Thursday, September 10, 2009
The restaurant was plush but empty, the cook said that the Dutch tend to order bread and drinks to go. However, he pulled on his tunic and offered to cook us lunch. There was a good menu, but we suggested that we'd enjoy a meal to his preferences. Big smile, and off he went. He returned with three glasses of honey'd beer and we all drank a toast to the meal. Oxtail soup followed, and a delicate thin-crust pizza. A huge platter of sausages, pork and sauerkraut, fragrant and hot, with a regional white wine. An hour passed, happily.
We pitched our business plans to one another, thought of resources and friends who might be able to help.. An exotic meal gets the global thoughts flowing: do I know anyone in Russia? Of course: I've been thinking about China. Me too, and I have a friend there with a new invention that might help. Furious scribbling on napkins: circles, arrows, world domination.
Dessert arrives, it's two pm. The chef brings out a mason jar with a traditional berry liqueur that he makes himself, and we all toast across the thick dark drink. "Why did you open a restaurant in Maastricht?" A woman, Dutch, and artist… We examined her paintings, the works that their friends had done for the restaurant, the new decoration for the bathrooms.
Three o'clock. A car pulls up and people spill in with their instrument cases. One runs a gallery up the street, another is preparing for the culture festival this weekend. Beer all around, conversation fills the afternoon. Ten minutes about the business, five about the neighborhood, ten about a clinical study, five to share a story. The conversation flows between their group and ours, alternating French and English.
Four pm, really time to be going. I try to decide if the afternoon was wasted, the need to check items off a list nagging at the back of my mind.
Well, no, not wasted at all, really.
Not a bit of it.