Monday, April 6, 2009

CAFFAYS 2

THE ROUND TABLE --- COLUMBIA, MISSISSIPPI

That one would qualify as a meat 'n' twelve. Tables seat about ten or twelve, with plates set on the perimeter, and a huge, spinning round shelf in the center. You sit with whoever's there, catch a bowl or platter as it spins past you, help yourself, and try to find a setting-down place for it next time around, so you can pick up another dish. Super food, lovely proprietors---two ladies who own and supervise; not an immaculate curl out of place, and pristine dresses creased just SO as they sit down, take a sip of their 40-weight tea, and speak toward the kitchen: "Mighty good tea today, Margrit!"

I tried to imagine the life they must live, just supervising all those wonderful cooks every day---I thought of them as waking to their coffee, reading the Jackson Daily Ledger in their silky robes, a bath and dusting powder and teensy dabs of Toujours Moi or Shalimar in the crook of the elbows, then dressing, stockings rolled just below their knees, and drifting downstairs to take in the delicious aromas and the serene temper of the white-draped dining rooms, ready to receive their guests with the aplomb and ease of royalty, confident in their long-time retainers in the kitchen.

A discreet sign says "Please take only one meat," but the vegetables pour out like manna from the kitchen; when the bowls get a bit low, they are replaced immediately, with the same or an equally delicious side dish. People come in, sit down, and begin from the beginning. I seem to remember going to the sideboard for the little glass dishes of pie or banana pudding when I just couldn’t turn that table again.




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