Ours was a capitalist society, with a free-market system. This means that the ultimate worth of an item was determined by the price people were willing to pay for it. By this standard, the food we most highly prized was prepared by chef Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washington, in Washington, Va., the area's most expensive restaurant. The price of a single dinner was $98 on weekdays, $128 on Saturdays -- tax, tip and beverages not included. Tables were seldom empty.

Here is the menu from a day selected at random: Monday, Nov. 22, 1999.

First Course Selections

Chilled Crab Salad With Mango and Avocado in a Tropical Fruit Coulis

Oriental-Style Tuna Tartare With Wasabi Sauce

Carpaccio of Baby Lamb on Arugula With Rosemary Mustard and Tabouli

Grilled Quail on Rutabaga Roesti Splashed With a Carrot Essence

A Melange of Prosciutto, Pear, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Baby Arugula

Seared Duck Foie Gras on Polenta With Virginia Country Ham and Blackberries

Crispy Seared Rockfish on Braised Baby Bok Choy With a Sweet and Sour Sauce

Roasted Eggplant Ravioli With Medallions of Lobster in a Tomato Basil Butter Sauce

A Slab of Chilled Goose Foie Gras With Poached Pear, Preserved Quince and Fleur de Sel

Risotto With Shrimp, Wild Mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Virginia Country Ham and White Truffle

Our Homemade Boudin Blanc (White Sausage) on Sauerkraut Braised in Virginia Riesling,

With Fig and Apple Coulis

Between-Courses Selections

Salad of Belgian Endive Drizzled With Pomegranate Vinaigrette and Lemon Cream

Watercress Salad With Walnuts, Pears, Bacon and Blue Cheese

A Salad of Baby Green Beans With Mustard Vinaigrette

Lemon-Rosemary Sorbet With Vermouth

Main Course Selections

Sauteed Medallions of Virginia Venison on a Tangle of Tart Greens With Black Currant Sauce

Veal Sweetbreads Braised in Ruby Port With Clamshell Mushrooms and Champagne Grapes

Thrice-Cooked Duck With Aromatic Asian Spices and Pineapple on Wild Rice Pecan Pilaf

Pan-Seared Tenderloin of Veal With Chanterelles, Sugar Snap Peas

and Ravioli of Virginia Country Ham and Fontina Cheese

Lobster With Grapefruit, Orzo and Citrus Butter Sauce

Pecan-Crusted Barbecued Rack of Lamb With Black-Eyed Peas

Local Rabbit Braised in Apple Cider With Wild Mushrooms and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Filet Mignon of Rarish Tuna Capped With Seared Duck Foie Gras on Charred Onions

with a Burgundy Butter Sauce

Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass With Shallots Three Ways, Fava Beans, Fingerling Potatoes,

Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine Demi-Glace

Grilled Tenderloin of Beef With Bone Marrow Gratin on Red Wine Barley Risotto

Choice of Dessert

Seven Deadly Sins

A Warm Upside-Down Apple Skillet Tart

Chocolate Four Ways

A Painter's Palette of Homemade Sorbets

Our Warm Cranberry-Ginger Autumn Pudding

Butter Pecan Ice Cream With Hot Caramel Sauce

Double Pumpkin Roulade With Ginger Creme Anglaise

Our Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake With a Liquid Heart and Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Caramelized Banana Tart With Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Pannacotta in a Passion Fruit Sauce With Raspberries

White Chocolate Ice Cream With Hot Dark Chocolate Sauce

Mascarpone Cheese Coeur a la Creme in a Minestrone of Fruits

Our Double Chocolate Roulade With White and Dark Chocolate Sauces

Our Marjolaine Cake: A Classic Chocolate, Hazelnut Meringue Layer Cake With Raspberries

Our Selection of American and European Cheese

or An After Dinner Drink

Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee and Tea Included

Espresso $3; Cappuccino or French Press $5