Sunday, February 04, 2007

Welcome to Flatland

Buttered brown bread in abundance, and all helped down by several fucking litres of Highland Spring. There are signs of hope on the horizon. I find myself here, anticipating an overdue dump of snow, with 160,000 gassed turkeys and the world’s most expensive meal on my mind. The former is an attempt by the bio-police to hold back the inevitable explosion of H5N1 in one of Bernard Matthews’ bootiful battery factories, the latter a one million baht wank-fest involving 18 star’s worth of signature dishes accompanied by a predictable “uninterested investor” wine selection. The news provides coarse culinary orientation of sorts, lying at the extremes of the Epicurean scale; my cantankerous existence would appear to lie somewhere between the two. It is especially useful to visualize this scale as being one-sorry-dimensional, for there is no doubt that I am currently staring down the barrel of a life devoid of peaks and troughs.

But it could be that I am beginning to settle in to Flatland. He no longer, for example, turns in an instant from calm and considerate father to deranged maniac at the sight of his one-year old trying hopelessly to consume a banana or deciding half way through a spoon-fed plate of rough vegetable mash, which he spent good time he didn't have preparing, to mix it with sticky warm snot and rub it all into her eyes. Notwithstanding the rage as the three-hundred-and-forty-fifth flattened raisin squelches between his morning toes. But more telling is the clarity with which I have been approaching the evening meal. Like a foggy film that has lifted from my brain, the food has cut through the crap and been quick and fuck-free for a while.

There was Monday’s hot-shit soup of water, carrot, ginger, coriander and salt; Tuesday’s fresh butter-fried herring fillets floured and egged and rolled in oats and served with parsley and lemon; Wednesday’s seared slices of rare rump steak with neep & thyme mash and truffle-dressed leaves; Thursday’s roasted Chinese-five-spice duck leg with celeriac puree and some stir-fried purple-sprouting with soy; Friday’s fresh mackerel, pan-fried until crispy and bursting with oils cut by a caper and watercress salad dressed in a simple lemon vinaigrette; and today’s crispy pork belly with fennel seeds and a stew of cannellini beans cooked in cider – no more than an elaborate excuse to walk back from the newsagent's with the paper and a can of Blackthorn at ten o'clock in the morning. Nobody batted and eyelid, as it turned out, which helped crystallize all the more my little fantasy of taking my purchases home via a park bench. (A lovely chilled can to take the fur out my mouth; a wrap of Cutter’s Choice too to numb the itchy rasp at the back of my throat; a packet of mints to counter the deathly stench of bitter sweet sweat; a newspaper to bring purpose to my actions; and endless hours trying to convince myself that it’s all being carried out with irony, merely childish and attention-seeking play-acting.) It would be a bleak picture indeed if this were for real, of course.

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