“Does that sound O.K.?” I asked.
Easy arithmetic, but what I hadn’t quite reckoned on was how much space this amount of food would take up -- 15 dozen apples; 75 pounds of boneless chicken breasts; a dozen heads each of Romaine, Napa Cabbage and Red cabbage -- nor what a commotion making such a purchase could create. From what I could see most customers were toting about adorable hand baskets, and apparently they subsisted on diets of yogurt and bagel chips. By way of contrast, before Amy and I left the produce section, our two carts were brimming over.
# # #
“I hope I’m not in trouble,” I said to Patton.
# # #
“Now abides faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is....” I looked up, thinking that someone in the crowd might fill in the last word. The room was silent, until a few moments later, Sister Liguori sang out in her referee’s voice, “LOVE!”
“I don’t eat fruit,” some said.
“Ain’t it got no mayonnaise?” they said, grimacing at the “Asian” cole slaw, made with an orange raspberry vinaigrette. I greeted these comments with a fake smile, trying not to take this personally, which was difficult since, as a chef, to have one’s cooking rejected is very personal, indeed.
Whatever the secret communications system that exists in this community which allowed Sister Liguori’s stolen computer to be returned now seemed to crackle with news that there were good eats at the Jubilee Kitchen. More guests began to stream in. People I’d not seen yesterday, new faces. People came back for seconds, and then thirds. Even the guy with the bulging eyeballs who hated “Is-salamis” was slightly becalmed.
Another gentleman, giggling to himself as he pored over a book with photographs taken in America’s national parks, kept coming back so often, I lost count after his fifth plate of food. As he left the dining room, this man solemnly showed me a picture of Niagara Falls, and shook my hand. He didn’t say a word.
A whole lot of people had enjoyed a nice meal, and I’d learned something important: how to beg.