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Saturday, September 26, 2009


Another quickie this.

They came, they saw, they showered - luxuriantly - and then they ate - how they ate, very slowly, savouring every bite.

There's one part of Granny - the puritanical Angl0-Saxon bit, brought up on the notion of eat to live rather than the reverse and generally surprised by the proportion of their income that those across the channel were prepared to spend on food - what about the starving masses? - etc etc - that thinks she ought not really to enjoy such gastronomic excess. On the other hand: since her long-ago education via the books of Elizabeth David and her successors she has learned, somewhat, to suppress this part of herself. (While not of course entirely forgetting the starving masses: time for another contribution to Oxfam or Africa Now, perhaps, that useful means of appeasing a guilty middle-class conscience..?) But the rest of her - and on such occasions - is quite able to quell that part. And how.

Gastronomy after all - she tells herself and you - is an art like any other. Making a meal at restaurants like this the equivalent of a visit to the Tate? Possibly. For the Waterside is particularly high art. Take the lobster Granny and Beloved ate - very slowly - its richness and even richer portwine sauce offset by a sprig or two of chervil, much subtler than parsley but not as blatant as coriander - very slightly liquorice, or aniseed, but not quite. It was a bit like that dot of white - like the glint on Vermeer's pearl earring - that turns a good painting into a great one. When the chef himself came round to greet them - it was that sort of restaurant - and Granny pointed out this perfect touch - he was pleased: 'my herbs are not for decoration,' he said. Quite.

And then there was the perfection of the restaurant choreography - a ballet of waiters, wine waiters, under-managers which outdid the Royal Ballet. After the lobster came a duckling. It was carved with marvellous dexterity by an under manager wielding a wide, glinting steel knife, while the vegetables were laid out -exquisitely -by a waiter - one of those who wore waistcoat and shirt sleeves, as opposed to the wine waiters' tail coats., turned temporarily soloist. 'You're doing a chef's job here,' Granny said to him. 'It makes the job more interesting.' he said. The duck was as perfect as the lobster, tender, a little pink, full of flavour, if a bit too much - in quantity - for Granny, who rarely eats meat. She gave some of her slices to Beloved.)

Now Granny is as fond as anyone of good food in more rough and ready surroundings - gastro pubs for instance. She doesn't always want to be part of a gastronomic ballet. Or only once in a very blue moon. But that once in a blue moon is heaven, at the time.- and for a bit longer, given the presents of jam, coffee and cookery books that she and Beloved came away with. (And now for the contribution to Oxfam to make it virtuous - sort of - as well.)

She got up yesterday and went straight to Stoke Newington to mind her beloved little lone twin baby for the afternoon. Who wailed in the park, when tired. Slept thereafter and then chatted and smiled as she does So that was alright. Real life - nice real life - restored.


Wonderful, golden autumn weather by the way. The kind she misses on her island, which doesn't do turning leaves only the rather inelegant browning and falling of the ever-green variety. To which she will be returning in 10 days or so. Next week she is off to see old friends in Somerset to see still more of the English kind.


'Sta luego, amigos.

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