My wife Lanying paid me the ultimate compliment this evening. It was her birthday so we went for dinner at a restaurant called Randall & Aubin in Soho. It’s a seafood restaurant. Lanying is from the south of China, a province called Fujian, where they eat a lot of fresh fish and especially many different types of crab. She loves crab and it’s the thing she misses most about China so we ordered a seafood platter with mussels, whelks, oysters, prawns, scallops, langoustines and a huge fresh crab.
Her sun sign is also, of course, The Crab, so it was very satisfying on her birthday to watch her hold this huge red shell against her beautiful moon face and slurp the insides out.
And then came the compliment. “I will only eat crab with you,” she said.
“Thank you, darling. Do you mean it?”
“Of course. I can’t eat it with anyone else. I would worry too much about my table manners.”
“I’m glad you feel relaxed with me,” I said, attacking a claw with my knife handle.
Our vigilant waitress was perturbed by my actions and touched my arm lightly. “Let me get you some crackers, darling,” she said.
The waitress’s name, according to my receipt, is Susuluscious.
“I’m really sorry about the mess,” I told her as she cleared away my debris.
“Oh don’t worry about that, dear. You’re eating seafood. If there wasn’t any mess I’d worry.”
So reassuring. She called me dear and darling. She touched my arm tenderly. She watched me eat crab without flinching. Thank you, Susuluscious. A waitress I could grow to love. So rare, in London.
But she never paid me the ultimate compliment: “I will only eat crab with you.”