I spent decades as an advertising copywriter learning how to turn a negatives into positives. Like last night’s dinner, for example.
It sounds very romantic if I say, “We dined under the stars at les roulottes.” But the reality of the situation is summed up far more accurately in the words “We ate in the dark at the food trucks.”
Air New Zealand summed up what the experience was supposed to be like:
A highlight of urban eating in Tahiti is food truck dining, which is deliciously inexpensive. A fleet of roulottes (that’s French for food trucks) parks along the Papeete waterfront at night. They’ve fed people for close to 30 years, so you can be sure that every recipe has been improved to the point of perfection. Best roulette eats include crepes, galettes, poisson cru, steak frites, sashimi with homemade brown sauce, and much more. A band plays in the nearby rotunda every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
I know they been around for a lot longer than thirty years because I ate at the food trucks back on November 26, 1970. I can pinpoint the exact date because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Tahiti, so I went to the trucks and substituted fried chicken for my mom’s roasted turkey and stuffing.
But enough ancient history. What about last night? What happens when you’re at the roulottes and the electricity goes out all over Papeete and dining under the stars turns into dining in the dark?
People adjust. In the case of the young French couple with whom we shared a table, a cell phone shining up through a bottle of flavored water became très romantique.
People at other tables also improvised with their cell phones.
The kitchen staff at our roulotte never missed a beat under difficult circumstances. At one point the chef provided her own illumination by holding her cell phone in her mouth to free up both hands.
Halfway through dinner a few of the neighborhood’s lights flickered back to life.
It was my idea to eat at the roulottes and doing it in the dark definitely diminished the experience. But it provided a whole different kind of experience that we will never forget.