Janice remembers being a piscesean after finishing a bowl of catfish on tamarind soup. Touching her navel, she thinks about the seeds of the strange fish she had just consumed. Back in her hometown, she heard rumors in the market that they were harvested from a graveyard ditch. Aversion to mud and stank gone in one gulp. Heaving her stomach, she settles herself and visualizes exotica. Embrace exotica.
The aftertaste of mud is interesting; as a kid, she had swallowed grits of beach sand and actually liked it. It goes down like crushed cereal without milk before her mother forced her to flush them out, grating her throat.
She tried the meat, a bit gummy for her tongue, and would prefer the softer halibut. It’s bloated head resembles a lazy-eyed mogul with a whipping mustache. Voltes V battled and slayed a mutated freak in the early glory of anime television, and she read somewhere that in the Mekong Delta Vietnamese fishermen catches this monster and have to saw them in half in order to load them on their boat. The fire, the resistance and the ancient wisdom of this thick-skinned survivor. Who knows what they eat out there?
Janice is under the spirit of daring when she orders the waiter: I think i’m gonna try the pigeon. She knows she made a snap decison and is waiting to hear a desultory “Excellent choice” but the waiter flees to the kitchen as if a secret consortium with the chef is being discussed. When the plate is served, quicker than she thinks it will take, the waiter has a new demeanor, friendly and accomodating with a guilty nonchalance.
Enjoy your dinner Mam.
The pigeon is well cooked and has no back story to tell after it reaches the palate of her mouth. Satisfaction is understated but it holds it’s own kiosk in the garden of her culinary delight. It washes away any picture of pigeons begging for crumbs in the park or roadkills on a desert road. She sits there with a smiling belly and a sleepy eye watching the sauntering people on the streets. And as if the waiter is just a passer-by, she even forgets his chameleon-like persona.
For dessert, she thinks it will be special if she gets a Chocolate Cranberry Truffle Cake. Fancy, elegant, sophisticated and all the facionista adjective she can think of in this piece of sweetness she can indulge. She cannot go to Paris, she cannot breathe the Spruce in the Alps and she cannot wear her smooth silky nightdress for someone, but she has this. This. She will not be denied: warmth, longing, tenderness…, nor she will resist: temptation, recklessness and debauchery. In the name of comfort.
For how many times did she think she got it, a tangible love and luck on a resealable bag. After a bite of goodness, the rawness of feeling evaporates into a whiff. She might as well pour salt to her cake and to all the dear things that expired.
A voice from the next table interrupts her revery. A well-dressed couple wants to know if the cake is too sweet. She says no but something stops her for saying life can never be too sweet. The man smiles and she detects deception on his lip.
She wraps her thought by concluding that dessert is about being thankful. She can dig her finger through her past and she still won’t grab the virtue of surviving on a lonely world. Maybe she is growing stale, but a cake, it is so divine it reminds her that she is delaying her self gratification. For what