Day 5

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"So you come here a lot?" asks 'Jessica', a hint of skepticism in her voice.

"You could say that," I reply disinterestedly, focusing my camera on a particularly crunchy-looking fritta.

"I mean, I don't hate Olive Garden or anything, but I don't see why you were so insistent about it. There's a really cool new taphouse downtown." As she's talking, I nod at Sharon, the hostess, who waves back happily.

'Jessica' doesn't really get it, I can already tell, and this dinner would be a complete waste if it weren't for the real beauty in front of me - "Ophelia". Still, I want to make her understand, if only to avoid sitting in complete silence.

I want to tell her that Olive Garden is the perfect restaurant. That it blends together the Platonic ideals of Italian culture: family, hospitality, and breadsticks - with those of American culture: consumption, self-determination, and thrift. That it perfectly balances its menu so that people of all walks of life can spend as much or as little as they want to eat more food than can possibly be healthy. Most of all, that while love can bloom anywhere, it flourishes most easily where people share food together.

I want to tell her these things, but Bridget, ever the perfect waitress, has just arrived with another basket of breadsticks, and the moment is gone. I sigh.

"I guess I just really like pasta."

Lunch was "Juliet".

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:

"Ophelia"
"Imogen"
"Katherina"

As Bridget boxes up our leftovers, I avoid eye contact with 'Jessica' so that it's easier for her to lie to me about how she has to help her friend with something, and that she's very sorry that she doesn't have time for the movie we planned.

A special thanks to my dining companion, 'Jessica', who declined to have her name or photo appear on the blog.

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Pasta Combination Selector