For my friend, Pat Coakley, of Singleforareason
For those of you who haven’t yet come across Pat or her photography and philosophy blog, Singleforareason, you should visit it right NOW. If I ever finish writing my foodie memoir, I’d love Pat to illustrate it – her photos of plants and fruit and vegetables and other fridge contents really get me going. She also takes the most eerie photos whilst driving, and this inspired me to attempt the same while Monsieur and I were in Maui earlier this year. The only difference was that Monsieur was driving whilst I was photographing. Pat manages to do both at the same time.
Some of my novice drive-by-shooting results are here:
Those clouds above the mountains stay above the mountains. Down on the West coast, where most of the main resorts are, it hardly ever rains.
All the palm trees in Maui are bent in the direction of the dominant wind. The first bent palms we saw were just outside the airport. This one was a bit lonely, stood by the side of the road in the middle of sugar cane country.
Sugar cane and ominous clouds that threaten but never quite reach us.
The Maui skies are huge and the landscape dramatically craggy from its volcanic heritage.
The sun sets early here. It’s already hiding behind the mountains but hasn’t quite gone.
Just south of Lahaina the hills are terracotta and ancient-looking. The sky begins to blush as the sun drops closer to the horizon.
Its glow bounces off our shiny red Mustang as we head back up to Ka’anapali Beach and our hotel. It will be another postcard perfect evening for us as we watch the colours change around the neighbouring islands.
Monsieur thinks I’m nuts to sit in the car taking photos as we whizz around the island – nothing new there. I think it’s fun and will definitely do this again. It gives a whole new perspective on our surroundings. Thank you, Pat, for the inspiration.
(Photo from Politicook.com. I’m afraid I didn’t have any of my own photos to use and this one shows the bones very well.)
Pat of Singleforareason sent me a link to a poem today. It relates to my Rome-ing in the Rain post, where Monsieur warms up with a hearty Ossobucco (which can be spelled in a number of ways, including Collins’ Osso Buco).
If you enjoy eating, then this poem will bring some beauty and reflection to the everyday things that go on during mealtime.
I love the sound of the bone against the plate
and the fortress-like look of it
lying before me in a moat of risotto,
the meat soft as the leg of an angel
who has lived a purely airborne existence.
And best of all, the secret marrow,
the invaded privacy of the animal
prized out with a knife and swallowed down
with cold, exhilarating wine.
I am swaying now in the hour after dinner,
a citizen tilted back on his chair,
a creature with a full stomach–
something you don’t hear much about in poetry,
that sanctuary of hunger and deprivation.
you know: the driving rain, the boots by the door,
small birds searching for berries in winter.
But tonight, the lion of contentment
has placed a warm heavy paw on my chest,
and I can only close my eyes and listen
to the drums of woe throbbing in the distance
and the sound of my wife’s laughter
on the telephone in the next room,
the woman who cooked the savory osso buco,
who pointed to show the butcher the ones she wanted.
She who talks to her faraway friend
while I linger here at the table
with a hot, companionable cup of tea,
feeling like one of the friendly natives,
a reliable guide, maybe even the chief’s favorite son.
Somewhere, a man is crawling up a rocky hillside
on bleeding knees and palms, an Irish penitent
carrying the stone of the world in his stomach;
and elsewhere people of all nations stare
at one another across a long, empty table.
But here, the candles give off their warm glow,
the same light that Shakespeare and Izaac Walton wrote by,
the light that lit and shadowed the faces of history.
Only now it plays on the blue plates,
the crumpled napkins, the crossed knife and fork.
In a while, one of us will go up to bed
and the other will follow.
Then we will slip below the surface of the night
into miles of water, drifting down and down
to the dark, soundless bottom
until the weight of dreams pulls us lower still,
below the shale and layered rock,
beneath the strata of hunger and pleasure,
into the broken bones of the earth itself,
into the marrow of the only place we know.
The Art of Drowning
**Thank you again to Single for a Reason, for introducing us to this poem, which was found on Break out of the Box.
My Blog Friend, Bunk Strutts of Tacky Raccoons fame, has tagged me in another meme. It’s seven things you never knew about the tagged person, and then I have to tag six more poor, unsuspecting fools to continue the Seven tradition. (Sounds like a severed head, Brad Pitt and some deadly sins should be involved, no? At the very least, I expect someone, somewhere is going to poke pins into an Epicurienne voodoo doll when they get this meme)
Here are seven things you never knew about Epicurienne:
1. My accent is so screwed up from living in New Zealand, Australia, Italy and England (with French Monsieur at home) that I have been asked at different times if I come from Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Sweden or Tasmania. It’s the Tasmanian guess that got me. Now Monsieur is getting good at mimicking my accent, which keeps me awake at night; he does my accent with an accent.
2. I make a fantastic seafood lasagne. It’s my culinary pride and joy.
3. I love bandes dessinées (graphic novels), including everything from Tintin to Persepolis.
4. I have a lot of time for Buddhism. It makes sense, hurts no one and shows kindness towards all living things.
5. I dream in technicolour every night. Some nights my dreams are so intense that I wake up completely exhausted.
6. My favourite landmark in the whole, wide world is the Eiffel Tower.
7. I speak English (mother tongue), French (with lots of mistakes), German (enough to discuss Kafka and the environment, preferably not at the same time), Italian (so that when Monsieur’s luggage went missing en route to Naples, I knew the words for contact lenses and shaving foam when we went shopping) and just enough Spanish to find me the nearest Tapas Bar. I can also say various random things in Japanese (including the numbers 1 to 99 but 100 escapes me) and Maori (welcome, white pig, and many different words beginning with WH- which you pronounce F-). Go figure.
