Even though she wasn’t hungry and had said that she wasn’t hungry, Xochitl did get a plate and like most buffet diners, piled it with far more food that she was actually capable of consuming. She was already eating when Dominic returned to their table, balancing three plates.
“You know, you can make more than one trip,” she said.
He carefully set out the platters. On the first, he had a Denver omelets and a piece of ham. On the second was a waffle and two cheese blintzes, all covered in syrup. The third plate had two pieces of buttered toast and a small pile of grits. After sitting down, the FBI agent looked around expectantly.
“She’ll be around to get your drink order in a few minutes,” said Xochitl. “We can go ahead and start eating.”
He frowned, but turned his attention to his food and began carefully cutting it into pieces. The omelet, the ham, and the waffle were all transformed into small triangular bites.
“I got pancakes,” said Xochitl. “I know I said I wasn’t hungry, but you can’t say no to pancakes.”
“I don’t really like pancakes,” he said.
“You’re kidding. I’ve never actually met anyone who didn’t like pancakes before. How about hotcakes?”
“That’s the same thing.”
“You have a waffle. Don’t waffles taste pretty much just like a pancakes?”
“Waffles are airier,” he said. “And pancakes are round. I don’t really like round food.”
“Those blintzes are round.”
“They’re cylindrical, though granted, when I cut them up the pieces will be round—bite-sized though. I don’t mind so much it they’re bite-sized.” He looked around again for the server. It was not a woman who waited on them but an older black man in a white apron.
“What can I get you to drink?” he asked as he approached.
“A glass of milk and an orange juice,” said Xochitl.
“Water,” Dominic said.
Xochitl was almost full before the waiter brought her drinks, though that didn’t cause her any discomfort, unlike Dominic. He didn’t begin eating until he had his water, and by that time Xochitl thought that his food might well be cold, though he didn’t complain about it. Just as she expected, he took a sip of his beverage after every three bites of his meal. He ate his ham, then his omelet, then his waffle, blintzes, toast, and at last he started in on his grits.
“What is that?”
“How can you eat that? Nobody even knows what that is.”
“It’s grits. It’s made of corn.”
“It doesn’t look like corn.”
“Of course it does,” he said. “Look closely. It’s very much like corn meal. They shuck the corn, soak it in a weak lye solution, dry it, grind it, and reconstitute it with boiling water. Some people eat it with sugar, but in the south we eat it with butter, salt, and pepper.”
“What are you talking about? You’re not from the south.”
“I started eating grits when I was at Virginia Beach.” He gave her a studied frown. “If we’re done talking about my food, I’d like to know something about your case.”