[Editor’s Note: The following story was originally posted on October 21, 2014]
My Wife: “It tastes kind of like a light olive.”
Me: “Why would I want to try something that tastes like an olive? I hate olives.”
Wife: “You might like it, just try it.”
Me: “I’ve never even heard of a caper, other than a crime caper.”
Wife: “Yes you have. Hannibal Lecter eats them, sautéed with brains.”
Me: “Wait, so you want me to eat this thing because it will bring me one step closer to being Hannibal Lecter?”
The conversation went on from there. At some point I stuff that wretched pea sized caper into my unsuspecting mouth and my taste buds revolted. Not only is a caper not “a light olive”, it’s about 10 times worse than an olive. I will NEVER eat another caper. I’ll leave capers to Hannibal Lecter.
My wife’s suggestion to eat at La Scala for our anniversary dinner both relieved and terrified me. Relieved because I like Italian food, terrified because this would be my first visit to the restaurant. After our last food adventure Lacy was kind enough to send me a link to La Scala’s menu so I could figure out in advance what I wanted. La Scala is a small independently owned Italian restaurant that has enjoyed 14 years in Lafayette. According to the menu, the family grows a lot of their own veggies to get the healthiest local ingredients possible.
Our table was soon graced with a warm and tasty chunk of bread; Lacy assured me that the small saucer of green speckled oil was for dipping my bread into. It failed to enhance my enjoyment of the bread, but I dipped away like I knew what I was doing.
After intense inspection of every item on their menu–despite having already looked over the menu from the safety of my home–I ordered the fettuccine Alfredo with chicken. Here I was, at an upper level establishment with an extensive authentic Italian menu and I ordered the same thing I order at Fazoli’s.
I thought my plan was foolproof, until the server asked if I wanted soup or salad. I froze. The food panic crept over me like a wave about to break my body upon the rocky shores of decision-making. “What kind of soup?” I asked.
“Red pepper or tomato basil,” responded the red-haired server. I knew I didn’t want red pepper and her description of the tomato basil as being “creamy” won me over. It was only later that I realized what a horrible mistake I’d made.
I couldn’t pronounce the appetizer, but my primitive hand gestures made it clear to our patient and understanding server that I wanted the one with small slices of bread, cheese, and tomatoes (another mistake on my part.) Lacy then ordered her Pescado Limone and a glass of wine. I passed on the alcohol (another mistake).
Four slices of baguette, topped with cheese and tomato arrived at our table. Now, allow me to explain the way my taste for tomato works. I like ketchup and I love pizza sauce, but I hate raw tomatoes and tomato soup. I’m not big on pasta sauce either and yes I do realize this is void of all logic and reason.
Choking down two tomato covered pieces of bread isn’t easy, even if they’re also covered in cheese. However, to avoid comment, question, and judgement from the server, I managed to consume my share.
In the midst of my food panic, I forgot that tomato basil soup, creamy or not, will basically just be tomato soup with a few spices. Still, determined to avoid the server’s judging eyes, I tasted it. It was horrible, not as horrible as the caper, but it was bad.
Now, I’m sure any normal person would love this soup, just not someone with an irrational hatred of tomato soup. I even experimented by dipping the bread into it. That was also terrible. I pushed it aside knowing that I would eventually suffer the server’s comments about not eating the soup.
I could picture it in my mind, she’d casually walk over her hair blowing gently in the wind and she’d ask if the soup was OK and I’d say, “Yes, nice server lady, the soup is fine, I just didn’t finish it because I’m a terrible wasteful person. Take me to the kitchen and place me in the iron maiden for my sins!”
As I feared, she returned. Her hair was not blowing in the wind, but she did inquire about my lack of soup consumption. I explained my irrational love/hate relationship with tomatoes and she confided that she has just the opposite problem, I decided that this lovely woman must now be my nemesis.
My wife’s fish looked appetizing enough, minus the asparagus, but my chicken appeared at first to be mostly gristle and fat. After the first bite, I realized this was an illusion and it turned out to be one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. There was so much food, that I wasn’t able to finish everything on my plate, though I did manage to eat enough to keep the server from asking questions. This was when my wife suggested that vile olive flavored berry. It will take a long time for her to earn back my trust.
After the caper incident, we paid our bill and headed out into the warm August day. I’ll keep a watchful eye out for my red-headed nemesis the next time we dine at La Scala, one never knows when she may strike with a plate of raw tomatoes arranged neatly atop a tasty crust of bread.