Feast of Famine Page 4


Feast of Famine - Page 4


The Master of Ceremonies rose

The flushing of toilets could be heard

When the sorbet arrived, many mistook it for dessert and thought the dinner was ending. But after the sorbet, which was pineapple and white grape, came eggs Florentine, with its spinach melting into the viscous flesh of the poached eggs. The guests picked bits of grapeskin the consistency of corneas from their teeth, using the toothpicks provided, and with the ice barely settled in their stomachs, commenced on the eggs. Soon their gastrointestinal tracts contracted, and people excused themselves, heading to the lavatories and powder rooms with bowels rumbling conversationally. The flushing of toilets was heard above the sound of the espresso machine.

As the waiters brought coffee, the master of ceremonies rose and greeted the guests, and thanked the hostess, who rose from her chair and bowed from the waist. The master then informed the guests that the sweet-and-sour was about to appear, and would they content themselves in camaraderie until the chef had things in order.

The kitchen was in pandemonium. Metal clashed: lids on lids; serving spoons were dropped into pots and on the tile floor, clattering against the baseboards. The deep fryers boiled over, spilling oil onto the burners, and flames burst into the air, singeing the sous-chefs' hands. The potboys cowered. The chef was florid. The sweet-and-sour caught fire, which, although dramatic, was not part of the plan; the chef seized the bottle of triple-x brandy and doused the flames with a splash of its contents. The sweet-and-sour exploded into a neon ball. The chef handed the residue to the potboys and told them to serve it up.

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