February 28, 2011

I only speak the truth.

... says the magical sitar in the musical they put on in Moulin Rouge. One knows that didn’t go down very well. The sitar said quite a bit too much and one wishes it hadn’t. Mind you it all comes right in the end but not without major movie drama difficulties.
In real life it seems the same. Most of us are big advocates of the truth. Or so we think. As long as we like it. The truth that is. I think certain things, true as they may be, don’t need to be said. Some people may disagree. Take one of my lovely New York guy friends. A few conversations would go like this:
Friend: Your ass looks really big in these pants.
Me: Thanks. I actually didn’t ask for your opinion.
Friend: But I just wanted to tell you the truth. You should know.
Me: Why? It’s hurtful (and of course not true), so why would you tell me?
Friend: I thought you may want to know. I am your friend and should tell you the truth.
Here I add my Mum’s wisdom – if you are not asked and you don’t have something nice to say about a person, don’t say anything at all. My friend considers this a lie and thinks he is doing me a favour by being such an honest friend.
I don’t think this is necessarily a male - female issue. I think some people prefer to tell everything and anything and think that by not telling certain things, they are lying. Others think that withholding certain information to spare someone’s feelings (I would like to think everyone’s motives are that noble) is perfectly okay. I can usually more identify the latter. But then I realized something: I also sometimes don’t tell myself the whole truth to spare my own feelings. It’s a given that this might become a problem sooner or later...
I recently attended an amazing workshop with Ashtanga master Michael Gannon. On the first evening we did a chakra meditation. And while working through my agonizing back pain that occurred ten minutes into sitting still, I could still listen when he described what each chakra stands for. One stuck out for me – the throat chakra: Speak the truth. Not only to others but also to yourself. Wow, a thought which importance really hadn’t occurred to me since now. Speak the truth to yourself.
Tell you what – today I did just that. I spoke the truth. My truth. To myself and then to someone else. It sucked. It really, really sucked (because, you can guess what is coming, I didn’t like this response).  But as my friend Jackie put it so nicely the other day: “You can hide it, you can bury it, you can run from it, but at the end of the day Truth is all there is. Anything done to disguise it is a waste of creative energy. Know. Speak. Live.”
So now I do. Sticking to my guns. Speaking the truth. And crying a little bit over a very big glass of wine. Luckily I have a good friend to keep me company while doing all of that.

February 26, 2011

I ♥ Hearts

At least from today onwards.

I have never been a girl who has spent time on planning her own wedding. Never. Any time. Barbie and Ken never celebrated their special day under my watch nor would I make scrap books with pictures of cream puff dresses, princess carriages and chocolate fountains as a teenager. Quite the opposite – I made scrap books of my friend and me kissing as many boys as we possibly could over carnival weekend.
I will one day want a wedding and I will want it to be beautiful and special. I realize though that my taste in food, clothes, decor and men (that’s why there is no wedding yet) has constantly changed over the years. So how could I have known what kind of wedding I will one day want? How could my 16 year old me have known that one day Jil Sander would make the perfect wedding dress? Or my neo-romantic 21 year old version that crème colored roses are not necessarily a bad thing? And why should any of them understand that maybe even the future groom has an opinion on things and quite the right to voice it too?
Today things changed. Browsing this morning I came across the blog of Callie, a friend of mine, who owns the company Cakebread with his sister. We first met on a job where they were doing the food styling, but my favourite part about their job is the cakes they make. Wedding cakes, birthday cakes, pretty cakes, yummy cakes, mind-blowing cakes. I’m no particular cake craver, but I have tried my way through quite a few cheesecakes over the years in New York. After all they don’t call it New York Cheesecake for nothing.  The best one however I found at Cakebread when I first visited their little shop in town in search for a Saturday afternoon delight. I was contemplating the pros and cons of cheesecake versus lemon meringue when Callie helped me out by telling me to take a slice of both (he is a good sales person that one). It turned out to be a wise decision though. I loved them both with all my heart.
This brings me to the hearts. Oh, the hearts! On his blog he shows pictures of previous events, one being a wedding where they made heart cookies and see-through heart lollies. After seeing them, the first detail of my future wedding is now set. I still don’t care about dress, flowers or the band, but the hearts, the heart lollies I MUST have. I have fallen in love. Head over hearts.
Ha ha

