Mr Pamplemousse spread his ample form over the chair’s cushion and gave his napkin an ostentatious flick. Casting a glance around the room, he grasped his cutlery eagerly. He could hardly believe his luck! Last week he had been reporting on the Woman’s Institute outing and lost dogs and now he was the envy of his profession – restaurant critic to the Mercury. God bless Mr Dryden and his perforated ulcer.

Mr Pamplemousse’s wife had pressed his suit specially and he was keen to generate the air of a seasoned epicure. He nodded his thanks to the waitress and gazed at the beef Wellington. Not wanting the moment to finish; the shy suitor chewed his lip and inhaled deeply through his nose. Damn; he really loved his job. The crust was crisp, the gravy a rich brown sea of sensual pleasure. Mr Pamplemousse  closed his eyes and memories of his mother’s touch – gone some twenty years or so, came back to him. With a smile on his face, he felt a fat contented tear roll down his cheek. Tonight he would dig out those dried herbs from the food cupboard that his son had left when he went to university and surprise Mrs P. with a pie or a stew.  Perhaps he’d even stop at the supermarket and pick up something special for dessert.  The world was good and right and lovely, nothing mean or shoddy could exist on an Earth that held food such as this and once his plate was cleared he would walk away a better man.


Pamplemousse came to like a man whose head bursts through warm bath water into the chill air of the bathroom. He was embarrassed to discover that during his reverie, a slender, black suited man had occupied the adjacent chair.

“My name is Twine, I am the restaurant critic for the Gazette, I presume you’re Dryden’s replacement .”

Pamplemousse’s reply was cut short by the arrival of Mr Twine’s lunch. Although the meal was less generous in proportion, the lemon sole looked delightful and he felt a blush of shame at the desire he felt for another man’s dinner. 

Twine’s neck extended like a tortoise suspicious that his lettuce has been tampered with. His nostrils widened and his eyelids flickered, half shut. In a voice that was barely audible he began to chant in the tone of a priest’s litany.

“Aroma … sublime. Presentation  ….. ……… amusing.

Twine wiped the outermost tine of his fork through the sauce and pressed it against the tip of his tongue.

“Tarragon infused with a whisper of lime, oh yes, clever, very clever and … oh yes, you naughty man … you’ve warmed the fish over a brandy flame.”

Twine permitted himself a small, self satisfied smile and pushed the plate away from his slender frame. He reached into his jacket pocket and started to write rapid notes in a slim leather bound notebook.

Pamplemousse looked at the beautiful and barely touched meal. Pamplemousse looked at the sharp features of Mr Twine. He somehow felt he’d made some ghastly faux pas, but was unsure what it might be.

“Did you enjoy your meal?” he asked tentatively.

Twine carefully laid his notebook down and then the pencil precisely parallel to the edge.

“Enjoy, enjoy? My dear man, I am a restaurant critic.  I appreciate the artistry of food, the skill of the preparation, I am not here to indulge in emotional wallowing.” Mr Twine fixed the unfortunate Pamplemousse with a pitying stare and shook his head with a world weary sadness.

“I am afraid you have made a rather elementary mistake. The profession to which you aspire is one of the mind . We are here to celebrate genius and to mock the inept, unlike the uninitiated, we do not let emotion cloud our wits.”

Pamplemousse’s cheeks reddened and he regarded his empty plate with shame. Remembering his earlier ideas, he sought to change the subject.

“Do you ever do cook yourself?”

Twine closed his eyes slowly and kept them shut for what seemed to be a long time.

“The food that I review is the culmination of a master’s art, his life’s offering. It is flavoured by mental breakdowns and marital strife; the tears of kitchen skivvies add piquancy to it. When one has encountered food such as this, one does not presume to imitate.”

Pamplemousse did not speak; his shame was complete, but curiously, the mood of his companion seemed to have lifted.  Twine carefully placed the notebook and pencil back into his pocket and turned to the downcast would be reviewer.

“Come Mr Pamplemousse,” said Mr Twine in a softer tone, “let us order dessert, I saw a syllabub earlier that I think you could be persuaded to sneer at.”

One response to “Appetite”

  1. Jennie Ekedahl Avatar
    Jennie Ekedahl

    Ref. Appetite
    Hilarious. I loved it.

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