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Taking Dessert to a Whole New Level (Part 2 of 5)

"No Secrets Between Us"

By MatthewKuszaPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 8 min read
Photo by Christian Araujo at Dreamstime.com

The restaurant’s atmosphere pulled Nick in like a cramped, rollicking dance floor blasting his favorite song at an unfamiliar club. The place was packed. Most navigated comfortably about, but he did spy a couple people looking overwhelmed and unsure. However, it was clear to him, everyone here considered the restaurant a sacred, festive space.

“Excuse me. A reservation for two. The name is Silveira.”

The hostess, behind the counter swaying to the music, turned around and smiled.

Mateus!”

Beleza, Ana. This is my friend, Nick.”

“Ahh, Olá, Nicolau.” she welcomed Nick warmly.

“How do you know Mateus?”

“We go to same college. We also both play together on the school’s soccer team.”

Mateus jumped in.

“A corner table, Ana? Please? You can ask more later. We’re starving! And…this is his first time here. I don’t want to overwhelm him.”

Ana and Mateus exchanged a knowing look.

“Alright then. I saved your favorite spot. Will that do?”

“Perfect!”

Mateus looked back at Nick with eyebrows raised.

“Ready? Hungry?”

“I think and definitely!”

“I caught that one! I understand. Us Brazilians can be a loud bunch, but we’re friendly.”

Ana led the men through the restaurant, past tables full of people eating, talking, drinking and laughing. Off in a far corner, there was a bar crowded with an uproarious throng of men bellowing intermittently at the televisions hanging above the liquor display.

“The Brazil, Germany game.” Nick noted.

“Yes. Always a full bar when Brazil plays.” Mateus responded.

“Sure, you two don’t want to be closer to the bar, so you can watch?” Ana asked.

“Nah, we can always stream it later. We’re here to initiation Nick into the ways of the churrasco.”

“Well, ok. Make sure you leave room for dessert.” Ana said to Nick with a wink.

Something about the wink caught him off guard.

“I will.” Nick replied faintly, scanning the room in awe.

At most tables sat couples and small parties. However, Nick’s eyes fixated on a larger table surrounded by what he assumed to be an extended family. It roiled and bubbled with activity spilling out beyond its confines. Small children milled about with a teenage girl in tow. A grandmother bounced a baby. A young couple held hands, gazing into each other’s eyes, ignoring everyone else. The rest of the party laughed and conversed loudly, as they ate and drank their fill.

“The Gaspar’s are celebrating Maria and José’s 30th anniversary.” Ana explained to Nick.

“Oh, sorry. I was staring, wasn’t I?”

“It’s hard not to. They’re making quite a scene.” she laughed.

They were led to a small table, covered with fine white linen, situated off in a corner. The candle on the table glowed invitingly with a rich amber hue.

“Here you are, Mateus. Enjoy! And welcome, Nico! I hope you have an empty stomach. Bom apetite!”

Ana excused herself and hurried off to tend to other customers. Mateus gestured towards the chairs closest to the wall.

“Let’s sit on this side, so we can watch all the action. Would you like that?”

“I’m following your lead.”

Nick’s eyes fixated on the massive rotisserie grill off to their left. Meats turned, sizzling, emanating a rich, savory aroma. Nick’s stomach growled. Not long after being seated, a waiter came to the table to fill their water glasses.

“Do like wine? Beer?” Mateus asked.

“What do you drink here? I like both.”

“Let’s have a red wine. It will compliment the ridiculous amount of beef we’re about to consume.”

“House red, Eduardo.”

“Sure thing, Mateus.”

The waiter walked away. Nick took a sip of water, taking everything in.

“How often do you eat here? You seem to know everyone.”

“I use to bus tables in high school.”

“Oh, I see.”

“Guess, you could say it’s in my blood.” Mateus said proudly.

“Nice. What are these things for?” Nick asked.

He was holding up a small square piece of cardboard. It was red on one side, green on the another.

“That’s how you signal you’ve had enough and when you want more.”

“Food?”

“Meat! Barbecue!” Mateus declared.

“Is that all we are eating?” Nick laughed.

“That’s what the place is famous for.”

Mateus gestured over to bountiful spread of various dishes.

“But, we’ll start there.”

“I love smorgasbords!”

Mateus smirked at Nick.

“Let me show you how it’s done.”

Leaving their quaint table behind, they ventured through the crowded restaurant to the line of people circling the buffet.

“Look at all this stuff!”

“I… start here.”

Mateus presented an elaborate array of salad fixings with an overly dramatic wave of his hand.

“Honestly, try to keep it simple. Start with a salad.”

“But, look at all the breads!”

“Yes… tasty, but remember we’re here for the churrasco. You don’t want to fill up too fast.”

Nick rolled his eyes.

“The amount of food I can consume is insane.”

“Me too! However, this will be a food marathon.”

Nick was bowled over by the variety. Before him were several greens, besides the expected romaine and iceberg, three types of anchovies, cheeses, and a myriad of vegetables, dressings, oils, spices, and pickled foods. There were grain-based dishes, such as tabbouleh, along with potato and pasta salads. Nick was surprised to see even hummus, tzatziki, baba ghanoush and guacamole.

“Plenty of healthy stuff here!” Nick laughed.

“Yep.”

Rounding the corner, they past more familiar brunch standards. Chafing dishes held entree choices, steamed vegetables, and potatoes. Two huge pots offered kale soup and a rich-smelling, broccoli-cheese bisque.

