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The Diary of Anne Ku


30 May 2000 Tuesday dry, amazingly!

I am one of those food hackers who likes to try out new restaurants, sample the exotic dishes, and try to figure out how to make them when I get home.  I used to say to my dates, "The more often you take me out, the finer the cuisine, the better the food I'd cook for you."  My cooking has become a hodge podge of all the places I've been to and eaten at.  However, lately eating out is no longer a treat.

After California and Singapore, I'm pampered to expect to eat in a smoke-free environment.  There is no such rule in Europe.  In London, even the poshest restaurants do not have a separate smoking section.  As a result, I have to cross my fingers while I eat, hoping that no one will start smoking next to me.  In Quaglino's, supposedly one of the earlier designer restaurant-cum-bars in the Green Park/Piccadilly area, the receptionist apologised that she could not get us a non-smoking table, but would make sure that we were seated in a smoke-free zone.   Initially, that was.  Arriving with the dessert were two well-dressed couples who got seated next to us.  That was when my trepidation started.  No sooner than my second bite into the delicious white chocolate mousse, one of the ladies lit her cigarette.  I motioned to my date to do something. Being a gentleman, he hesitated, and only turned to the lady after I pressed on his foot.

"Please.  Would you mind?"

The lady put out her cigarette.  Flipping her hair to the other side, she made a loud sarcastic comment to her friends.  "I just don't understand why nonsmokers would sit here."

This irritated me greatly.  I dropped my spoon and turned to her.  With all the fierceness I could muster up, I lashed back: "We DID ask for a nonsmoking table.  But this restaurant does not have one."

Needless to say, they spoiled our evening.   Nowadays, I venture to restaurants so unpopular that even smokers avoid.