This time around, I did my own meal ordering. At the end of a long day of plant tours and interviews, I settled in to the hotel dining room, looking forward to a simple meal by myself and some time to gather my thoughts. I think I got here (the restaurant, not Germany) at the end of the blue plate special. I believe a female customer was having a serious hot flash, but perhaps it was just the bill.
I find a seat off to one side, a quiet table to myself, yet close enough to observe the rest of the restaurant while I eat my meal. The decor in the restaurant resembles "Early European Grandma". Sheer white curtains and valances hang on all the windows. Each table is topped by white, double tablecloths, then further topped by floral tablecloths, they resemble table-sized doilies. Candles are lit on every table but mine. My table shares its top with a small Grandma-esque lamp. Along the window ledges and various odd furniture throughout the restaurant are ceramic pieces, mostly cats and ducks, some elephants and porcelain children. Each table has its own porcelain goos, bird or duck on it.
My waitress approaches. I am determined to stun her with my command of her native language. Instead, I stutter and point, speaking in English. I order a split porkloin, salad and a glass of the local red wine. There is another single woman in the dining room. She has ordered a beer in a tall pilsner glass. It looks good.
The street outside looks warm and green. It's just past 7.30 p.m and summer has a foothold in Remschein.
Back inside, one young ponytail man is speaking quite earnestly with an English-speaking woman. He's told her he was raised in Belgium, bordering France. Is that a common pickup line, I wonder? Does it require an accent?
In addition to ponytail man and girl, and beer-drinking woman, we have a mixed party of six, and an elder party of 4. The elder party are split along sexist lines - the men talk to the men and the women drink wine and talk to each other. The party of six includes 4 men and two women, they all quietly converse. The beer-businesswoman has had her dinner and enjoys her beer as she reads from a small paperback. Two men directly behind me remain relatively silent throughout their meal. I can hear the slicing of meat, the chewing of food, and the clink clank of silverware on plates. They are Indian or Pakistani.
I'm thankful I could translate the menu, because my pork looks delicious. It's lightly breaded, then baked with ham, tomato and cheese. Dinner is simple, yet amazing. The pork is juicy and tender, yet crispy and tasty along all the edges. I take my time with my salad and pork, knowing this is my last night in Remschein.
The sound of the women's voices feels like an undertow. Their constant murmurring undulates beneath the strength of the baritones in the room.
I order a second glass of wine, so I can stay in this warm place, where people are sharing stories. Voices rise and fall in waves. I find myself enjoying the conversation of others, though I can't understand much of what I hear. Bitte, danke and nein stand out amongst the other German words I can't translate. Ponytail man and his date get up to leave. Three skinny young men take their place. My evening in Remschein ends.