According to Sydney Smith (a long-dead clergyman), heaven is “eating pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets”.

Today I was sitting in one of my favourite riverside restaurants with the deafening drumming of rain on the corrugated iron roof. Across the river was a magnificent Thai temple, gold paint glittering in the half light. Nearby was a sugar palm, its lollipop shape stark against the gloomy sky. And the river ferry carried on its work, taking motorcycles and passengers across the river, to-and-fro, to-and-fro.

I was waiting for my lunch: steamed pork spare ribs with soy sauce topped with finely chopped green chillies and garlic, a smoky, warm salad of grilled aubergines with minced pork and prawns, and some plain rice.

It then struck me that this has become so normal for me; I no longer look upon the temples with awe or feel thrilled by the brilliant food.

One can have too much even of foie gras to the trumpets’ clarion call.


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