That’s the end of my meme.
I tag the following six:
- Razzbuffnik of All The Dumb Things
- Single For a Reason
- Nathaliewithanh, although I still owe Nathalie a six-word meme from months ago; my problem is I can’t choose ONLY six words!
- Rax Lakhani, by way of revenge for his recent London meme-ing of me,
- Jim’s Muse
- Brandon of Mojitos and Burritos
Okay, kids. Put those Voodoo Stress dolls of Epicurienne to one side and get to work. Don’t forget to link back to me when you’re done, so I can learn about your own special quirks.
Pat Coakley keeps her readers busy. There’s no excuse for boredom with Pat on the case, inventing new homework for us all with astounding regularity. One of her recent challenges was photographing manhole covers. At the time I took up Pat’s challenge, Monsieur and I were in Nha Trang in Vietnam. Easy peasy, I thought, I’ll find some great Vietnamese manholes for Pat. But it wasn’t that easy. At first, I couldn’t find any manholes to photograph. Not a one. I started to doubt that Vietnam had a sewer system.
Our last Vietnamese city on the itinerary was Ho Chi Minh City so when we arrived I immediately started watching the ground. “What are you doing?” Monsieur asked, forehead rumpled. “Photographing manhole covers,” I replied, as if it were the most usual thing for me to be doing on holiday. “Why?” asked Monsieur, confused once again by his UNusual travelling companion. “For one of my blogging friends.” I told him. Another frown. The blogging world is still a bit of a mystery to Monsieur.
After a while, and only looking up to dodge oncoming motorcycle traffic, I found a Saigonese manhole:
The following day, I photographed a different sort of manhole, this time with a man IN it! That’s right, people, this manhole was so well disguised by dead leaves and undergrowth that I had to find a local model to demonstrate it. Unfortunately, Monsieur and I simply would not fit down the teeny weeny manhole made for teeny weeny Viet Cong, so this chap, with the hips of a Barbie doll, obliged instead. This shot was taken at the Cu Chi Tunnels, just outside of HCMC. The Cu Chi Tunnels were a sophisticated network of underground tunnels and chambers created by the Viet Cong in the late 1940s and of particular strategic influence during the American War.
The tunnels included kitchens where cooking smoke was vented through a type of hole that dissipated it prior to releasing it into the outside air. The Viet Cong also made false tunnel entrances so that anyone trying to infiltrate their underground home would be greeted by a welcoming committee of fire ants, scorpions, snakes and other pain-inflicting creepy crawlies. In spite of the amazing creativity and intelligence behind the creation of the Cu Chi Tunnels, two thirds of the Viet Cong using them would be dead by the end of the war.
When Monsieur and I finally made it back to London, we found grey skies, cold air and constant drizzle. As my mother said: “you and Monsieur have missed nothing weather wise. It’s rained almost non-stop while you were away and there have even been floods.” Yep. We’re back. On Sunday I braved the rain on my way to the supermarket to re-stock our fridge. Naturally, I took my camera so I could photograph a London manhole cover. For some reason, I hadn’t noticed that in our ‘hood they’re all square or rectangular:
The Manhole Mission also made me think of the manholes in Rome, which are emblazoned with SPQR, Senatus Populusque Romanum, or Senate of the People of Rome. SPQR has been knocking around since the time of the Caesars, quadrigas and laurel leaf hair accessories, so this has to be one of the best manhole covers in existence:
Isn’t it incredible how something we walk across every day can become an object of interest once we decide to photograph it for Pat?
Pat Coakley of Singleforareason fame, has issued a couple of interesting blog challenges recently. There was the ‘What’s on your refrigerator?’ challenge, and now there’s the revealing ‘What’s in your refrigerator?’
Here’s why I didn’t participate in the first fridge challenge:
See? There’s nothing ON my fridge. Usually I love weird and whacky magnets, but we currently have wood covering our refrigerator, so nothing sticks to it apart from post-it notes and I’m working hard to stem my addiction to those. What’s NEXT to the fridge is a calendar of beautiful French scenery, including lots of inspiration in the form of market stall pictures. Less interesting is that vertical group of white pipes to the right. It’s some sort of ancient radiator which we leave turned off because, when it’s on, it has a habit of making sounds like a UFO landing on the roof, which can be somewhat disconcerting when it happens at 3 in the morning.
Here’s the fun part. What’s IN our fridge:
On the next shelf down is some Bonne Maman jam for tartines at the weekend, butter, garlic pulp for moments when the fresh bulbs are too dry to use, rouille for soupe de poissons and that nasty lemon juice that comes in a plastic lemon bottle. I prefer the real deal, but somehow this plasticky thing found its way here so there it stays until it expires.
Third shelf down is parmesan cheese which we use on everything from Caesar salads to pasta sauces, more milk (semi-skimmed), croutons for salads, coffee for Monsieur’s utter madam of a coffee machine (highly temperamental and sees me coming every time), feta cheese for Greek salads, salad onions, free-range eggs and a wicked raclette platter of charcuterie and cheese.
At the bottom we have Dijon mustard, more butter (has to be Président, a mild French brand, for Monsieur), half a cucumber, prosciutto and a bag full of raclette cheese from the French farmers’ market that tempts me out of the office whenever they come to town.
Hidden away in the drawers are lots of salad ingredients, fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, chives) tuna steaks, chicken breasts and a selection of French dried sausage in three varieties: duck, wild boar and tomme de chevre (goat’s milk cheese). I still haven’t tried the tomme de chevre type, but am curious to see how cheese works in a dried sausage. Hmmm. Intriguing.
I think you can probably now understand why Monsieur and I are destined never, ever to be size zero.