February 25, 2011

New York Miss-Much

It might be the wind, but my mood is sombre today and I miss New York much. It might also be due to my New York friends leaving today. All I want to do is jump on the plane with them. Not even the 17 hour trip can be scarier than the prospect of staying behind right now. Mind you, in my mind it is summer in New York though...scorching August heat (I am the only crazy person firmly believing that August is the best month to visit New York). In my perfect August day I would like to...
... order iced coffee and get it right. Americano, ice cubes, done. New Yorker baristas do know that whether to add hot or cold water must not be asked.
... fight my way through the aisles of Century 21 and emerge with an oversized Martin Margiela jersey and yet another little Pucci bandana.
... be told by a stranger in the elevator that she likes my shoes and replying with a mysterious smile that says ‘I got them on sale, but I will never ever tell you’.
... be stuck in traffic in a yellow cab, missing the voice of Elmo saying “This is Elmo from Sesame Street. Elmo wants you to be safe. So please, buckle up for safety.”
... drink fresh lemonade at a street fair. I’m sure there is one somewhere. As a rule there is always one somewhere, each street in New York is worthy of celebration it seems.
... eat arepas at Caracas. The usual. Two La Del Gato with no plantains. And then being told (in Spanish, but I can gather as much) that having a La Del Gato without plantains is like, well, literally a cat without a tail.
... go to Barney’s. Just to look.*
... dinner at Bar Pitti with Sam. And the waiter standing next to me throughout the meal. Just in case I need more fresh parmesan cheese graded over my plate**. Which I will. That is a given.
So for now I will indulge myself in this bit of fantasy and hope that the wind will die down, so I can sit on my balcony and enjoy the city I’m actually in...just now.

*Of course this is a lie. You cannot ever just look when at Barney’s.
** Selecting pictures today makes me sad. So I was just browsing a bit and then decided against. But this I did find (the internet is a wondrous place) and have to share:

This is a picture of the original Rigatoni Pitti, which I always, always eat there.

February 23, 2011

Basil in the moonlight.

Nothing warms my heart more than when a guy cooks for me. It doesn’t have to be grand, but just to watch someone pottering around in the kitchen making really anything for me (or even just trying)...I just find it absolutely endearing.
Unfortunately a lot of men don’t cook. Or can’t. Or won’t. Nevertheless it turns out though that I can still be endeared without a guy cooking. Last night the conversation went like this:

Me: Can you pick us some fresh basil for the pasta please?
J: Sure. Which one is the basil?

The choices on my balcony are basil or a huge monster plant of some cacti sort.

J: I wouldn’t want to pick mint instead of basil.
Me: Don’t worry, there is no mint here. There is only regular basil, red basil and this ugly cactus.
J: Okay, what am I picking exactly?
Me: The bigger leaves. The small ones must still grow.
J: Okay, how much do we need?
Me: A handful.

Then a thought occurred to both of us.
My hand (small), J's hand (big)

We settled on a medium sized hand.
I am back at the stove, stirring the pasta.

J: Ups. I think I picked one that is too small.
Me: That’s okay. You can’t glue it back on, may as well keep it.
J (showing me his hand): Is that enough?
Me: A bit more. You can never have enough basil.

At this point we engage in a small discussion that basil is great even in big quantities yet coriander use definitely has its limitations.

I drain the pasta. Whispers from the balcony.

J: Are you big enough to be picked? Mh. And you? You look good!

Know what I mean now? There is something very endearing about watching a guy on your balcony, picking basil in the moonlight and talking to it...No cooking necessary.

February 22, 2011

I'd rather go naked.

