Curious about the 'Beans' come meet us at La Boca Cafe, Kentwell Road, Allambie Heigh
Two years without being able to travel to my ‘other’ home – an old chalet in the French Alps – I visit it often in my memory. I remember…
Before heading to life in the mountains, John and I decided on a meal at a swanky Parisian restaurant: Le Relais de Louis XIII, housed in an ancient convent. Inside we discovered we were the only lunchtime diners. An army of waiters ushered us to a table set with an alarming array of implements. The menu resembled a medium-sized advertising hoarding and in the dim old-gold lighting we could barely read the elaborate descriptions of the culinary masterpieces, much less understand what there was to eat.
There was a waiter for the order, one for la serviette, one for wineglasses, one for the bread. We conversed in whispers, trying to look dignified but were too timid to ask about troubling aspects of our choices. The Breton oysters were served on a bed of what looked suspiciously like seaweed. Did we eat it? No familiar slice of lemon or tomato wedge here! The honeyed pheasant arrived, borne aloft on a silver platter by a waiter who presented it for our approval and then proceeded to carve delicate slivers and arrange them artistically on large plates, leaving the best bits on the bones, on the platter, which he whisked out of sight. The pheasant was tender and delicious, swimming in honey, fragrant with thyme. Dilemma…how to get back the rest of what we considered rightfully ours? I wanted to ask the waiter for it - politely, in my best French - but with only two months’ living in his country, he quite intimidated me. We could at least mop up the delicious sauce with chunks of baguette – Gallic fashion.
Several courses later and well into our second bottle of ridiculously expensive wine we started practising our French on any waiter too slow to escape. Eventually we rolled out into the grisaille of a wintry afternoon, convinced that we had had an ‘experience’.
But the day was not yet over. Near the Seine a film crew was set up in front of a famous bar. Ignoring the creeping afternoon chill, we stood, transfixed, on the pavement with other cinéphiles, watching stars Romy Schneider and Yves Montand in action.
It was a beautiful summer day. I was standing next to the kitchen sink and eating a very juicy mango. The juice was dripping down my checks and chin. My nose was involved also. Instead of washing my face I rubbed the juice in every pore on my face.
The juice dried quickly and formed a mango face mask. It felt good. I sat on a sofa, put my feet up and was listening to Stefan Grappelli creating magic on his violin.
Every time I eat mango, I think of my dear friend Marris. I used to work with her husband. Our office was at the front of their house. Every lunch time we would join Marris and the kids for lunch on a garden patio.
Marris and I would eat mangos the way I ate earlier. The children would giggle and laugh. It was a very happy time. My thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the garden glass sliding door. It was Ela. I let her in. Through a tightly closed mouth I mumbled, ‘I can’t talk to you, I have a face mask on’.
‘I will talk,’ she said. We sat at the table. ‘Jenny has hurt me terribly. She said to me, “I complain all the time....”, she went on and on. Then suddenly stopped and disappeared to the garden.
I wanted to laugh but I couldn’t because of my mask. I heard a knock on the front door. It was Jenny. I let her in. Through my tightly closed mouth I mumbled, ‘I can’t talk to you. I have a face mask on my face’.
‘It is alright I will talk,’ she said and went on. ‘Ela is no friend of mine. I will never speak to her again’. Ela’s face appeared at the glass door. Jenny ran through the front door. Ela disappeared also.
I ran to the bathroom and washed my face and let my suppressed laughter free. I saw the two friends two weeks later sitting on a bench chatting and laughing.
Every time I have a mango mask on, I hope no one will knock on the door.
Once upon a time, four young adults from different parts of the world were living under the same roof in the North side of Sydney.
A couple who love to make jokes were from Ireland. Some of the jokes they make contain highly racial contents that wouldn't be appropriate at any settings, however, their housemates didn't care much. Why? The housemates often didn't understand the jokes because of their Irish accent. A few seconds of pause then making a short dry laugh always worked to satisfy them.
There was a proud Kiwi guy who was originally from New Zealand but moved to Perth, Australia at a very young age then grew up there. He was quiet, a huge all-black fan, a devoted Christian who never missed a Sunday service or Saturday service, even Wednesday service that was supposed to be for people working on weekends.
Lastly, a newly joined Japanese girl. She was an international student studying at uni but always busy juggling some part-time jobs to support herself. She had quite a good command of English to communicate with her housemates but when she didn't understand, she put her index finger lightly on her lips then carefully said ‘yes?’ to any questions.
One weekday night, in the kitchen, all four adults were chatting. The Japanese girl was passionately talking about how important being independent is, especially as a young Asian female. The other housemates were listening and nodding while preparing for their meals.
She felt good about their response and finished by saying ‘...you know because I am a good working girl’ with a big smile on her face. The Kiwi guy stopped chopping vegetables. The couple cracked up laughing.
Sneaky the mouse was a small, grey, round creature which would dart here, there, and everywhere, annoying its owner tremendously.
When the owner wanted to play with it the mouse would either stay calm and let the owner play, but, more often than not, it would become cheeky and playful, becoming very elusive and shy.
The mouse would often shake in the corners, and there was nothing the owner could do about it. This went on for many months. The mouse darting and playing or being calm and behaving.
One day the owner had had enough of the mouse’s shenanigans and decided to do something about it.
An emergency call to the IT expert and an hour later the mouse was the best-behaved little mouse.
We got to the station two hours before the train was due to leave. We were early because we were taking the night train from Rome to Paris and we needed seats. We were travelling on Eurail passes - so no booked seating, and we didn't want to spend the night sitting on the floor in the corridor.
At first it looked pretty good - just us and a few others on the platform. But twenty minutes before the 9pm departure time, the crowds started to arrive. And not just any crowds: these were tough, battle-hardened Italian train travellers equipped with blankets, pillows, thermoses and big hampers of food.
We knew we'd have to fight for it, and we thought we could: we were young and fit - we just had to forget about being polite and use our elbows and force our way in. We HAD to get a seat.
We didn't get a seat. At five to nine, the empty train started to roll into the station. As soon as it was next to the platform, people started throwing their bags through the open windows and then climbing in after them. We couldn't believe it. By the time the train had come to a stop, it was full. We rushed on and found, to our horror, that every compartment was full of Italian families, already unpacking their salami and cheese.
We sat on the floor in the corridor with our backpacks arranged so people wouldn't tread on us. It was pretty depressing. After a while I got up and had a scout around. As we were coming into Firenze I saw a family organising their bags and getting ready to get off. I called the others, and we grabbed the compartment the minute the family were out the door. We spread our bags everywhere, turned off the lights, pulled the curtains and locked the door. When the new passengers banged on the window, we ignored them.
When in Roma...
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