Friday night Bill and I popped in for a quick dinner at a downtown bistro. We both had Italian-themed meals; they were tasty and hit the spot. A near-by table did not fare as well. Noting some distress, I used my keen eavesdropping skills to discover the problem was the mushy peas. The mushiness of the peas was not the issue; mushy peas demand a level of mush. But these mushy peas contained a disturbing ingredient–garlic.

The spokeswomen of the duo was not satisfied with holding high the offending ramekin while interrogating the waitress about the unusual presence of flavor. She had to ask for the manager, who explained that yes, their mushy pea preparation did include some garlic butter. “Oh! But that’s just not done!” the diner exclaimed. The manager apologized obligatorily, and asked if they had enjoyed the rest of their food. “All I could taste was garlic,” the second women said, “I got something familiar so I could trust it.” She had been betrayed. “We don’t like garlic,” the first woman said gravely. Thankfully her spirits weren’t completely broken by the aromatic bulb, as she was able to laugh after the manager left, exclaiming gleefully, “It’s like putting it in dessert!” I was tempted to tell her about garlic ice cream, but really, that would have been cruel.

Now, we all know garlic can be used to excess, but I doubt a pat of garlic butter would ruin some peas. Classic food items can be a minefield, but you can’t blame a restaurateur for wanting to subtly update a food favorite. Also, it’s hard for our Emerilized taste buds to imagine being shocked by a little garlic butter. But this is Ireland, and some things are just not done.

After dinner we attended a concert of Szymanowski, Dvorak and Bartok at the National Concert Hall. Szymanowski was a contemporary of Bartok. Dvorak and Bartok are some of Bill’s favorites. The RTE orchestra is excellent. We hope to take advantage of their rich performance schedule.

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