Imagine a wooden platter. Strips of fried bread. Chunks of cheese. Cloves of raw and pickled garlic. Slices of pig tongue. Crunchy strips of pig ear. Wedges of snout sausage. A separate platter has a long strip of crispy pork belly, part-cut at intervals, so it's easily torn into chunks. Soused herring and girolles. Goose crackling. Pickles of all sorts.
And that's just the beer snacks. To go with the long line of pints. With doubleshot vodka chasers.
Then out comes the main course. It's called "Pitchfork". Because a life-size pitchfork is used as a meat skewer. Its 3 prongs hold 6 palm-sized steaks; 2 beef, 2 pork, 2 chicken, each about an inch and a half thick. The drippings get caught by a platter of roasted courgettes, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes on a wooden platter, held below the pitchfork leaned and fixed at an incline.
This is the exact moment I missed you -- my lovely fellow food dorks -- most (among many moments) on this trip so far. This is why we all need to go back to Vilnius in Lithuania, to the cellar tavern Zemaiciai. So that we can order the same. So that I don't have to just gawk shamelessly at the table of 5 portly and increasingly ruddy-faced Lithuanian "uncles" seated at the table next to us. With enough of us, we might even be able to order other things on the menus. Magical things called "Half-metre eel" and "Half-metre sausage".
But you're not here. So on this evening Babs and I are destined for humbler fare. Namely, the Zeppelin platter aka the Stodge Sampler -- potato derivatives done 5 ways: 1) Pancakes; 2) Plain boiled dumpling, 3) Meat dumpling, 4) Curd cheese dumpling, and 5) Mashed, stuffed with mincemeat, then breaded and fried. Served on a bed of mild horseradish, and with a bowl of sourcream.
It's occured to me I've never seen Babs thump his fist on the table to motivate himself to keep eating through the pain -- the result of eating everything on his preceding very delectable herring starter plate. Yes, including the 3 boiled potatos, and all the sourcream in the onion cup.
But he did eat through the pain. We both did. And waddled back to our hostel feeling (and no doubt looking) like Zeppelins. And then! Came back the next day for lunch, backpacks and daysacks and all, just before we got on the bus to Riga.
And this time we sat outside. And got the beer snacks. Wahey!
We stank on the bus all the way to Latvia. And couldn't stop grinning the entire way.
But we still need you to pitch in on the mains.