Sunday, November 21, 2004

Beaujolais Nouveau and a Pop Tart
On Friday, Fr. Tharp descended upon Oklahoma City from the north to take Mark Shea to the airport. I ascended to the city from the south, passing through on my way from my priest support group meeting back to my parish. Fr. Tharp had called me the evening before and said he felt like a substantial lunch and suggested a couple of options in OKC. One option he suggested was a little French Bistro. Considering that only the evening before, on November 18th, this year's cash of Beaujolais nouveau wines arrived, I told him we needed to go there for some of the wine. He, of course, agreed.

We met up at the bistro and each ordered one of the day's specials, being drawn by the "fish" options since it was a Friday. I chose a sauteed shrimp with mushrooms served over a puff pastry with asparagus and potatoes. Fr. Tharp, for his substantial lunch, chose the red snapper with corn and cheese, served as an open-faced sandwich on toast. My plate arrived. The puff pastry, sauteed shrimp, and mushrooms were built up at the plate's center. A lovely sauce was delicately poured on and around the edges of the shrimp and pastry creation. On one side were a few potatoes (ridiculously small, potato "caps," as only gourmet chefs can do) and on the other, two spears of asparagus with a thin ribbon of carrot wrapped around them. It looked wonderful. Then, Fr. Tharp's plate was set before him.

It was as if the chef was trying to make a point to Fr. Tharp: "Come into my bistro, will you, and order an open-faced sandwich? Then, take this!" Fr. Tharp looked at his plate. I, too, looked on, seeing what I myself had almost ordered. Fr. Tharp's substantial lunch fit literally onto one piece of toast! A quick topographical study of the piece of toast would not have suggested much red snapper, much corn or much cheese. There it was: one piece of toast, barely weighed down by some obnoxious bistro topping, occupying the center of an oversized, white plate, surrounded by sprinkles of something like fresh chopped parsley. And NOTHING ELSE! That was it!

We both looked at his plate and tried to hide the fact that we were stunned. Fr. Tharp finally broke the silence: "Well, this is wholly uninspiring." I couldn't resist. After a few minutes of eating our respective lunches, I asked him, "So, how is your red snapper, corn, and cheese POP TART!?" Thank God for the Beaujolais nouveau!

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