Than not wear a scarf.
Due to the fish cake debacle yesterday I realized that I missed the single most important item on the What I Wore Today list: A scarf. And then I decided that it is actually worth a post on its own, because....drum roll...I love scarves. I adore them. I won’t leave the house without one. Ever.
 I had a friend in high school who always wore turtlenecks. We teased her whether she would also wear a bathing suit with a turtleneck attached. I am the same with scarves. I will wear one in any weather and in any situation. In the summer big cotton wraps, in the evening silk squares, in winter (yes, even in Cape Town) anything cashmere. Nothing completes an outfit like a scarf, nothing makes me feel cosier and for no other item of clothing can I justify a bigger spending budget.
Now after years of cramming them into a box or drawer I finally have a place that provides the perfect spot for my collection:
There are probably a few more strewn around the flat who missed the photo-op, but this is essentially it. It’s a small but precious assembly.
The scarf love may be another trade I get from my Mum. Since I can remember she will wear a silk scarf rolled up and tied around her neck. Last winter I got very lucky as I asked her for hand-me-downs from her own closet. Even luckier when I realized, the guys who robbed all my money out of my bag upon return to Cape Town, had left the real treasure: a tiny bundle of silks with the tiny printed names of Emilio Pucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Hermès.
My favourite scarf these days is this little striped beauty. I got it in NY last August and haven’t taken it off since. That fact led to the following conversation with my little niece...
Olivia: Why do you always wear the same stripy scarf?
Me: Because I just got it and it’s my favourite.
Olivia: Aah (not sounding very convinced).

Seeing my scarf collection in all its’ glory when she came to visit led to this interlude...
Olivia: Why do you have so many scarves?
Me: So my little niece won’t bug me that I always wear the same scarf.
Olivia: (giggle)

Children are easily amused. Me too. As long as I have my scarf.

February 21, 2011

The Fish Cake Incident.

This is not a food blog, but something very sad happened tonight. Maybe writing a food post now will  help me overcome my blues.

I have a few recipes that I make often. Like once a week. Or twice. They are my good old faithfuls. But once in while I love nothing more than venturing out and trying a new recipe. I love the excitement of possibly creating something amazing and it feels to me like making a friend for life.

A few days ago I have found a recipe for fish cakes on The Foodie. If I remember correctly it was even called ‘Easy fish cakes’. Yum. I don’t particularly care for fish, but for some odd reason I have a soft spot for fish cakes.
So tonight I wanted to venture and also try to make up for an unhealthy KFC lunch with reasonably healthy fish cakes and lots of Swiss chard.

I started boiling the potatoes, frying the fish - off to a good start. The problems started when I realized I was lacking fish sauce, the ginger had gone bad and I only had limes and no lemon zest as required. Oh well, I thought, improvising is the name of the game.

I first got the impression something might not be quite right when I poured soy sauce over the fish and potato mash, turning it all into a brown squishy mess. Was it supposed to look like that? I thought fishcakes should only be brown after gently frying them in oil. I tasted the brown mash - not exciting, but not that bad either. Maybe the frying does the trick me thought.

Next step on the agenda: forming the mash into little friable patties. Lots of flour was advised. Next thing I know my kitchen looked worse than the time when I tried to make Christmas cookies and my hands are covered in a thick layer of fish mash and flour. Somehow I mastered a few unshapely patties and off they went into the frying pan.
Have I mentioned that I somehow managed to over salt the Swiss chard completely in the meanwhile? Not sure how that happened…

The fish cakes were getting only slightly browner (fat chance as they were so dark to begin with), so I felt the need to try a crumb that broke off to determine whether they were done. “%&#!!*&@”. I had now managed to burn off the skin of my thumb and index finger completely in the attempt to fish out a piece from the scorching pan. Ouch. Now two of my precious fingers were sticking to an ice cube, which is wasn’t really helping.

