Lunch is for ladies! Yesterday Friend and I went out for lunch, going first to the new strawberry place run by immigrants from New Caledonia. Friend was saying their drawback was that their English was so poor. “But she speaks French”, I replied. So no sooner had we walked in than Friend greeted her in French, and in a low voice began a conversation in flowing, beautifully modulated French. I had never realised how beguiling French could sound, so courtly and courteous, and also intimate.
Later, at the cafe having Eggs Benedict and a glass of wine, after covering the usual topic – the rigours of caring for frail and elderly husbands, and their growing domestic blindness and latest foibles – we discussed the coarseness of the Windsor men, a propos the latest incident with the Duke of York, and harking back to other incidents with all the Queen’s sons. I introduced Friend to Sir Charles Petrie’s theory about the Hanoverians – the three types – one, the brutal Duke of Cumberland type, then the extravagant and self-indulgent Prince Regent model, and lastly, the Coburg strain, good and conscientious – she was fascinated, and found no difficulty in fitting the various members of each generation into those categories. We ended lunch by telling each other some of our husband’s jokes. This was a long and laborious process, since neither of us had the gift for timing or even for remembering the punch line, so we struggled with the right words and the sequences, finally muddling our way to the end, and laughing just for the hell of it.
I scored a hit with an ancient joke from the Guardian, some graffiti in a loo, which read: “I love screwing grils”. Someone added the next line: “don’t you mean girls?” and the last line read : “what about us poor grils”, a phrase which has remained in regular use in this family for the last thirty years at least..
The gents stayed home with bread and cheese and chutney and tomatoes. The unkindest cut of all was that we were both so full from our delicious and nutritious lunch that neither of us felt like slaving over a hot stove for them in the evening… They also serve who only stand and wait!.
My man was lucky. There was a chocolate mousse in the fridge left over from yesterday’s lunch for the grandchildren.
So easy, cheap and nutritious. Take one egg per person, six squares of black chocolate, a walnut-sized knob of butter, and a teaspoon of orange juide, black coffee, sherry or brandy, depending what flavour you fancy. Slowly melt the butter, chocolate and joices. Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites till stiff. Stir the yolks into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then gently fold into the egg whites. Pour into glasses – wine glasses or ramakins, and chill in the fridge.
If I ever felt the meal was rather light on protein, I made these for the children, then at least they’d had an egg. They never complained!