TSO and I are entertaining in-laws of various denominations at a local Chinese restaurant. We've proceeded from the starters, through the duck course, to the mains.
As the waitress starts to bring the main courses out, she announces that she is sorry, but there is no more steamed rice.
As one, we glance at one another, then at the dish of egg fried rice, quietly steaming on the lazy Susan, then back at the waitress.
"You've run out of rice?" Someone asks.
"Boiled rice, yes," admits the waitress. "And beansprouts."
"So what can we have?"
"Plain noodles," the waitress suggests. "Noodles, onions, beansprouts."
"So there's really no rice?" Another someone persists.
"Erm, excuse me, did you say beansprouts?" Someone else asks.
"Yes, fried rice," the waitress responds. "Special fried rice, yes."
"So you have special fried rice?"
The waitress does a very prompt volte-face and we are left staring at one another, various stages of incredulity on our faces.
"They've run out of rice -"
"- in a Chinese restaurant?"
"Boiled rice. They have special fried rice."
We look at our plates and dishes, wondering just how freshly prepared the food is.
The lazy Susan remains motionless.