Feast of Famine Page 5


Feast of Famine - Page 5

Speakers lofty and elegant

The guests were full, but the food continued. A green salad arrived, with crescent moons of celery and shards of sweet pepper, and outer leaves of iceberg and romaine lettuce wilting from the warmth. Each salad was presented in a crystal bowl, and the glasses were never left empty. It seemed to the guests that they had been eating for a very long time, but none had the ill manners to check their watches. A blood pudding, filled with whitish lumps that fell open at the touch of the knife, followed.

The speeches began; the guests were again welcomed; each speaker had something eloquent and relevant to say. The waiters brought the aperitifs in tiny, blue-bottomed glasses, and the speeches concluded, the head table leading the applause. The windows were opened by waiters bearing long metal poles, and the stiff, stale air circulated. Cigarettes were lit, and quickly extinguished. More food was being brought.

It was custard of tapioca, dyed baby blue and garnished with carrot curls. But by then the hardiest of gluttons were slowing, the spoons dipped with less and less gusto. Plates of morels drizzled with bltter were distributed by the now-jacketless waiters, whose white dress shirts had stains of gray sweat spreading as far as their waists. People began to talk of leaving; women organised their purses. As each tray was carried from the kitchen, a belch of steam and smoke poured from the squalor, and the chef could be heard screaming.

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