Prone, as I am, to flights of fancy, I thought I'd share my latest one with you.
It's July 1994 in London; ‘the recession’ is the name of a night-club in Wigan and Apple Mac make ‘word-processors’ for soccer-moms and dentists. I own a small factory which produces 35 different scents of joss stick; needless to say, I'm in the money. I have no family, a butt-load of (rich) friends, a big white house in Primrose Hill, and hair like Hugh Grant. Every day at 12.30 PM, after a hard day's work, I slip on my Reebok classics and squeek down the street to Manna; my favourite restaurant. I always dine alone at the same, beautifully dressed table by the window and the staff know me as “Bread-and-olives-upon-arrival-man” or “B&O” for short (a name I would repudiate if it weren't a symbol of familiarity).
Despite their constantly shifting menu, Kate (the waitress with glitter on her eyes and chop-sticks in her hair) knows just what I want; I don't even open the menu. She asks me if I'd like to try their new Sauvignon Blanc while she scribbles ‘bean chimichanga w/ blackened tomato sauce and avocado mango salsa’. I smile – the ‘Hello Kitty’ head on the end of her pencil does the nodding for me. As with the day before, the food is spot-on. The chimichanga battles in my mouth and mind with a North American high school cafeteria, but it's no contest; the cafeteria is battered by explosion after explosion of powerful, accurate taste missiles and is left waving a white hair net from behind a plastic tray. The blackened tomato sauce tastes like someone took all the tomatoes in the world, blitzed them and simmered them in a pan for a million years until all that remained was the most tomato-y tablespoon of anything that has ever existed ever. My portion is never pretentiously small nor disconcertingly large and as I finish my glass of wine I thank God for joss sticks.
In my parallel universe, Manna is already a veteran of the Primrose Hill foodie scene as it perpetually redefines what it is to be a vegetarian restaurant. Just like fellow resident 90's Kate Moss, the restaurant is quietly breathtaking, it easily impresses without shouting or preaching (or appearing in every magazine, mobile phone advert or publicity campaign under the sun).
I settle the perfectly reasonably priced bill (for food of that standard I'd sell my Nokia 3315) and head for the door. And then, as quickly as that, I'm forced from my blissful reverie and back into the real world. The world where I am permitted to visit the truly magnificent Manna only once a year, as a special birthday treat. This year I'm going to wear hair mascara and tell the waiter the food was “buzzin”.