We were sitting at dinner in a small restaurant, having just had an excellent Waldorf salad and an antipasta plate, a nearly perfect dinner for a cool California evening, watching the sun set, watching people walk by on the street outside, strolling in the fading light of evening. Then, suddenly, without preamble, we were in the land of the Twilight Gods.
The waiter brought us the dessert menu. I opted for a slice of fudge cake ala mode, topped with shaved almonds. She ordered the goblin strawberries.
A dozen images flashed through my mind in quick succession. The principle one, the one I enjoyed the most, was straight out of Lord of the Rings. I imagined Goblins harvesting massive and juicy strawberries in a secret valley, where sycamore trees draped in spanish moss sheltered the hidden harvest and the air was rich with the scent of deep dark loam.
Goblin strawberries are best served chilled, on a bed of finely shaved ice, drizzled with fresh cream and sprinkled with mint. Being the size of apples, four or five make up a hearty desert. They are eaten with an antique silver dessert fork, scrimmed with an alphabet lost to the mists of time.
The dessert of course was actually a goblet of strawberries. Whether she said Goblin strawberries or whether I heard Goblin strawberries doesn't really matter. What mattered is, for a brief moment, on a street in San Jose, as we lingered over dessert, the Twilight Gods smiled.