Finally two little fish cakes were lying next to an entire bag of Swiss chard on a plate. I took my seat, I took my fork, I took a bite. What can I say? I knew before that fish cakes always like mayonnaise. I didn’t know they needed quite as much (the mayo was yummy!). Neither did I know that over salted Swiss chard could taste better than fish cakes.
*the fish cakes are too sad a view to show a real picture of them

What went wrong one may ask. I’m not sure. It may have been the beer. Or lack thereof. Beer drinking while cooking was mentioned multiple times in the recipe. I didn’t have any beer. It may have just been the secret ingredient, which I snubbed.
I will never know. I just wonder what was so bad about Woolies fish cakes to begin with?

The way we wore.

The other day I stumbled over a fabulous little blog called What I Wore Today – in Drawings. I would have applied immediately with my outfit du jour, but unfortunately I can’t draw to save my life except maybe fashion renderings that will make me look like a Barbie (and even this would need some serious practice first).
Therefore I decided to make my own little What I Wear Most Days – in Photos.

a Sheer tank. Soft tank. Oversized tank:  Any tank, any day.
b Guinea fowl feather head band:  My friend bought this for me in New York. I love the fact that it actually looks like a DIY project with one of my cousin’s guinea fowls.
c My favourite Piazza Sempione cuff and super glue: After dropping it one too many times the centre rhinestone finally gave up and fell out.
d Coco Extreme:  A waiter told me the other night I smelled like Malibu. I got a bit offended (even though I will openly admit that I love Malibu!) as I thought he was implying I smelled boozy. Lucky for him and his tip, he quickly realized that he needed to clarify to make his point.
e Dark, skinny jeans with f: The right amount of frayed hems.
g Havaianas in matte gold: I buy a pair every season. Unfortunately for the rest of the season I can only remember them fondly – due to a broken strap I had to bury them already and there is no other pair in my size to be found in the whole of Cape Town.

The “winter” edition will follow in a couple of months. I don’t think much will change. I am a creature of habit. I may just throw in a bit of cashmere for good measure.

February 16, 2011

White Tiger C

With White Tiger C I am taking some liberties with the definition of a white tiger. Actually quite some big liberties considering that White Tiger C is not striped, more grey/white than black/white and is in fact not even a tiger. But since I get to decide on content here, he is on my list and in fact leading it. Meet Julian!
He won’t complain much about being called a white tiger here. He is used to much worse name calling i.e. juli-poo or stink bear as our favourites. He is both, but also cute as a button.
I do frequently entertain Jakob and these days Ike with stories about ‘little baby Julian’ and they love it/him both. Their favourites are by far How little baby Julian jumped on the pizza and we still ate it and How little baby Julian pushed the dates wrapped in bacon off the table and we still ate them. I think we were just a hungry bunch.  Therefore none of us understood why people would refuse to eat rice at our home after seeing this picture:
I look at him and want to eat him too!

Forgive me Father.

For I have sinned. And Mark. For it wasn't with you. I was on a motorcycle last night for the first time in my life. Whoop whoop. So much fun to feel the wind on my face. And best of all - no helmet hair!*

*At least up to my knowledge and the driver didn't complain...

February 14, 2011

happy v day.

It appears to be that one has no choice, but somehow wish the entire world happy v day today. I am personally not a huge fan of the celebration, but if I am very honest it might just be because there is no one here to send me chocolates and roses. So my ill attempt to deal with it, is being sarcastic about everything pink or red or heartshaped and thinking I would ditch any man giving me a pink, heartprinted fleece blanket today (as men do according to Woolies). I know I know...as I said it's an ill attempt of conceiling the envy deep inside of me.

I am secretly quite happy that one friend had send me a happy v day email at 00h14 last night and another promised to have chocolate truffles shipped from his favourite confisserie shop in a small town in the alps. Not that I think these chocolates will ever make it here, but it's nice to dream...

So here you go - for all single and/or sarcastic non-valentine's followers, something to make you smile. I am proud to present Cupid!

Halloween a few years back in New York. Curling my hair like that took about two hours, making 15 gold and 15 lead arrows another two...but I think it was worth it - at least I always have a laugh when I look at myself in this picture!

