“But habibti, there is only enough here for one month. And why you buy rice in one kilo bag? Wallah! Such disappointment.”
For real, tho, this is what I’m always like. Definitely inherited the ‘casually well-stocked cupboards’ habit. A bit light on the beans though, ’cos people who never normally cook beans fucking panic-skived off with them all. Except chickpeas. Jokes on them, I’m making hummus.
Waking up singing “I was a Teenage Anarchist” and “Gone Mad”, lazy 11am breakfast reading a new book, afternoon of grinding and roasting spices, prepping roe deer meat from the local Wildfleischhandel, shopping for dinner and the week, baking a pile of banana energy bars, murdering up a Baltistan curry while chatting with Gala, eating said curry while returning to book, bit of sci-fi telly with cardamom chocolate, the apartment soaking the whole day in rich scents and cooking, and now all that but 2 hours of the day done. I just want to remember about a perfect a day as I can have.
This has been on my reading list for years. I read about it on a now long-departed blog and somehow imagined it was more cookbook-sized, despite being a history of rather than how to make tome on my favourite nosh. Being somewhat bereft of reading stuff on my return from Vienna, I ordered in a haphazard manner of things I thought could be entertaining, and Lizzie Collingham’s Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors which I’ve looked at on my list every time I wonder what to read next and the pass over this time I decided either I buy it or I delete it.
Mainly it first entered my list because I love curry, especially the northern Baltistan varieties (though an introduction to Afghan wok-style curries in Vienna has me off on another bender),and I also love the history of food. It also has – for a history book – recipes! So I am sincerely hoping it is some euros well-spent and I can cook new things.
I had some time spare yesterday amidst the stream of meetings and appointments, so went on a hot date with myself to a bookshop. Of course after drooling on Iain Banks’s latest novel I found myself in the cooking section, first in awe over a book devoted solely to Sichuan cooking. I’m going back to steal the recipes for Suan Cai Yu and Shui Zhu Niu Rou to see just how authentic it is, and maybe the Mapo Doufu that all the recipes I’ve tried have been … you get the idea, but mostly it’s just taunting that Chengdu is so far away.
Next was a book devoted solely to the best best best cooking utensil ever invented, the wok. I miss mine dearly but after discovering that Foshan is one of the few places where you can still buy a hand-beaten wok, I think I’ll be making a side trip there. So when I turned the page and saw such a familiar sight, the old red motorbike taxi with attached chicken cage and plenty of chickens, the yellow 粤 licence plate, I was overcome with homesickness for Guangzhou. Oh the food. This is one of the rare, special cities in the world. Canton is where you go to eat.
As when I arrived in Adelaide, so too was it grey and occasionally seeped in a fine mist for Bonnie, who flew in yesterday to spend a week at Leigh Warren. Today was my turn to visit the surgery of airport, feasting on leftovers from last night’s late supper of the previously mentioned Turfan Yangrou – Xinjiang makes of lamb a delicacy so lascivious I’m drooling now to even think of it – before sliding into the taxi, the sky a porcelain dome of powder blue.
Two weeks stretched to almost a month of days in Adelaide, and during the past few months, I’ve spent more than half of my time here. There. Now it’s there. I’m in Melbourne again.
I do suspect a conspiracy of Adelaide dancers, enticing me to return return with my suitcase again, in a more, shall we say, permanent arrangement. I’ve been really frustrated since returning from Guangzhou last year, finding myself without the means to continue my love affair with the mountains of Europe, and finding Melbourne a place where I just can’t wait to leave. Melbourne has been convenient for me to get back to dancing with daily classes but for anything else, it’s just felt oppressive.
All this is not new though, what’s new, or has been creeping up on me for the last while is this feeling that moving there before I return to Europe is a good idea. I woke up some time early this morning with this thought, or rather, feeling. My thoughts are being quite rigorously analytical in dismembering this ‘good idea’, and have provided me with an extensive list of “why it is not a good idea”.
Contra this, the part of me that disagrees with Little Ms Practical, has an equally impressive list of “why, in fact it is a good idea”, or at least not a bad one. plenty of jabbering then of internal voices, and this overwhelming certitude that I’d better not fuck this one up, and the right choice would be to move to Adelaide. Nonetheless, I have a gargantuan amount of work to do in the next few days, that should, as a convenient side-effect, make it quite unambiguous what I should be doing.
In the meantime, here’s some more photos of airports. And yes, I already desperately miss you all at Alfred Street.
I’m sorry!!! I know we were only just talking in the kitchen a few hours ago and you really, really, want to come here and see NEWNESS! but I have let you all down again. I blame it on Adelaide. And contemporary dance. And the 吐鲁番羊肉 – that’s Turfan Yangrou, as in تۇرپان in Xinjiang, that was originally how I got on the whole China thing. I blame it on the lamb. I know I’m disappointing you, but I promise to improve (even if my dyslexia doesn’t).