Feast of Famine Page 3


Feast of Famine - Page 3


A proper waiter for a feast

The sounds of eating filled the hall as the guests accepted plates of soup and baskets of bread, and the waiters served wines from Italy, Spain and Chile, in glassware from France, cut in a simple style but with a stem that bit into the fingers.

Conversation was minimal. Everyone chewed noisily, with mouths open; they slurped and sighed and picked crumbs from their laps. Their teeth smacked against their gums as they cleared debris from the recesses of their mouths. The beef began to dwindle as people requested seconds. The cow's bones emerged, shreds of mud-coloured meat clinging to the ribs.

The server took an ax and severed the cow's half-head from its half-neck, neatly at the second vertebra, and set it on a platter for the waiters to take away. The waiters were serving dollops of vegetables to complement the beef: okra, pickled beets of a grape-jelly purple, and a mixture of green peas and kernel corn in a thin, buttery sauce. The edge having been taken off their hunger, then people began to converse, their panic to eat now abated; they took smaller bites, laughing with their mouths full, revealing the chewed, fluffy, pan-roasted potatoes.

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