It is with heavy feet that I drag myself up to lock the house, get in the car and venture off to accompany my woman to one of the local restaurants, every so often. I only do it because I love her company and she does deserve so much more than just the one night off, once a blue moon. I would venture further afield to really treat us to some fine dining, but usually we remain local because all we really need is time to touch base and lessen the chance of getting stuck in a roadblock after a few red wines, while eating a hole into the budget.
The food is not the main attraction; if you do let yourself into expecting a dish costing below a hundred Rand to be awesome, you’re going to either be bitterly disappointed or be one of those irate customers who demand better service, sends his plate back twice and settle with red cheeks and some sputum over his steak - unless of course, you are extremely lucky. Home is definitely the place to be when “awesome” is expected. Fine cuisine, soul comfort stew, richly flavoured Mexican wraps or even a few good cuts of prime lamb on the hottest fire is really where the taste buds do their dance of ecstasy in anticipation.
I just rounded the corner of my home after feeding the dogs, when a whiff on the breeze touched my nasal senses in such a way, that I realised how lucky I am to have a woman who knows her way around the kitchen like Chef Ramsey knows his around profanity.
Bubbling away on the stove tonight is a dish from northern India. Thandoori chicken with ground cardamom pods, mother-in-law spice, cumin, chilli, cloves, coriander and a few other spices which (to me) are totally unpronounceable. The aroma itself is already welcoming, inviting even – it simply frames the mind into a smile of recognition and relays it to the mouth which releases fluids in expectation. The memory of last night’s wholesome, earthy Irish stew is threatening to fade, while I wanted to hang onto the experience for a tad longer.
Tomorrow I know, will be another gastronomic affair as the weekend is upon us and always a good time with friends around a not-so-ordinary meal on the dinner table. This weekend we do Portuguese.
For starters, a choice of grilled chourico in flames fuelled by spirits on a clay holder with fresh, warm-from-the-oven Portuguese bread rolls, or extra spicy cooked-to-perfection chicken livers in a red wine and olive oil sauce. The mains (bacalhau ) will entail a fine cod fish served on a bed of potato slices, baked in the oven with olive oil, garlic, olives, onions, black pepper and parsley - for the two vegans, vegetarians or whatever they call themselves in that belief system. The option for the “normal” grazers is a skewer of the finest cut of rump meat chunks, served from the fire (medium and medium rare), riddled with bay leaves and garlic – continually basted with olive oil and red wine vinegar, rounded off with black pepper and course sea salt (espetada, grilled by yours truly).
The combination of good friends, good food and back-ground ambiance compliments of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”, Messrs’ , T-Bone Burnett, David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler - is something I always want to capture as a moment in time. The loose discussions of people who see each other once a month or so, while food is permeating an aroma of homeliness accompanied by laughter and ice tinkling glass rims, is a vibe to cement into one’s being.
The best food is still prepared fresh from one's own hands, time and care. I thank my lucky stars that I share my life with a woman who so lives her passion.
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