Friday, March 11, 2011

Wicked Pleasures and Sensual Delights

I am sure it's a sin and a crime to spend so much money on food or to derive so much enjoyment  from it. Mercifully I didn't have to pay the bill and wicked pleasures and sensual delights being somewhat thin on the ground these days, I confess that I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite a pervasive sense of guilt, so let me tell you about my degustation experience.

I don't know who thought of this scam, presenting tiny courses of exquisitely prepared food, usually  accompanied by appropriate wines, but it is probably just the thing for a jaded society overweight and overindulged with bland mass -produced food.  As course after course arrived, I couldn't help thinking of the last days of the Roman Empire, or those decadent Victorian meals where eight or nine courses were served - quail stuffed with larks' tongues, followed by duck, followed by whole roast sucking pig and so on - only for the rich of course, while the poor ate gruel. The only thing about this is, that you are unlikely to exceed your daily kilojoule intake as all the courses are extremely small. It is simply a celebration of the tastebuds.

On they came - exquisite sauces, meats delicately prepared, tangy wild greens and infant vegetables, light sorbets to cleanse the palate in between, each one more succulent than the last. I especially liked the variety of textures. Sometimes light and foamy, or sharp and crisp or chewy or melt in your mouth tender and sometimes, as with the apple dish, all three at once.  One of the nice things was the element of surprise since it is entirely the chef’s choice and you just never knew what would come next. Even if you weren’t enthralled by everything, you could be pretty sure that something on the menu would be to your liking and everything was a taste sensation and visually pleasing too. The most memorable dish for me was probably the three or four strips of marinaded roast goat meat with a teaspoon of yoghurt dressing. Too bad they didn’t allow seconds or thirds.

This brings me to my other complaint. It is the feeling that after all this gastronomic titillation there should have been a main course of some kind.  It was as if after several hours of foreplay, the whole thing had no obvious conclusion. There was coffee at the end but it seemed like a bit of an anti -climax and a hint to go home.
While it felt totally immoral to be spending so much money on a little bit of food, I think of it more as being in the nature of performance art, rather than dining, with each plate a culinary installation.  Thank you Possums for treating me to a novel experience. What's  next?  Bungy jumping? A zeppelin flight to the moon?


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