We had a great dinner yesterday evening. Even the obvious racism didn't detract too much from the food, the ambience and the company.
It was my Lovely Paris Friend's birthday and we went out to La Coupole. In the Parisian world of good old-fashioned brasseries, La Coupole is one of the kings - real vieille école stuff - with amazing service and great food.
The waiters are in bow-tie and dinner suit, and they all come together to sing happy birthday to you - if you organise this in advance. I didn't, but someone at a table nearby did, so hopefully LPF got a bit of vicarious pleasure from this...
Anyway, entrées of oysters and prawns were fantastic and we followed this with two of the main courses for which the house is famous. LPF took the steak tartare, I went for the lamb curry.
What happened next surprised me. Now, I worry that I am being totally anglo-saxon in my reaction to this. I've asked French colleagues this morning and they think it is perfectly acceptable and that it is in fact 'typique'. This is what happened:
The waiter who had served us all evening came with the steak tartare for LPF and presented it with a flourish. My lamb curry didn't appear.
What did appear was an Indian man - yes, a man from India - wearing a maharajah's outfit - yes, a maharajah's outfit - wielding a silver domed trolley.
With a muttering of something like "your curry, sir", he pulled back the cover of the trolley and proceeded to serve up the curry from within. He did this with impeccable style and class, but nonetheless I couldn't get away from the nagging thought at the back of my mind...
...they have employed an Indian and dressed him up in 'Indian' clothes just so that he can serve curry to the middle classes?
What worries me is that I'm seemingly the only one who thinks this is wrong.