Dinner with 20 Men.

Dinner with 20 Men.
We went for dinner yesterday, 20 men who finished their meetings and I. It took us about half an hour to get from the hotel to the restaurant. Once inside I looked around and just had time to think, What a lovely place! Nice spacious dining hall, soft lights, very pleasant ambience. But then it turned out that a very special experience was awaiting us. The maître d’hôtel took us down the winding narrow stairs, and down and down. I thought we were going to the dungeons but it turned out a unique treat was planned. We got down to the very cool very large wine cellar with a small side chamber on the side. The ancient ceiling of rough hewn stone, a large table, no windows in sight… I thought I would pass out. Well, in such a situation a stiff upper lip is the only option. Aperitifs were brought in. The promised Spumante definitely wasn’t, but it was a very nice extra dry sparkling wine which I nursed till the end of our dinner. A large plate with assorted raw salted or smoked meats and seafood (What’s that? – Sliced octopus tentacles m’am) was placed in front of me. I found some smoked salmon on it and skipped the octopus. The main dish was some meat. What’s that? Venison. Inevitably some men mentioned Bambi, and I simply blocked out their comments. So, venison which I never tried, and mushroom sauce. I never eat mushrooms. Well, hunger is the best sauce. Then came tiramisu with some lovely berry syrup and a scoop of ice cream. That was delicious and coffee was really good.
Men talked mostly work and experiments and future cooperation. I did not think anybody noticed that there was a woman present but I was wrong. We walked back as a group, and I appreciated the fact that the men stayed ahead, behind and by our side all the time. It turned out to be a lovely evening in spite of an inauspicious beginning. It showed me among other things that indeed pleasant company makes even a cellar bearable and an unfamiliar dish palatable. What little contribution I made to the general talk was on the familiar subject of conferences and the places we all visited.

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