“What’s all that?”

Nick pointed to a rustic collection of pots clustered together, closer to the grill.

“That’s traditional Brazilian comfort food.”

The starchy aroma wafting towards Nick was punctuated with a spicy smokiness. Rice, beans, polenta and potatoes dominated the scene. Nick’s stomach growled upon seeing by the roast chicken and sausages. He remarked something that appeared out of place.

“Bananas?”

“Plantains.” Mat corrected.

“Ah. Never had it. And this?”

“Do you know what tripe is?”

“No.”

“Haggis from Scotland?”

“Stomaches or something?” Nick frowned.

“Yes, something close to that.” Mateus laughed.

Nick paused.

“I like to think I’m an adventurous eater, but I don’t know about that.”

“Eat what you want. Makes no difference to me. Some of these dishes were common among poorer folk during tough times. You’d be surprised. It’s tasty.”

“Most cultures seem to have at least one meal like that. My grandparents enjoy eating blood sausage. Yuck!”

“Exactly! You get it.”

Mateus grabbed Nick’s hand and pulled him along, steering him to the other side of the buffet.

“There’s more?!”

“This side is more eclectic. There’s even sushi!”

“Sushi?”

Nick became aware of a vague awkwardness as he held Mateus’ hand. This caught him off guard. He was out and proud and was puzzled to find himself feeling self-conscious. He chalked it up to being unfamiliar with the cultural norms of Brazilian-Americans. He hated stereotyping, but nevertheless found himself thinking Brazil was heavily influenced by Catholicism. He wondered if gays were accepted or even tolerated. Recognizing he was jumping to conclusions, he scolded himself. He studied his friend. Mateus’ carried himself with relaxed confidence. Reassured, Nick ignored the rest of the world and followed Mateus’ lead.

“Like what you see?”

Nick made a point of squeezing Mateus’ hand.

“Definitely.”

“I meant the food!”

“Yes, that too.”

Navigating through the crowd of patrons and waitstaff, they returned to their table. Mateus deliberately sat closer, pressing his knee against Nick’s. The two stared at one other, grinning. The waiter returned, presenting bottle of wine with a flourish. Mateus nodded approval.

Opening the bottle, the waiter asked, “How’s college? We miss you here at the restaurant.”

“School’s going well. Although, sometimes I’d prefer to be here, instead of doing homework. But, I know they’ll call me up to help if things get tight.”

Eduardo poured an inch of wine into a goblet and offered it to Mateus with a slight smirk.

“I know you don’t need to taste it.”

“No, we should give the grapes due reverence.”

Mateus raised his hand and peered discerning through the wine glass. A small, glittering, ruby-colored oval danced on the tablecloth, as the goblet reflected the subdued light from above. Mateus gave the wine a swirl.

“Nice legs.”

He slurped at the wine, contorting his mouth to slosh the wine over his tongue.

“Ah. Good. Still my favorite.”

Nick chuckled resting his head on his hand watching the scene. He flung his hands up to mimic a director sighting a scene.

“And….cut!”

Mateus laughed heartily.

“Have a thing for theatrics, I guess.”

Eduardo refilled Mateus’ glass and reached for Nick’s glass.

“Would you like to give it a taste first too?”

“That’s ok. I trust Mat’s palate.”

“Mat?”

“My bad, Mateus. Did I pronounce that wrong?”

Mateus.

Eduardo repeated with a beautiful accent. He spoke in Portuguese to Mateus, who became abruptly stony-faced.

“I never have and never will forget my roots, Eduardo.”

Lightening the mood, Mateus smiled throwing his arm around Nick.

“Besides, I’m helping Nick become trilingual. He already speaks English and French.”

Eduardo passed off Nick’s glass with a flourish and a slight bow.

“Any friend of Mateus is always welcome here. Should I assume you’re having the buffet tonight?”

“Yes, I want Nick to experience the churrasco.”

“I will leave you to it then. Wave me over when you are ready for coffee and dessert.”

Before walking away Eduardo whispered something else in Portuguese. Mateus’ visage darkened briefly.

Foda-se ela!” Mateus groused.

He waved Eduardo away with his hand, as if shooing away an annoying fly. With the waiter gone, Mateus turned all his attention to Nick.

“Ready to storm the buffet?”

“Sure! Sounds ominous. But, what was that bit of drama between the two of you at the end there?”

“Oh, I’ve been around this restaurant, since before I can remember and began working here as soon as I was old enough. Brazilians, as a rule, are a tight-knit group. We can be overly protective of family and friends.”

“I see…and Eduardo doesn’t approve of me.”

Mateus raised his glass to clink it against Nick’s.

“No. He said nothing like that. Besides, I could care less whether or not he approves. Don’t read too much into him.”

“Well, whatever he said appeared to irritate you.”

"Here’s to our first date.” Mateus said changing the subject.

“Fine, Mr. Mysterious. Keep your secrets. To our first date then!”

The clinking wine glasses chimed. Mateus finished his wine with a mighty gulp.

Eduardo warned me that my former boyfriend came in a while ago and is rapidly getting drunk at the bar. I didn’t want to trouble you with old drama. But, there’s no secrets between us.”

Read "Taking Dessert to a Whole New Level" (Part 3). Click here!

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About the Creator

MatthewKusza

Star Wars Fan! Dungeons & Dragons Geek! Love history! Probably born a hundred years too late, I relish anything from 19th and early 20th century. View world through lens of Tolkein's mythology. Pretty simple, I write about what I love.

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