Each year Chez Mathilde restaurant reverently welcomes the arrival of the young wine, Beaujolais Nouveau, with its colorful bottle label, and pretty ruby content. Each year we discuss whether the flavor is that of bananas or raspberry, as the wine is supposed to be fruity. The annual Chez Mathilde happening always starts with a champagne toast on the sidewalk, then when the wine bottles are delivered via the chimney, a horse-drawn carriage or a KLM freight container, the first one is popped by a dignitary. In past years famed wine connoisseurs, ministers and government officials were assigned to the corkscrew and the sommelier’s cup. After the first careful, restrained tasting, it would usually go downhill, as buckets of the unrefined liquid pour down thirty throats, the foreplay for a memorable meal.
Chez Mathilde annually orchestrates an elegant banquet lacing all dishes with the just-arrived fruit juice and the next morning patrons all agree they’ve had a ball, already looking forward for the following year. This year, tradition was broken with comedienne Tica Baha Bao, a Creole heroine, fresh from the cunucu, the countryside, arriving in mock-grand style, wrapped up in tri-color feathered boas, titer-tottering on ridiculously high-heeled shoes. Tica who has her own comedy show here, on TV, fussed and fumbled emerging from the limo door, as she was warmly greeted by restaurant owners, Landa & Raoul Henriquez.
Speaking Papiamento with a faux-French accent she spoofed her hosts, the cuisine, the occasion and the Minister of Infrastructure, Marisol Tromp, whose place she was taking. Tears were rolling off spectator’s eyes, when this noisy peasant, an insult to elegance and dining etiquette sailed through the gilded doors, as the Beaujolais Nouveau’s guest of honor. When the bottle was uncorked she gargled and swooshed, a la Listerine-commercials, finally spitting a mouthful into a silver champagne bucket. The clincher was the true-to-life detail, when Tica produced a small empty jar from her pouf purse, collecting all wine leftovers ‘Pa Traja Bolo.’
She was going to bake cake at home after the reception, she explained and in adherence to thrifty Aruban ways, was saving the wine for the mix. I can attest to the fact that Frenchman Raphael Matinaud, the brand development manager for the house of Barton & Guestier, was holding his sides to prevent them from splitting. He was throwing his head back, howling; in all the years laboring to carefully hone the upscale image of the first harvest, he has never encountered such blasphemous behavior, such outlandish antics. Naturally, we had a fantastic time, Landa, you outdid yourself. Hats off.