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This is a question Conspicuous Consumption

Have you ever been photographed sat on a balcony eating a croissant; or wallowed in luxury just for the sake of it? What's the most ostentatious thing you ever seen or done?

(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 13:18)
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Twasn't but a month ago...
that I attended a conference in Paris. It was the first day and I'd just presented earlier just after lunch; Needless to say I was feeling pretty fecking chilled out after the months of work leading up to it.

The evening event was a meal on a boat going up and down the Seine, and I sat on the end of a long table with my three colleagues and a bunch of strangers from the conference that I'd just met. I knew it was off to a good start when the guy next to me slid his glass of wine over to me.

"You don't want that?" I enquired.

"Oh...no. I don't drink. Please. Take." He replied in slightly broken English. It turned out he was Iranian, and didn't drink on religious grounds. For some reason he was too polite to decline a refilling, or to move the glass away from him, and it seems I was too kind (read: stupid) to refuse more drink.

Then the starter came - Foie Gras. Starving, I polished mine off smartish. Mid-munching, my Singaporean friend then turned to me and asked what the starter was. I told him is was a goose liver. He remarked on the colour, and I then explained in great detail the cruel and laborious task of overfeeding a goose to make foie gras. He looked a little uneasy, but tried it.

About five minutes in, I got a tap on the shoulder from the Iranian.

"Hello...please? Would you like?" He said, offering me his starter. He'd eaten half his bread roll, and that's it.

I looked at the plate. "Are you sure you don't want it?"

"No," he replied, patting his tummy, "I'm not good with new things."

Not one to turn down food, I snaffled myself another plateful of goose innards. The Singaporean, noticing my ability to eat offal, offered me his, as he wasn't too keen on it. He also offered me his glass of sparkling rosé, as he didn't like the bubbles.

Half an hour in, the boat hadn't even left the docking, and I was well on my way to some horrible Mr. Creosote-eqsue explosion. I thought it wise to pace myself. This was a marathon...not a sprint. I took the set-menu listing, and enquired with the Iranian what he liked to eat. I was genuinely interested, and also I wanted to gauge how much of the remaining meal he'd eat. Main course - Sea Bass. It turns out he loved fish. This was good, as I didn't want the poor guy to starve, and I didn't want to be sick on the first day of the conference. We chatted about Iran, and his travels through Europe, and he showed me pictures of himself and his family. He was a bloody nice guy, as well as the perfect person to sit next to at a French banquet.

The main course passed smoothly, with nothing but wine passed to me.

Then pudding - some ice-cream, meringue and strawberry...thing. Like Eton mess or some such. It was topped, rather banally, with a cherry. Not just any cherry though...presumably soaked in paraffin...the thing tasted like I'd frenched a petrol-pump. Unfortunately, it was the first thing my Iranian friend tasted. He spat it out immediately, and pushed the plate away.

"It's not all alcohol, just that cherry!" I assured him.

"No...it's good. I am full. Please. Take." He said offering me his pudding. I'd barely started mine, so I declined...

Well...until I'd finished mine at least. What the hell! I didn't have to be up in the morning. Well...not really. I could miss the first few talks. What's an additional pudding going to do? It's not like I'm on a diet. I'll just not eat the next day. It's cool...it's just a one-off...

The next morning I woke at 10am, unaware of how I got back to the hotel, feeling like I'd already eaten two hearty breakfasts. Dear God...I've never eaten like that in my life...I felt like a Mediaeval King...a pregnant one...
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 19:17, Reply)

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