slow dinners, part two

At our second fancy meal, two nights later (we enjoyed eating kebabs from Ararat Bistro and feeding capsicum-laced flatbread to particularly aggressive sparrows in the interim), catching up with and/or getting to know those colleagues made up most of three hours of mealtime conversation. The wine came from a diner’s personal cellar, and the octopus that la Antica Osteria del Porto served was the best textured and most flavorful I’ve ever eaten, but we really didn’t say much about the meal in front of us.

Not that food didn’t come up: Serden’s dietary restrictions, which added a shellfish allergy to taboos against alcohol and pork, punctuated the service with hilarity. Serden compressed the pork and shellfish issues into a blanket, “I’m vegetarian.” The waiter’s response began with a sneered, “Vegetariano?!” followed by a none-too-graceful segue into stalking off muttering about an insalata mista. The second plate was a risotto with chanterelles and chardonnay, which prompted further explanation, and what looked distinctly like eye-rolling on the waiter’s part. We congratulated Serden, though, on conveying more meaning in those few phases of broken Italian than we’d been able to get across to anyone in four days. It earned him a cheese plate.

Bill, who is originally from near San Diego, was happy to discuss varieties of Mexican food with J-P and me, including the time he peeked into the refuse of the taquería he favored as a teenager and rather wished he hadn’t. But since neither dogs nor horses have souls, what’s the difference, and did we think we would try any horse while we were in Switzerland? (For lunch on our hike out of Locarno, we chose beef jerky “American snack” instead of the supermarket’s unfortunately named “Horse Chips.” In the end, J-P tried horse, but I did not. He says he can see why they eat it.)


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