Cheese or Butter?
Updated: Mar 5, 2022
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In the winter of 1984, I took a trip with a then boyfriend to visit my friend at college upstate New York. The college was right near the Canadian border.
Me on the Amtrak train to Montreal.
The boyfriend, being a train nut, wanted to take Amtrak into Montreal where we would rent a car and make the 20 to 30 minute drive to my friend's college to spend the weekend. I was not opposed to the train, for the "fun" of it, so that's what we did.
We did some sightseeing in Montreal when we first arrive and went to my friend's college that evening for a wonderful weekend visit. I'm still friends with her today.
We left her college in New York early on the last day and headed back to Montreal. After we returned our rental vehicle near the train station and collected our luggage, his plan was to sit and wait for the train.
Having always been a huge foodie, I was determined to eat in a French restaurant. At that point, I had never tried French food. I have since eaten in amazing French restaurants in New York City before or after Broadway shows or seeing an opera at the Metropolitan with a man I was with after my divorce.
I also ate at the French pavilion in Epcot in Florida on a trip with my kids.
I found a quaint place not far from the train station. Of course, we had to bring our luggage in with us as we had nowhere to leave it. Luckily, we were the only customers. It was obviously off hours, and the staff put the luggage in a back corner for us.
The wait staff only spoke French or at least would only speak to us in French. If they spoke English, they didn't let on. The menu was written in French with no translation. We had no clue what we were ordering. We just pointed and prayed.
To me it was an adventure. Like on Christmas morning. I loved surprises.
We sat at the small table awaiting our food. The air was filled with rich aromas of magical dishes being prepared in the kitchen. A tiny candle flickered in the corner on our table in the dimly lit dining room. Next to that was a little dish with large, thick pats of food on it.
I was chatting away, excited for our French food adventure, all the while looking at the thick pats on the plate. I couldn't decide if it was cheese or butter. I couldn't ask staff and my then boyfriend wouldn't have known, so I said nothing, but kept eyeing the plate.
As I was talking, the boyfriend picked up one of the pats, took a big bite and put it down. I kept on with the conversation as he ate, barely paying me any mind. He was not exactly a conversationalist.
Once I was done with what I was saying, I watched him closely.
"Is that cheese or butter?" I asked.
"It's butter," he responded, in a monotone with a blank face. He was sitting there playing it off like he hadn't just taken a huge bite of butter.
But I found it rather hysterical. At his revelation, I took a fit of laughter. One of those laughing events where you can't catch your breath and your stomach hurts and the more you try not to laugh, the harder you laugh.
Of course, he sat there, not even a giggle, still trying to pretend he wasn't eating butter by the pound.
A bread basket came out and I spread a little butter from the pat onto my bread (I could eat everything back then.) My hand shook as I spread and my belly jiggled. I was still laughing.
He chose not to indulge,
I can't remember what his meal was, but mine was a delicious pasta dish. It was a nice surprise. I giggled through most of the meal but managed to enjoy.
Me at the train station awaiting our train.
We had enough time to savor our meals and still had to wait a bit for the train in Montreal. As I sat there, chuckling to myself and contemplating our lunch adventure, I realized it's always good to try new things. Take a chance. Point and pray and see what turns up. But never, ever take a huge bite of anything unless you are absolutely sure of what it is first.
Based on true events.
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