White Tiger B

Two years later I was fortunate enough to meet and shake paws with the bracelet’s live counterpart. Minus one head of course. I was working on a campaign for a Korean department store at the time, which was being shot in New York. Some clever ad people thought it a stroke of genius to have model clad in Prada sit on an antique chaise lounge, surrounded by three peacocks - alive - and a white tiger - alive. They only know why ... But regardless of the absurdity of it all, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly as we all considered meeting a white tiger kind of special.
And special she was. Her name was Crystal, she was from Ohio and really just a cute small town toddler (because that’s what three year old tigers apparently are – toddlers). She was quite beautiful though and looked friendly enough. I wanted nothing more than to stroke her and see if she would start purring like our little Julian at home. No such luck at first. I wasn’t allowed to touch her. Not for security reasons as in ‘do not touch tiger, tiger might bite and you might lose your hand’, but because of a NY state law. Don’t ask why, but if you ever want to touch a tiger you have to take him or her over to New Jersey. Unfortunately Crystal wasn’t in the mood to see the garden state and take a trip across the Hudson with me.
1. mmh 2. mmmh 3. mmmmh 4. stroll on the deck with favourite chew toy 5. cheeze!

Eventually though her caretaker gave in. The long wait and all of our begging and pleating had worn him out. We were allowed to come closer and pose for pictures with her. Once next to her one thing led to another...
1. almost touching 2. friends 3. in deep conversation 4. touch down! 5. model, antique chaise lounge and crystal

After our little session, it was time for her big shoot. The model didn’t blink an eye as Crystal was walked onto set and propped up on the chaise lounge next to her. Poor tiger toddler didn’t take it so well though. Her equivalent of peeing in your pants was to pee on the antique chaise lounge. The prop department fainted slightly.
The fun and excitement didn’t stop there. After a few more attempts of getting her to sit still, look left and then right, Crystal had enough. A bit of up-roar was in order. ‘Roooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr’ she shouted and stood up on her hind legs. It was almost a slow motion movement as she reached up with her right paw and smashed the antique chandelier, which was conveniently dangling within reach above the chaise lounge. Crystal met crystal and Crystal won. The prop department was beyond fainting this time. Frantic calls to check insurance values were made instead and a few hasty sips from the hipflask taken.
 I am not actually sure if the latter is true, but I would have done that, say if the tiger had peed on the Prada turban instead.
In the end it all worked out of course. Beautiful pictures were taken and we finished our day with a beer over sunset outside. Crystal had found a new favourite look-out spot in the meanwhile. High above on top of the stairs, leading to an upstairs office, she lay, watching us with sleepy eyes and a satisfied little smile – she knew the fashion industry was fickle, but she also knew that we would always remember the day with her.

February 12, 2011

White Tiger A

White Tiger A was a bracelet I wore and didn’t take off for about a year back in New York. It was a beautiful and only tiny bit cheesy gold and enamel bracelet with two white tiger heads connecting one white tiger body. It added a bit of glitz and glamour to my usual minimalistic Helmut Lang-esque wardrobe.

Unfortunately my memory and this picture, which isn’t doing it justice (and yes I know, Julian’s paw is covering half of it anyhow), is the only thing left of it. It had a sort of snap mechanism to close and after a year of banging on tables/door frames/people it didn’t snap anymore. I did make an attempt to have it repaired but to no avail. It’s gone. I still miss it at times. We were good friends, the white tiger bracelet and I.

February 11, 2011

The White Stripes.

Again a story in chapters...
A random thought popped into my head today: I like white stripes. Maybe that thought was inspired by yesterday’s story about the zebra van, but in general I much more like white stripes as in white tigers. Then I rifled through old pictures and I found some of me and white tigers. So there you go – I will be telling the stories of me and my three favourite white tigers over the weekend.

