15 February 2007

I like living in Greece more than you

(# Whatever - see how Greek I'm becoming?)

To the Golden Harvest Cantonese restaurant to inspect their menu for the 18th in case I can "suggest" some refinements. Tatiana tags along because she's heard of the place but never set foot inside.

We arrive as they're readying for lunch and are approached by a totally Chinese member of staff whom I address in my faltering Greek and he replies in his more fluent Helliniki. Tatiana giggles at this bizarre situation and offers helpful translation of the more arcane points of cuisine.

We then go into English and my questions become more accurate and informed, altho' they need translating back into Cantonese and hollered into the kitchen for confirmation and fine-tuning by some invisible hag.

Eventually the old lady emerges and we conduct the chatter at a lower volume, which for the Chinese is down from raucous to the merely yelled.

It's taking too long so I ask the old lady direct, we natter, I get my answers, confirm the booking for 12 and leave with much bowing and inscrutable smiling all round. Tat' is crapping herself laffing and clutches my arm as we emerge.

"Wha's so funny, girl?"

"You don't see it? Off-season Kerkira, scruffy gent walks into Chinese restaurant and proceeds to speak passable Greek, pretty good English ... and what sounded fluentish Chinese. You think that's normal?

What *did* you say to her?"

It hadn't occurred to me. I'd just slid into it.

"I said, 'Venerable Grandmother, Kung Hei Fat Choi and may prosperity and continuing health stay with you for the Year of the Boar. And which of your recipes will we be privileged to enjoy?'

That's when she asked for the menu, pronounced it too 'everyday normal' (translation beyond me) but if she could make a few suggestions ...

  • I refused, declaring us not worth her valued time and trouble
  • She countered with shame and honoured gratitude that their humble eaterie was even being considered for marking such an auspicious event.
  • I explained that my vulgar ignorance of good food required me to leave everything in her hands, to which *she* replied that the cook had a glimmering of talent for certain dishes and that she hoped the paltry menu she had in mind would be of some small satisfaction."
  • I said I was already faint with hunger for the glorious banquet. And we left it there."

    "Did you see the look on the faces of the others? If you don't leave bloated and happy, The Matriarch will want to know why."

    "Good point. Strategic move, there. I'd better arrive with Lai See packets galore."

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