranged around the shirtless man and his table. I finally tell my editor what is happening behind him and why I am not concentrating fully upon his suggestions. He turns around.

Two of the officers remove the table from in front of the shirtless man. Two others, one on each side of him, haul him to his feet. It is then that we see his shirtless state continues all the way to his naked feet. The female officer takes the tablecloth from the table and drapes it around him. The four male officers form a circle around the naked, shrouded man uttering his gibberish, and hustle him from the restaurant. The female officer picks up what appears to be a pile of clothes from beneath the table, and a pair of roller skates, and follows them.

I say to my editor that I have never seen anything like that.

My editor concurs.

Nothing Finer Than A Diner / Cash Only

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I’ve lived long enough that all of my favourite restaurants are gone except two. Don’t worry, I still manage to eat out – I adapt.

Of those two, one is the long-lasting Ardmore Tea Room. And if I didn’t enjoy this place enough already, when I dined there yesterday I was asked “Would you like fried onions on your hash browns?”  I was tempted to answer “Is The Pope Argentinian?” but, instead, I just gleefully said “Yes!” Gleeful – in part – because they were accompanying Eggs Benedict. {You can note a bit of food = religion theme.}                                                     

As far as I know the Ardmore has been in the same location, and has been there for decades. It opens at 5:00 AM and closes at 8:00 PM. You don’t open this early in the morning if you don’t get steady customers. People on their way to work, and people coming home from work. A restaurant of the people, it is obvious.

The seating is at booths, and I have never been there when at least half of the booths were not occupied. The age range of the diners covers the decades, and I’d guess their economic backgrounds are just as diverse. I’ve never seen anyone encouraged to depart as soon as the check was paid, and as far as I know the coffee is bottomless.

By the way – the food is great!

There is an array of diner staples, plus dinner selections ranging from lasagna to chipolte chicken wraps. You can get shakes and sundaes. And rice pudding.

$Cash$ only – no credit cards.

As I sat over my third coffee and empty plate, listening to the murmur of many conversations and bursts of laughter, I finally realized what I had noticed during my meal. Noticed by its absence, so it took a while to register.

Not one person was using their cell phone.

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Getting Published In New York

Over The Transom

My friend Google tells me that “over the transom” is still a viable term. In this case it refers to a manuscript accepted by an editor submitted cold – perhaps even from the dreaded slush pile. At any rate, my manuscript for A LOST TALE was accepted “over the transom”, and I was asked to New York to meet the editor.

Although I had experienced and appreciated Montréal, Toronto, London, Berlin and other large cities by that time, I had not been to New York. Many events of that trip are memorable, but none more than my “lunch” with the editor. The editor took me to some dark and trendy place for a late lunch. There were not many people there and, restaurant fiend though I am, the food was not my top priority. Discussion of “the work” and proposed changes was more on the menu for me.

However, as I sit across the table from my editor, I can not help but notice a man seated by himself beside the wall. He is tieless and shirtless and, though the lighting is dim, what there is reflects from his naked skin. He sits with a beverage and seems to hum to himself. My editor is discussing both the menu and some confusion he perceives at the beginning of my novel. I note items on the menu unknown to me and am doubly confused.

The shirtless man at the other table increases the volume of his humming and eventually a waiter goes to him and has words. The shirtless man has words back, but they sound like gibberish. At my table the editor suggests something from the menu and I happily comply. There is wine. Whilst I eat and listen to suggestions, the shirtless man is spoken to by two other waiters. As I (wisely) restrict myself to a second glass of wine, two uniformed policemen enter the restaurant and approach the shirtless man, whose gibberish had increased even more in volume.

In the course of a few minutes three other uniformed police officers – one of them female  – arrive on the scene. They are now ranged around the shirtless man and his table. I finally tell my editor what is happening behind him and why I am not concentrating fully upon his suggestions. He turns around. Two of the officers remove the table from in front of the shirtless man. Two others, one on each side of him, haul him to his feet. It is then that we see his shirtless state continues all the way to his naked feet.

The female officer takes the tablecloth from the table and drapes it around him. The four male officers form a circle around the naked, shrouded man uttering his gibberish, and hustle him from the restaurant. The female officer picks up what appears to be a pile of clothes from beneath the table, and a pair of roller skates, and follows them.

I say to my editor that I have never seen anything like that.

My editor concurs.

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