February 10, 2011


When I was in college I was slightly obsessed with the concept of the Mastercard “Priceless” commercials. I think it started when I had to write a paper, comparing advertising and marketing campaigns of leading credit card companies. Afterwards I simply had to come up with a few priceless stories myself. I wrote my favourite after we moved out of the dorms into our first NY apartment.
Marie had organized a man with a van to help us move. Waiting in front of the dorm we saw a very ancient truck in zebra print turning into our street. The conversation after we saw it went kind of like this - Me:  Haha, look that is our van! Haha. - Marie: Haha. Ja, right. - Van driver, stopping and getting out in front of us: So, who is Marie? - Me: Oh, no. - Marie (with a very small voice): Me.
We overcame our initial embarrassment of being fetched by such an uncool van in front of the entire school quite quickly though. Zebra man turned out to be great! We even had him fetch us from IKEA. Sitting in the loading area wecould spot his distinguished stripes from miles away on the highway - hurray, our van was here!
After the move was completed and all the furniture built I came up with the following:

Zebra van rental for the move: $300
IKEA glass table for the new kitchen: $160
Take-out dinner for three: $65
Not having to sneak the empty Corona bottles out the next morning*: Priceless

*We lived in a dorm with a strict no alcohol, no drugs rule. For some reason we battled more with secretly getting the empty bottles out than the full ones in. 

February 6, 2011

B Day.

My cousin Thekla invented something what I will now call the ‘Birthday Day’ or short ‘B Day’. It started with her sister and her four children. Thekla realized soon enough being an aunt of four can not only do serious damage to your wallet, but also the one thing kids with this many siblings don’t get enough is one-on-one attention. So over the years it became her tradition that she would spend a day with each of them on their own as their birthday presents.
She would watch Barney with little Ike, Vampire movies with the girls (I got to go along to one of the premiers and almost became deaf by teenage girls having screaming fights over Jakob and Edward - we are still a divided family on this front), and Brownie baking with Max. The kids love it. It’s their day.
So when Thekla’s birthday came around, I decided to do the same thing. Even though she had given me a ‘list’ of sensible present options (I did ask for it!), I decided - no, a day it would be. A Thekla day.

Here the itinerary of our fabulous day/date:

10h30 Bikram yoga - taught by me.
I had really wanted her to come back only once more and take my class. So she did. And I have yet to get nicer compliments on my teaching from anyone. So nice I almost want to add a smiley face here.

13h00 Lunch at Café Milano.
Thekla, who thinks pastry is the anti-Christ, is now converted. I solemnly swear that I will never eat pastry anywhere else again. It wouldn’t be right and it would just make me cry.

15h00 Pedicures at the Cape Royale spa.
Thekla discovered a scar afterwards on her toe, which had been there since she was seven, but apparently hadn’t been seen in years. Now with her toes all scrubbed it resurfaced (mind you my feet were in worst condition, that’s probably why scars don’t stick). Added bonus for me: I managed to walk out of there without nicking my nail polish anywhere. It’s still intact now. Probably for the next five minutes knowing Murphy’s law.

16h00 Cocktails at the roof top bar.
To sum up in one sentence what I need to do to change my life according to her: Get hammered and stalk guys.
No comment.

17h00 Getting ready at my flat.
Two lovely glasses of chilled Pinot Noir thanks to my amazing clients.

18h15 One more glass for the road.

18h30 Six course tasting menu at La Mouette and lots of dirty talk. 
Two best friends and bubbly. What’s not to love?

22h15 Driving home.
One left over macaroon (only slightly chewed on at one corner) for Adam.

23h00 Me, my flat and I.
Another glass of Pinot Noir for me. And the amazing feeling of having made someone’s day and of someone having made my day.

February 5, 2011


The week ahead that had looked quite bleak Sunday evening all of a sudden took a turn and became quite inspired. All due to what I know call the 5-Minute-Vacation, which unlike its food counterpart, the 5-Minute-Terrine (Do they have them in South Africa? Well, we have it in Germany and it’s our equivalent of Ramen noodles), I think is quite healthy.

