Fois, fois, fois… hmmmm I know that. I know that one… No. It’s gone.

Agneau… I know this one.

‘That’s lamb…’ I say with the confidence of someone who got an A* for GCSE French back in 1994.

‘Ok,great, great,’ the American says, peeling his menu out of my hands, ‘I’ll go with the lamb.’

I sit back in my seat. There is only about 3 mm between our table and the American’s table so I hold my menu up over my face and whisper to John,

‘Dude,’ I say, ‘You’re the one who was born in France…you couldn’t have helped me out a little?’

‘You’re just too damn fast, I was about to and then you were half way through the menu.’

He takes a sip of wine then leans forward so he can really whisper, ‘You did tell him that fois is liver right?’

‘Errr …’ I look at him in horror then at the menu. Fois. As in Fois Gras. I knew I knew it.  Shit.

I look at the American guy who is now sitting there expectantly waiting for lamb chops, or a nice, juicy rack of ribs and who’s about to be served offal. 3mm seems suddenly very close quarters. I wonder whether I should offer to swop him my steak. But I don’t want liver.

‘You have to tell him,’ John says.

My eyes grow wide like saucers. ‘I’m not telling him. You tell him.’

John shakes his head at me. I sip my wine and look at the floor whilst John turns to the American.

‘Um, excuse me,’ he says, ‘I’m not sure if you realise but the lamb is actually lamb’s liver.’

I want to die. I think of offering to get him some chianti and fava beans to have with it. I sip my wine some more and keep studying the tiles on the floor.

‘Oh right,’ the guy says.

He is very congenial but then he switches into Japanese to talk to his boyfriend and I think I can guess what they’re saying. But, I want to say, it’s not like I made you order blow fish and anyway you can’t even speak French. You can’t even say s’il vous plait. So really it’s your own fault. Offal is your punishment for thinking that American is the only language in the world.

He talks some more fluent Japanese to his boyfriend.

When the liver arrives I watch out the corner of my eye as he dices it and steers it around his plate like he’s trying to find somewhere to park it. He reverses some under his side salad. And he slips some onto his boyfriend’s plate when he isn’t looking. I can’t enjoy my steak I feel so bad. Plus, in the Karmic way of the universe my request for ‘rare’ has been translated as ‘still moo-ing.’ My steak is so raw it’s cold and I can’t eat it.

I lean over, ‘The mousse au chocolat is really good…That’s chocolate mousse by the way.’ (A* French).

He orders that too just to be polite. I don’t think he trusted me to translate the rest of the dessert menu.

When we get back to the hotel I make a note to download some iphone translation apps and some dictionaries.

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