Panting under the great weight of the salver balanced overhead, my native waiter’s arse-grass rustled with each slip-slap of his bare brown feet. For efficiency, he had pushed up the sleeves of his tweed jacket. A correctly knotted tie bisected his shirtless Papuan torso.
He was delighted to at last serve a delicacy adapted from the Pidgin translation of Escoffier’s Complete Works (left by an earnest missionary keen to change the dietary preferences of the locals).
Before me he placed a gargantuan crystal bowl of cubed ice, an egg-cup of (very) imported caviar poised on top. Alongside, with leads trailing from a globe sited low in the ice, was a genuine car battery, beautified by a pleated skirt of tin-foil.
The cook craned from the kitchen door and the industrious fellow who drove the treadle sewing machine ceased mending donated damask tablecloths to watch this illuminated spectacle.
It tasted more-ish and I confess my fetish for eclectic dining started that day.
This civilised lady once dined
In a café your critic won’t find.
Ever since I’ve been urging
The eggs of the sturgeon
Be served in this manner defined.
Incongruous as it may seem,
New Guinean waiters, I deem,
Know best how to show
That magnificent roe
By lighting the ice with a beam.
In awe, I am nearly struck mute,
For the battery out of the ute
Has been placed on the tray
To adorn a display
Befitting Escoffier’s repute!
A Pidgin account of his book
Had been given the Papuan cook,
Long waiting a guest
Who might be impressed
By the diligent efforts he took.
That day when I ordered this dish,
I granted the native his wish –
He bore to my table
Ice, battery and cable
For lighting these ova of fish.
He beamed at the spectacle made
When presenting the eggs a fish laid.
And not one was wasted –
To date I’ve not tasted
A caviar quite of the grade!