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Various Fancies

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Lord, he missed Carlo’s. Foyle recognized that he was likely to be idealizing the restaurant since its destruction, but the difference between the small, handwritten menu with a few items—minestrone, osso bucco, pasta carbonara, the insalate without specification, the dressing unmentioned, exquisite—and the Woolworth’s veritable encyclopedia of sturdy English standards, every pudding served hot and drenched with custard sauce, yawned like a chasm. Like the Grand Canyon Kieffer had spoken of in the States. Rationing was difficult for one, difficult for many he supposed but rissoles proliferated on menus and households, and he found himself at Woolworth’s or the like on too many nights when he couldn’t face his nearly bare larder, conjuring a meal from its scant contents a Herculean effort. He wasn’t as hungry as the young people; he couldn’t help noticing not only Sam’s perpetual hunger but also the way Milner’s eyes brightened at the prospect of cakes with tea, the onion he’d won and agreed to share with their exuberant driver, Brookie’s gusto at eating even the most unpalatable mess. Foyle missed a bowl of Carlo’s soup, the color rich against the thick white pottery, herbs still green, the loaf served fresh, crust splitting with a little effort to reveal the lovely architecture, the dish of olive oil. The carafe of a passable Chianti, the single wine glass that was set before him without comment. The coffee for afters was served in a small cup, but it was brewed properly, strong, fragrant, and it never needed sugar or cream. He’d never had better and he supposed now, he never would.