Ever been to a mess hall and discovered that you’re too late for chow? Some mess halls run on a very strict schedule – based upon the knowledge that they’ll have to serve out a meal to the next lot of troops at a specified time and they need the dixies back to clean and use again. Bad luck for you if you’ve just been marched up during the hungry interval.
How about a commercial restaurant or bar at about midnight? That’s a reasonable time to shut the hatch as well, as the staff need to clean up for the next day and it’ll be on into the night for them.
But how about a café on a trendy restaurant strip in the centre of town – on Saturday lunchtime? Closing the kitchen at 1:00 and turning the eaters out at 2:00 in the afternoon when they still have hunger and money seems to be a particularly stupid thing to do. Yet it happens all the time here in trendy, cosmopolitan Perth. Eat up and get out and you can admire our decor from the street…
We have been in the habit these last few years of thinking that Perth has become an international city, open for art, cuisine, and commerce. We thought that the days of the 1960’s when 1:00 Saturday saw the shop doors slam shut and the sidewalks roll up were finished. We thought we could get something to eat on Saturday Arvo, without having to go to a pub or the footy. So it might have been during the Café Spring…but we have passed into a different season. Back to the good old days of dead Saturday afternoon.
Well, the coffee pot at home still works, and the biscuit barrel is full. And another lesson has been learned.
Last month I watched people promoting their causes. Well actually, not their causes as such – more a case of causes that they agreed with. Or seem to agree with. Or were paid to agree with.
I am now wondering a lot of things about them. Did they believe what they said? Did they say what they believed? Have they read any of the stuff they clicked over at everyone on the social media site? Or was it all just a sham performance designed to get our attention – not on the causes – but on them?
Well, we’ll find out in two weeks when I start following the news feed again. A lot may have happened in this month, and that may change the way they think or the things they say. At least it will serve as a test to see if they change either their minds or the topic. In case that sounds a strange combination, remember that the definition of a fanatic is one who will do neither.
Note: I do favour goodness over badness and virtue over vice. But I may see these items in a far different light than you. To save time and trouble let’s just proceed from the premise that I am right and you are wrong, and you can apologise and offer compensation for your errors later. It is not an onerous demand – I can be bought off with baked goods.
- When Facebook is not an option: When you have committed yourself to a month of no FB to see what the effect on your life will be.
- When you do not want the latest toy that your toy retailer has put out on the shelf because your current toy is working just fine.
- When the motion pictures on offer at your local cinema are too juvenile for words or too politically correct to stomach.
- When every new trendy drink costs $ 20 and every new trendy food in the restaurant costs $ 50.
Answer? You blink twice, knock the water out of your ears, and come to your senses.
- Firstly, you do things that do not involve Facebook. Hobbies, for instance. Or reading. Or writing. Or visiting friends. Or going for little trips. The things you did before you first bought one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s nickel bags.
You’ll have time for things that you ran out of time for prior to Facebook eating your day hollow. Or to put it in another way, you can call into a bar for a drink and walk out again or you can live in a bar and venture out for brief periods. Same bar, different life.
- If you are playing with your toys so hard that the wheels fall off and all the paint is gone, you may need to get new ones at regular intervals. If you are not, the old ones can serve a great deal more time than you’d think. The money you save using the old ones can be put to other uses.
- A motion picture is someone with millions of dollars in the bank telling you a story for ninety minutes while you sit in the dark and cringe at the price of a chocolate ice cream. The story may be well worth the telling and well worth the seeing – if the story teller and the tale are good. If they are new, they gain a whole dimension.
If the tale is not new – if it’s a re-hash of something you saw in a comic book in 1957 – or if it’s so puerile as to suggest a Little Golden Book worth $ 4,000,000, you are perfectly justified in giving it a bye rather than a buy. With ninety extra minutes and the price of the ticket and the chocolate ice cream in your pocket you can immerse yourself in the best of new or classic literature and feel a lot more adult for it.
- At the end of spending from $ 70 to $ 120 at dinner time you are entitled to feel both full and foolish – but in some cases you’ll only get the latter. Some restaurants do, indeed, see you coming. And then they see you off.
