This was going to be good. A perfect autumn afternoon - overcast, drizzling. Pumpkins out. Fallen leaves scattered along the winding road. Time on my hands.
Perfect eating weather.
I had been thinking and talking about this for months. My very own hidden piece of heaven. The absolute perfect little gourmet deli. Always a good CD playing an esoteric track. Purple potato chips from special purple South American potatoes. Lovely whole wheat bread. And the absolute coup de gras - the piece de resistance - chicken and grape salad. (BTW - I can't find the French vowels on the PC so will have to make do with the American ones.)
Yes, it was all as I had remembered. The European chocolates. The Twinings tea display. The low lighting. The just enough seasonal decorations. Yes, this was going to be very good. And I had forgotten - they even had the mile-high apple pie near the cash register. Yes, I will have a piece of that as well.
The first sign of problems was I couldn't find the individual bags of the purple potato chips. I asked the lady at the counter - the one who always takes your order and rings you up. "No, we haven't had those in a while. The guy comes on Fridays. We'll have to ask him if he has them then," she said. Ok, a minor blip. Nothing to be overly-crestfallen about. The New England kettle-style ones will do.
Can I have a plastic fork?
I put one in the bag.
Everything I needed for a wonderful afternoon was in the bag. Next stop - the parking space at the far end of the parking lot, the one I always ate at years ago when I had time to do such things. The time before the world got in the way. There was even a Mallard duck going by on the Pattaconk River. I would be able to appreciate nature as well. How lovely. Reminded me of watching the ducks on the River Derwent in Bakewell. How lovely indeed.
The first bite. Something crunchy. Grapes are NOT crunchy. Someone's tinkered with the recipe. It's supposed to be chicken and grape. Nothing more. This is....celery. And chicken. And grape.
Ok. So the potato chips aren't the purple ones. The chicken salad has celery in it. This is not how it is supposed to be. I stuck it out for half a sandwich. Looked around for the fork. It was nowhere to be found. She didn't put it in the bag. Just as I had suspected. Do I go back in there and make a scene? No, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I ate some of the pie with my hand.
I'll save the rest for my Mother. Not the sandwich, though. She will be utterly dismayed to hear that they tinkered with the recipe.
I threw the remaining half of the sandwich and chips in the bag and tossed it all in the dumpster.
Utterly crestfallen, I drove away.
I guess the old adage is true — you can never really go home again.