(///arts.healthier.wonderfully – Brick Lane, London)
People booked months in advance. They travelled the length of the country. They flooded social media with their thoughts.
Gillian’s Chicken Du Jour, the most talked about meal in the country. Shatteringly crisp skin encasing wonderfully moist flesh, a medley of vegetables, some fried, some healthier, and three sauces of piquant sourness and salty bitterness.
But what was the mystery ingredient, the one which attracted the hordes?
Gillian quizzed the diners every night, but nobody could tell her the correct answer.
“Tabasco!” screamed one.
“Wild garlic,” insisted another.
“Passion,” shouted a man who had watched too many TV cooking competitions.
The answer was in a sealed envelope in a secure frame on the wall of Gillian’s restaurant. She had promised a prize to whoever got it right. She was confident she would never have to pay out.
Until the food critic Bernie Noble strolled in. He knew the dark arts of the food industry and was not seduced by the smell or the taste.
He knew exactly why people wanted to boast about having eaten Chicken Du Jour.
“You’re charging people £200 a pop for a piece of poultry,” he said. “The magic ingredient, the one which really makes them come, is the price.”
Gillian stared ruefully at him and headed towards the frame. Never mind, she thought. Imagine how many people will pay £300 for the world’s greatest trifle.