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Thursday, September 27, 2007
A Happy Story with Prawns
We randomly chose a restaurant near their hotel, a place called Il Mulino that looked pleasant but not overbearing. It seemed empty but, as we had no reservation, we had to wait a bit. The first thing we noticed was the waitstaff; they wore white tie and there were a lot of them (the waiters, I mean; each had only one white tie visible).
When we were seated and presented with menus the first thing we noticed were the prices, but as the syndicate was paying our shock quickly turned to joy. There followed a procession of waiters, each with one white tie and each bearing a different type of small appetizer thing. A tiny sausage, some kind of relishy stuff, a massive wheel of parmesan off which the waiter carefully picked some bits off for us, etc etc. At one point, just to show off, a waiter came by carrying a large tub of prawns and gave us their whole provenance, their life history, ages, hobbies, just kind of bragging about the prawns (we didn't get any, but they were very nice and seemed to be proud to be in their tub and who wouldn't be?).
So dinner passed like this in a four-hour blur. The restaurant had filled up quickly with well dressed people (though no one topped the white tie) and most of them looked like they were used to restaurants such as this with many of them ordering complicated meals that required several waiters to fix half the food at the table. More used to places with plenty of highchairs and crayons, I rubbernecked like a yokel. One man at the table next to us bore a very close resemblance to Ben Bernanke, it was either him or a Bernanke imitator, who are rife in DC.
By the end of the very excellent meal we were the last people there, and after dessert another waiter (who looked exactly like Prince Harry; I doubt he was, but I'm just sayin') brought us a complementary glass of grappa (raspberry infused no less) poured from this huge tank packed in ice. When we finally left half the staff escorted us outside, telling jokes in various languages all of which were really funny after that grappa and the previous bottle of wine and two beers. The editors poured me into a cab, pressed enough money into my hand to get home, and the next thing I remember I'm typing this.
So my plan is, I'm gonna rent a white tie tux, affect an accent, buy some small boxes of crayons and kids' menu type things with the puzzles and dot-to-dots on them, and sneak into Il Mulino and distribute them to the diners when no one's looking, like between the appetizers and the travelling prawn show. Who's with me on this?