The waiter in the pink shirt served the tea, lifting the pot a foot above the little green glass and pouring with artistic precision. I glanced across at my husband, still trying to banish feelings of guilt about eating Moroccan in the heart of Provence, but he was lolling in his chair in satiated contentment, apparently harbouring no such qualms.
The evening before, I had discovered with pleasant surprise, that despite my previous misgivings, Cavaillon, possessed a lively night life and a good selection of restaurants. My Dad had slipped us a few euros on the way out the door telling us to treat ourselves, so we chose something that was upmarket and Provencal, hoping to get a flavour of the local countryside that had held us so captivated during the first part of our visit.
The plates were large, triangular and modern and when the starter arrived, it was a treat for the palate and the eyes. Chilled courgette mousse and caviar of aubergine with a sprinkling of alfalfa, was presented with flair. Unfortunately, I belatedly noticed that a strange culinary law seemed to be in play: the dimensions of the tableware were directly proportionate to the size of the servings. The larger the dish, the more diminutive the portion. My entrée would probably have fitted onto a dessert spoon.
By the end of the main course I had begun chewing unabashedly on the decorative sprig of coriander, swallowing it with large mouthfuls of homemade bread. The long wait between courses, imposed I imagine to encourage a gentle digestion, meant that I had time to work up an appetite. I reflected ironically, that the meal was a lot like Provence itself: inspiring, colourful, expensive, and leaving you hungry for more.
Of course, this wasn’t the reason that we chose to dine on specialities from Marrakech in St. Rémy de Provence, but I must admit to a small pang of relief when I saw that the plates were small and round.
I stepped heavily out of the restaurant and was instantly hit by sunshine and great gusts of Mistral. All traces of the torrential rain that had plagued our journey out of the Alps had been blown away. Getting into the car, I studied the map with enthusiasm. Stuffed to the gunnels with couscous, I now felt capable of doing justice to the last halt on our whistle-stop tour; navigating the sun-kissed walls of Le Château des Baux.