Ruth set the plate down in front of him. She took her seat opposite and shivered with excitement. At the sight of it, he tried to conceal his bewilderment.
“I can’t wait for you to try it,” she exclaimed, waving her fork in the air.
“Wh-what is it?” he asked nervously.
“Wine pasta,” came the answer, through a mouthful of it. He poked at the pasta bows in the dish; tried to skewer one of the bluish corpses. It escaped his aim, slithering glutinously under its companions.
“It smells delicious,” he said, lifting it up on his fork. Gingerly, he brought it to his lips and took its pale, quivering lilac mass into his mouth. It was the colour of a bruise and soft like slow-cooked skin; it could almost pass for coq au vin, he told himself as he swallowed quickly. “Very original,” he nodded, without looking at her.
“I’m so glad you like it. I was so nervous, making you something, you know, my own recipes. Scared you wouldn’t like it. Silly me, I know. Actually, I can give you the recipe. A whole bottle of Barolo in there y’know, and I simmered it for thirty minutes to make it extra tender…”
But her date wasn’t listening. Somehow or other, he was going to have to finish this entire mound of flaccid twists. There was no way out. He pressed on, trying to avoid the sensory distress of chewing. Swallowing three of the slippery creatures at a time was certainly possible, but surely there was a limit? Halfway through, he began to slow up.
“This is very… filling… Ruth. Wonderfully filling.”
“I’ve given you too much, haven’t I? I’m sorry. You don’t have to finish it. Got to leave room for dessert.”
“Dessert?” He put down his fork abruptly.
“I knew you’d be a dessert man! I’ll bring it right through.”
“What are we having?” he called after her into the kitchen.
Ruth reappeared bearing a tray of white sliced bread. Each slice was thickly buttered and sprinkled with sugar.
“Sweetbreads,” she proclaimed gleefully. “Help yourself.”