For lunch, you take him to the Greasy Spoon. No joke—that is its real name—but the food, you swear, is good. Still, the dead, almost-gem-like bodies of flies in the windowsill play their part in the mise en scène. I will drink only waterToday is for simplicity, he says, his voice a cross between a head of state and an oddly reticent TV news anchor. He asks about your wife and you tell him about that anthropology course on food and her class presentation on sex and cuisine. You recall her saying that in some cultures, cooking skills are prized more highly than virginity in brides. He smiles, knowingly. Yes, seduction is a savory dish you start at noon but do not eat until dark. The waitress approaches and he asks whether they can cook shakshuka. No, she says as if swatting a spider with a magazine. What is that anyway? He closes his eyes and speaks with an almost incantatory voice that could only come from the desert. Eggs poached in tomato sauce with onions, peppers, chili, paprika, and white cheese. She looks at you, then back at him as if he were a tomcat crossing the street. I guess you could try a veggie omelette. He looks at you. Om-what? he asks. You tell him it is eggs cooked with tomatoes, onions, cheese, and ham, all garnished with parsley. He smiles like a father to his six-year-old and says Maybe not the ham. You turn to the waitress and ask about substituting spinach. We can do that, she says, relieved to be talking to you now. When it comes, he pensively takes a couple bites. My first wife would have eaten shakshuka at every meal if she could have, he says as much to himself as to you. You tell him your wife has no such devotion to a specific dish and neither do you, for that matter. He continues. One evening, when she was at her brother’s house—she was there because her mother, blessed be her memory, was sick—and she went out to fetch the old rooster from the garden and a bullet struck her in the neck. Somebody had missed their target. By the time her brother went to look for her, the ground was almost black with her blood and the rooster had run back to his hens. He takes another bite, smiles, and says it’s good, but not the same. He holds another loaded fork in front of his mouth like an unplugged microphone and asks do you mind if I eat in silence?