You need not spend that much to feed yourself, either at home or on your travels. You need not eat badly, unless you’ve fetched up at a country town that has nothing on offer at all except a blood pit pub. If you’re going to be on the road, take an emergency pack of beer, soup, crackers, sausage, and cheese, and even if the town has closed for the night you should be able to go to bed fed. If you are in a strange city look for a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Greek restaurant and eat what they cook.
If you are at home, consider the advantages you have – your own pantry, your own icebox, your own cellar. Your own expertise at preparing something that you like. Your own schedule. Do not sacrifice these for those fast-food lights winking down the road.
- We don’t open until later.
- We don’t open on Public Holidays.
- We don’t accept Masterdinersamericanexpressvisa card. And the till doesn’t have change. Exact money or go away.
- No dogs allowed.
- No children allowed.
- No coaches.
- No split bills.
- No thongs or singlets.
- No seat without a reservation.
- No reservations.
- No seats.
- No parking on the verge.
- No parking in staff bays.
- No parking.
” I don’t know what it is about the people in this town, Maurice. We open a world-class art gallery and poetry slam café at the edge of an outer suburb on a main trucking road and they just refuse to come. I mean, we have artefacts and avocados, for Christ’s sake. What more do they want? Philistines, the lot of ’em…”
If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.
These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.
I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.
Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.
Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who will make your life better if you recognise the fact.
Souls can take care of themselves. What we’re making here is chicken soup for dinner.
Last night was roast chicken night. With potatoes, sweet potatoes, and whatever else was sitting in the vegetable locker at our house. The whole lot went into a big old covered roasting pan, which in turn went into an oven at 200º C…and then the cook went out and built model airplanes in his Little Workshop.
And they are coming along splendidly, thank you. The main thing was that the cooking process was quite slow and quite simple – and the roast chicken was appreciated by all concerned.
Not eaten all up, however, and that brought me to the kitchen bench this morning. I stripped the carcass of all usable meat and then boiled the bones a little. This, and the jelly left over in the roasting pan, went to make a superb stock – into which everything else that has been hiding in the back of the icebox was dropped. Carrots, peas, a crust of stale bread, a half-cut onion…( It had been drinking…) plus a little more black pepper and a handful of herbs.
The cook is going back out to the Little Workshop and is going to glue landing gear onto airplanes – and tonight’s dinner will again make itself. The point is you do not need to hover over your stove like a TV chef if you have the right ingredients and the right containers. And you do not need to plate it out with a raspberry pureé…
Hint: go look through the Goodwill Store for cooking pots that have proved that they can do their job. Never mind the fancy new kitchen store stuff. Here’s the 1940’s metal roasting pan minus one of its handles which my Dad never did get around to fixing in 1954…I have not got round to fixing it quite yet, myself.
Addendum: The soup was delicious – and there is a pot of leftover soup in the icebox for tomorrow. We live good here.
When I was a very young people, black pepper came in finely divided form in shakers. Together with salt, it appeared at every table in the land, and you could shake it on whatever you fancied. As a child you learned ice cream and pepper is a mistake.
Then it became fashionable to have freshly-ground black pepper – this was about 1959. It appeared at restaurants and in trendy houses in improbably tall hand grinders. An improvement, though in restaurants the grinders were wielded by supercilious waiters who hovered. They still hover to this day, but not when I can get a radar lock on them and activate the Rapier Missile System.
Here at home we also have grinders – some are simple disposable things from IGA that dispense their contents gradually and then can be discarded. There is also an unused coffee mill that makes short work of whole black peppercorns -the results are fine for cooking…but…
But when you are an old people, you have a problem. You can still savour the black pepper, but your gums have receded and you are getting triangular spaces between your teeth. It’s natural, can be kept in check, and need not dismay you – until you eat black pepper and the flecks get in there between your teeth.
You’ll be fine in the main course, but once dessert comes and possibly after-dinner mints, it is a horrid nuisance to have the pepper work its way out and jump into the sweets. Nothing stops ice cream faster than black pepper. Black pepper coffee is to be avoided.
At home you can jump up and brush and floss, but dining out denies this. The best remedy I have found is the shake up a bottle of seltzer and squirt it in there from a foot away – blasts away the stubborn black specks and leaves you fresh for later. Just warn your dinner partner…