Suppose I dine, after a fashion, in some not too unreliable place

From Ch.10 of Huysmans’ Là-bas. And I actually find the English – aside from missing the fish pun in pêcha – the funnier version.

“I must go home pretty soon,” [Durtal] said when he could collect himself a little, “for Père Rateau certainly has not cleaned house in the thorough fashion which I commanded, and of course I don’t want the furniture to be covered with dust. Six o’clock. Suppose I dine, after a fashion, in some not too unreliable place.”

He remembered a nearby restaurant where he had eaten before without a great deal of dread. He chewed his way laboriously through an extremely dead fish, then through a piece of meat, flabby and cold; then he found a very few lentils, stiff with insecticide, beneath a great deal of sauce; finally he savoured some ancient prunes, whose juice smelt of mould and was at the same time aquatic and sepulchral.

Il faut que je rentre chez moi de bonne heure, se dit-il, lorsqu’il parvint à se reprendre, – car le père Rateau n’aura certainement pas fait, ainsi que je l’en ai prié, mon ménage à fond, – et je ne veux pourtant pas qu’aujourd’hui la poussière traîne sur tous les meubles.

Il est six heures ; si je dînais vaguement dans un lieu à peu près sûr. Il se rappela un restaurant voisin où il avait autrefois mangé sans trop de craintes. Il y chipota un poisson de la dernière heure, une viande molle et froide, pêcha dans leur sauce des lentilles mortes, sans doute tuées par de l’insecticide ; il savoura enfin d’anciens pruneaux dont le jus sentait le moisi, était tout à la fois aquatique et tombal.

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