Saturday, 8 September 2012

Do You Want Grated Cheese With That?

It was a warm summer evening about fifteen years ago and Lenox had decided to take two new employees out to dinner. The couple evidently came from a deprived background, wore matching outfits and spoke a rather hard to understand English.
We arrived at the particular restaurant, a smart looking place with a terrace run by a Spanish couple. The husband is a great cook; although rather keen on fancy and peculiar combinations – the kind of food that no one in their right mind would ever think of preparing at home. The owners seated us and gave us our menus in Spanish and withdrew. We had never been there before (although we slightly knew the owners) and cast our eyes over the various peculiar dishes available. I forget now, but the simplest one was along the lines of lark’s breast stuffed with an olive. The faces of our guests fell as we translated the choices and it became clear they were more at home with the meat and two veg school of refection. To save ourselves from further discomfort, we launched into a melodrama of a forgotten child and an emergency with the baby sitter, all duly translated to Rocío, the owner’s wife; and with that, we left for the MacDonald’s around the corner.
Oddly, far from remaining under our wing, these days they eat lobster.
Two points more about this story. The first is that Rocío’s command of English is as good as or better than my own. The second is that our guests soon picked up a few pointers about expatriate life in Spain and shortly after, relieved us of a great deal of money.