So last night my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate his birthday. We went to a Very Fancy Restaurant, because my husband fancies himself as a Very Fancy Man. Fancy that!
Now, this restaurant had Very Good Food, with Very Good Service, and even some Exciting Experimental Dishes. You know. Like foam. And ice cream made of ingredients that really shouldn't be made into ice cream. You know. Like asparagus.
It was a degustation menu, which is always fun. They bring you a series of Teeny Tiny dishes, all of which add up to a Hugely Big meal. You start out starving and demolish the first three courses in a couple of mouthfuls, mopped up by the delicious breadroll; by the fourth course you realise you are full; and by the sixth course you can't even taste the food anymore, which is a shame because that's when they're starting to bring out the good stuff. You know. Like meat.
Now, degustation meals take a great deal of time, and my husband and I have been married for 12 years. In other words, the dinner lasted longer than the conversation. We had a lot to discuss during the first couple of courses, by the third we were floundering, and by the fourth we had started talking about the kids. (By the fifth course we were actually looking at photos of said offspring on our iPhones, which is so sad I considered not even writing it, but I am all for journalistic honesty).
So I spent a lot of time looking around me. Being in a corner booth, in a squared off section of the restaurant, we only had one set of table neighbours. They were a well groomed foursome who took detailed photos of every dish, before eating in earnest silence. Clearly they were either food bloggers or people with no family, who sat alone of an evening, surrounded by framed photos of tuna mousse and walnut encrusted duck. Either way, they weren't terribly interesting.
So I found myself gazing at the sommelier. Now, he was fascinating. A young man of slender build, his job was to open every bottle of wine, pour a sample into a glass, swirl it, examine it, sniff it, swallow it, nod, paste little labels on it, and serve it to the diners - presumably to ensure that none of the bottles had been corked, mislabled, poisoned, or somehow replaced with Diet Coke.
What's more, he had to carry over huge trays of glassware to each table. Without smashing them. Then pour the wine into the glasses. Without spilling it. Whilst getting progressively more drunk as the evening wore on. Because this was his job.
I was entranced. So much so that, when the bill came, revealing to me that this Very Fancy Restaurant was also a Preposterously Priced Restaurant, I didn't even resent paying the billions of dollars they requested. (Okay, I did, but not as much as I otherwise would have.)
Because this restaurant showed me something I had never seen before. A world in which young men can get paid to drink fabulous wine all night. A world in which one's job can be intoxicating. Literally.
Wouldn't suit me, though. I'd start off excitedly with the first three mouthfuls, be drunk by the fourth, and by the sixth I wouldn't be able to taste it anymore.
Guess I'm just a Diet Coke kind of girl.