Memorable Meals: Episode 3, Garlic Galore and Flies in Your Wine!

We decided to trust the advice written in the little guest book that one summer and headed to a restaurant where you could supposedly eat a three-course meal (complete with a bottle of wine) for only 12 euros.  What kind of food that would be was anyone?s guess, but for that price, I definitely wasn?t expecting much.  I was, however, extremely curious.
From the outside the place looked very desserted.  There was no one sitting outside and considering the beautiful weather, I found that very peculiar. After ten minutes had passed and our presence was yet to be acknowledged, I decided to send Hans inside to see if there was any life to this place. There was life, and there was food, but only inside.  
The waitress who led us to our table was a middle-aged gal with a raspy voice and a subtle aroma of stale cigarettes.  We eagerly followed her into a cozy room in the back where apparently all the lunching was taking place. There was an older couple next to us who were finishing some sort of salad, slurping their water (the wine was not touched) and not really saying much to each other. The tables behind us on the other hand, were occupied by chatty groups of men, greedily carving into their meat with their own Opinel knives.  It was fun to sit there and try to figure out what they were talking about.
We were told what the plat du jour was (cĂ´tes de porc) and informed that unfortunately, the starter was finished. A real disappointment considering that I was really looking forward to every course in this three-course meal. As soon as the waitress left, my attention turned to the open bottle of wine on our table, and on every table.  It had no label which made me insanely curious.  I wondered about its quality as I bravely poured us a glass. Miracle of miracles, I detected a very drinkable, smooth merlot!  A decent wine usually means a decent kitchen so I stopped fretting and instead sat back, drank my wine and took in what was going on around me.  
I noticed the typical French windows and the thin, yellowed curtains.  There were other waitresses walking around and the homely atmosphere combined with their laid back nonchalance made me feel as though I was sitting at my grandmother?s house.  The more wine I drank, the stronger that feeling became.  To me they were no longer ?waitresses? but ?aunts?. And boy was that wine good.
I was so pleased with myself when our food came out. Ha! The chops looked great! Ok, maybe a little too much pureed raw garlic on top of them, but come on, this was the French way!  I remember looking at Hans and asking what he thought about the meat.  Funny, but at that moment he didn?t say much. I kept on drinking the wine and growing more and more cheerful with each glass.  Even the dead fly I discovered swimming in one of the last glasses didn?t seem to bother me. Seriously, has anyone ever died from a little extra protein?
After our plates were cleared, we were asked about dessert. Of course we wanted dessert! And coffee please! The cake of the house, a very wet, and very odd-looking prune tarte tatin was rather sweet, and I was rather drunk.  But complain?  Me? I was having lunch with my French tantes and life was good.
When we left the restaurant, it was a little after 1 PM.  I really can?t remember much about the rest of the day except that my head was spinning and that every pore in my body was exuding garlic. Only later did Hans and I confess to each other that we were glad we were spared a serious bout of food poisoning. We are a strong folk, you see.

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