T. and I are celebrating a special occasion. We always seem to be; our good fortune calls for celebrating as frequently as possible. So on a rainy night in the Scottish capital, we head for The Cellar Door, a vaguely nautical-looking basement restaurant that promises especially good food.
Our table discussion turns to taxes and the morality of avoiding them. I say that nobody likes paying taxes and some taxes seem truly unfair, but as long as they are the law, then the only thing I can do is pay them, while working to change them (and any law that is unfair). I think this is part of the Discreet Traveler mentality. As I am a citizen of two countries, and resident in a third, being a "good citizen" means different things to me than perhaps to a homegrown patriot. I am a guest in this country. Paying taxes, and obeying laws, are how I participate in a nation, not owing allegiance. I don't expect to agree with policies for which I didn't vote. I honor the requirements of the country for as long as I choose to live here.
This is getting a bit heavy so we order some drinks. T. has Tiger beer from Singapore, while I have a white wine, a Gewürztraminer from Chile. Chilean is my favorite white, and the waitress says this particular wine is her favorite on their list. It is very good, as is the first course of The Cellar Door's "surprise menu," a smoked salmon spring roll. How nouvelle écossaise. This is followed by another Tiger and a ribeye steak for T., and a glass of merlot and the surprise main course for me. She finds the steak a little thin, but cooked the way she ordered it, and my lamb is out of this world. The greens are very good too, as are my mashed potatoes. T. thinks the excellent chips (fries) must be double fried, to get them so crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
I am tempted to go for all three surprise courses, but opt instead for cheese with port for dessert. I have what my sister describes as a "cheese tooth." Even T., who has the sticky toffee pudding, can't resist the cheddar, which is called Isle of Mull--crumbly texture like a Cheshire cheese. All the cheeses are Scottish, and served with Arran oatcakes. Another principle of the Discreet Traveler: Whenever you have the opportunity, sample local.
The waitress brings the bill, not outrageous. and I note that she hasn't charged me for the glass of red wine. "Thank you!" she says. "Not everybody would have mentioned that."
Well, we were just talking about this, the Honest Abe mentality (Abraham Lincoln was said to have walked miles back to repay a shopkeeper who'd given him too many pennies).
"I can't help it," I say, and she agrees, she's the same way. If she'd overcharged me, I certainly would have complained. You can take the girl out of America, but...
Tomorrow I'm off to my day job, and T. is off to buy Isle of Mull cheddar cheese.