Lunch endeavours to take you back to the 18th century

First, I want to thank all of you who told me where to find “Northanger Abbey.” There are obviously a great many Jane Austen fans in the world. Some of you were quite surprised that I couldn’t find the book. That is because I forgot to mention that I only tried second-hand book stores. I like once-read books. Fitz, from Washington, said he has an extra copy, so he is sending me one. That means it will be second-hand, so I am happy.

I used a version of a three-letter verb in the preceding paragraph. It is a verb that Jane used in her writing only to describe an attempt that failed or probably would fail. The verb is try, and it is a verb that is used by reporters and news anchors to describe what President Obama is currently doing. According to our newspeople, Obama never actually does anything. He tries to do the thing. At least if Austen were describing his actions she would say, “President Obama endeavoured to…” (fill in the space). Try implies a possible, even probable failure. Endeavour suggests a determined effort and a positive outcome. Ah, well, as I have said before, language and the meaning of words have changed.

But speaking of three-letter words, who else has discovered the three-letter English word that has more definitions in the dictionary than any other word of any length? I found this very interesting. A little hint: it serves as a verb, a noun and an adjective.

If some day you would endeavor to enjoy a luxurious lunch at a luxurious price, I suggest Le Chandelier in San Pedro/Los Yoses near the ICE building. It is an elegant French restaurant, and recently my friend Doug and I had lunch there. The dining rooms are small, and you might find yourselves the only diners, so you can easily pretend that you are very rich (and living in the 18th century) and that this is your dining room and the beautifully set table with the one red rose in the vase has been prepared just for you. The several other tables in the room also are beautifully set with their own roses, which I must admit later brought to mind a fractured form of Thomas Gray’s “Ellegy in a Graveyard, “. . . many a rose is born to blush unseen in Le Chandelier.”

However, that means you have your own staff, a butler and waiter, at your immediate beck and call, even unobtrusively checking at the door anticipating your every need, ready to freshen your drink or bring more bread. Your main course will have interesting side dishes like a ratatouille stuffed baked tomato and crisp fried strips of beet, as well as the usual vegetables.

And you will enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner without the appearance of the bill to interrupt you until you call for it. (A pleasure enjoyed in most Costa Rican restaurants). The bill will be high, but the experience worth every colon.

Aside from that pleasure, my world was in a contrarian mood. On another day I yearned to find a sidewalk café and read or write in the fresh air. At the bus stop every bus I normally take and have to wait for, came by in pairs, the Pavas bus — the one I wanted — which always appears, didn’t. I had decided upon Plaza Rohrmoser because the second floor balcony has many cafes. Not one was open, even though it was 11 a.m. Painters were everywhere. I walked around a while and finally took a bus back to where I started. Then I remembered that the Te con Te Café not far from my apartment had some tables outside, complete with umbrellas.

I ordered a cappuccino and cinnamon bun. Mainly cars, but few pedestrians passed by, but I was at a sidewalk café. Proportionately, the bill was about the same as Le Chandelier. There are no free lunches anymore. But here is another free hint about that three-letter word: I have used it in this column.

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