He tried to say something at the start of the meal but every time he opened his mouth she slid in a forkful of Coal Baked Beetroot and Grilled Pepe Buche*. Isn’t it delicious? He didn’t know what Pepe or Buche was, but it looked like a well matured cheese and tasted like a late afternoon in the summer. When the dish was finished she started on the Grilled Calamari Salad with Lemon and Smoked Chilli Dressing he had ordered. It was like him: you knew what you were getting from its outward appearance.
Before the starters there had been wood-fired sourdough bread with olives, and virgin cold-pressed olive oil and a locally produced balsamic vinegar. He tried to say something when her mouth was full of bread, but she raised a hand to call the waiter. When the waiter asked what she wanted, she swallowed quickly and shouted: More bread, more bread.
The fish of the day was barracuda so he went for the safe option of Beef Fillet, Chimichurri and Green Beans. He didn’t know what Chimichurri could be but he wanted to be surprised. When his food arrived it turned out to be garlic sauce. It was a dish just like him: predictable even though you were expecting something else. She ordered the barracuda.
Eat. Eat. Enjoy. The head waiter interrupted just as he was about to say something to her.
There was only one dessert option, a Chocolate and Almond Torte. They ordered one to share. In between eating she had talked about her flower shop and her customers, he couldn’t find a way to interrupt. In between eating and talking she gulped the Klein Constantia Chardonnay he had ordered, she drank most of the bottle.
When the dessert arrived she was silenced. The Chocolate and Almond Torte sprinkled with cocoa rested on a rough white pottery plate. A twist of orange peel artfully rested on top of the slice. A smooth chocolate mousse dollop speckled with sugar glitter nestled next to the torte. The edge of the plate was ringed with hand-made chocolate sauce and an orange drizzle. It looked like Christmas morning.
This was his moment, Annie there is something I have been meaning to tell you…
Isn’t it wonderful, her face was alight as if she had just watched the Sydney Harbour New Year’s day fireworks live, all this, she said, and waved her hand around at the trees above their heads and at the purple mountains in the distance, and the chocolate torte on the table….isn’t it wonderful, I am so lucky, we’re so lucky. She reached across the table to hold his hand, I know what you are going to ask me, I am so excited, I’m so lucky… She leant back in her chair and tilted her face up to the sun which had just found a gap between the umbrellas.
He didn’t know how to interrupt her reverie.
She turned and smiled at him, we are going to have a summer wedding aren’t we? Oh a summer wedding how wonderful. We could have it here, couldn’t we? How exciting.’
He should have said something at the beginning of the meal.
* The descriptions of meals come from the menu of the Bistro at Klein Constantia, Cape Town with some added ideas. Photo by Celina Albertz on Unsplash