My attempts to speak French were barely successful. Listening to a reply, less so.
Forced inside by foul and unseasonable weather at the end of April, we found a restaurant offering Le Menu – three courses and a ¼ liter of wine – for 12 euros. We weren’t hungry but we were cold and wet and fed up.
Of the four choices for first course, two were indecipherable to us, a third choice was charcuterie which we’d seen – plates piled high with salad stuff, salami, sausage and cured meats. We’d just settled on the fourth option of ham, mozzarella and tomato when the waiter appeared to take our order.
Main course choices were vague – dish of the day, meat of the day, fish of the day. I took what I thought was my only course (course! haha) and asked for details of the meat of the day, thinking I could understand a reply of chicken, pork, lamb or beef.
“Blah, blah, veau.”
“I think he said veal.” It wouldn’t have been my first choice but is seemed preferable to some horrors that could be served up – snails, tripe, squid, frog’s legs.
I got the nod from Jimmy and ordered, “Deux veau, s’il vous plait.”
It arrived looking and smelling pleasantly char grilled and was nestled amongst a pile of pommes frites, French fries, the real thing.
I popped the first bite of veal in my mouth and said, “Ooo lovely!” Then the flavor hit me. Oh yuk! Keeping a blank expression on my face, I looked across the table to see Jimmy devouring his fries. I managed to swallow and waited.
He didn‘t realize he was being observed. He cut the first bite of meat and chewed while I watched his features screw up to express what I’d just been feeling. “It’s liver! Arrrrrgh!”
Rather too late, I could see the “Meat of the Day” on the chalkboard at the opposite end of the dining room. It said Foie de Veau. Veau was all I had heard from the rapid-fire French of the waiter. I hadn’t heard Foie de. Liver of. Calf’s liver. Je ne l’aime pas. I don’t like it.
Fortunately our first course had been as enormous as the plates of charcuterie we’d avoided and there were two big scoops of ice cream for dessert.
And frankly, after half a liter of wine between us at midday we didn’t really care very much about what we were eating.