Monday, August 07, 2006

A Perfect Moment

The most superb meal I have ever had was at Fat Franks in Halifax sometime in the early 80’s. I had gone to give a writers’ workshop there; the organizers had given me a meal allowance, but I hadn’t used any of it. I decided to blow it all on one meal. Someone told me about Fat Franks. I began with the single best thing I have ever put in my mouth, saffron soup, a plain cream soup flavored with saffron. At the time I had never tasted saffron, just read about it. I had a delicate, perfectly cooked Coquilles St Jacques for the main course. It had an ideal blend of flavors. I had never had the dish made by anyone else but myself. The dessert was Bavarian cream so subtle that it required my taking one bite, waiting, taking another.

As soon as each course was served, a fat man in a chef’s hat stood in the doorway watching me, staring at me, Fat Frank himself, I figured. When I had finished each course, he would disappear until the waiter brought the next one. I wondered why he was watching me. Did he think that because I was alone, I was a restaurant critic? Could he tell by what I ordered that I would enjoy the food? Was my delight evident? As I was eating the Bavarian cream, he came to the table and commanded, “Eat it all.” Yes, I said, I am just slowing down to enjoy it fully. The meal cost $21, quite a price for that time. As I was leaving, the man I presumed to be Fat Frank helped me on with my coat. I said something complimentary. He beamed.

Alas, Fat Franks had closed by the next time I got to Halifax.

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