I have come to the conclusion that the convenience of living across from my office also comes with some downsides. Namely me being very unadventurous when it comes to venturing out for lunch (I go home and reheat whatever is left from dinner) and me being very complacent with crappy instant coffee at work instead of finding nice coffee shops on my way there.

Last Monday I woke up and decided it was time to change this. At least the coffee situation for now (I had lovely left over chicken curry in my fridge for lunch). I got dressed and honoured the occasion by wearing my big Piazza Sempione cuff, which makes me feel and look a bit like Wonderwoman, but is highly unpractical for typing and any kind of other non-Wonderwoman related activities. But for my little adventure it seemed the proper attire, so off I went with the Baby Ferrari, who was craving a spin around the block as well. Down to Church Street we went and what a happy morning it was - too early for parking guards and plenty of space.

The plan was to finally immerse myself into the higher spheres of great coffee: Deluxe. I am a bit shamefaced to admit that I had never been before.

Walking down Church Street I suddenly realized something funny, a strange feeling inside of me: bubbles. Or better said the bubbly feeling of joy you only get when on vacation. The first moment of stepping into a world of unknown possibilities and excitement. The moment you become your very own Alice in Wonderland. It was incredible and highly unexpected. Vacation feeling in the middle of town? Oddly enough it had never happened to me before in any of the places one might expect this feeling to surface. Camps Bay for sundowners, Muizenberg surfers and Waterfront calamari lunch feel very common to me. No pristine, postcard picture perfect location had ever evoked such a feeling.

I looked up and around, not wanting to miss the entrance and I started to feel like a tourist in the best way possible. On a mission to find that special place I had read about in my secret travel guide. Searching, wondering - happily so. And then I found it. Needless to say the coffee was great. I didn’t even mind that they do not have any ice, therefore I couldn’t have my requested iced coffee. I was on vacation. Nothing could bother me. I had looked for this special place and when I found it, it truly was special. Inside and out.

February 1, 2011

Confessions of a Pastaholic III

Chapter 2 - Mushroom high.

My parents both enjoy cooking and would host big dinner parties ever so often when I was little. My father, usually in charge of the roasts, whole birds and legs of something, had one special Pasta appetizer: Ravioli with morels. 

Morel alas Morchella, dryland fish, hickory chicken, merkels, molly moochers, miracles - I like the last one best. They taste like miracles, but apparently this pet name is derived from the time when a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating them.

People must have thought me a slightly odd and very spoilt child for I loved them: The funny texture, the hour long procedure (or at least that’s what it felt like) to clean them, the smell and then … the taste, oh, the taste. The taste, which became one of my favorite tastes of all times.

Whenever the ravioli were on the menu I was there, standing next to my Dad at the kitchen counter, watching, helping, and then speed eating the raviolis that weren’t pretty enough to end on the guests’ plate. I think my Dad would actually misshape a few of them on purpose, just to make me happy.

Over the years he nurtured my expensive taste not only by feeding me scraps. With 17 I found my first jar of dried morels under the Christmas tree. When I moved out from home and celebrated my first birthday away, I was probably the only 20 year old to ever receive a birthday present of mushrooms that didn’t get you high.

Last Christmas, my friend from back home who visited me, had to take a parcel from my Dad. Said friend had to leave the shower gel and perfume at security, but luckily the morels and the five pages of recipes from all of my Dad’s favorite chefs made it intact. Christmas dinner was saved. Well, that was after an additional 30 minute drive (in my frenzy I had forgotten the star ingredient at home) and a climb over the gate of my uncle’s house (in my excitement we had gotten locked out).

My little love affair came officially out into the open last summer when my father turned 75 and had organized a four course meal. Each course based on one of his children’s favorite dishes. I was the starter. Guess what my dish was.

P.S.: I am not stingy with my morels. Whenever I have a little packet after a birthday or Christmas, I choose some favorite people to share them with. But I also always point out: Do not force yourself. If you don’t like them, leave them. I am sure that someone (me) will eat them. With pleasure.
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