I am sitting in my new lounge, a second cup of tea cooling on the strangely named “coffee table”: I’m suddenly now wondering where that convention began…why not a tea table? At least there’s some poetry to that!
I have been in the new house for just over a week: the move went incredibly smoothly, with the removals man at my gate at 7h45 on last Friday morning, 15 minutes early finding me breathless on a stepladder unhooking the last curtain, my third cup of tea on this same coffee table, swept clear of books, and other objects already carefully packed away in a small box labled Elli bowls: I have a friend who is a porcelainist and over years I have acquired a collection of exquisite bowls and objects…she lives in Germany for half the year and the other half is here with her partner of over 25 years who is an architecht and when she is not here, lives quite reclusively in a beautiful minimalistic house on Auckland Park ridge. They are favourite dinner guests…
I have had some dinners for two here since my boyfriend duly brought supper over on my first night here a week ago. Last night I served us a really nice ragu: cooked like Marcella Hazan suggested for about 4 hours on the lowest setting on the smallest hob of my already beloved gas stove. And I made fresh fettucini! I took out my pasta machine for the first time in about two years: at the previous place my kitchen counter was designed in a way where there was not enough grip for the clamp, so I packed it away… I spent an afternoon like an Italian mama: in my kitchen, first making the pasta dough(also a la Marcella though once you know the ratio of egg to flour there’s no great mystery) and resting it in the fridge, while I chopped onion and celery and onion for the soffrito…(or is it sofrito?)
It was such a thrill to see the strands of fettucini swell out from the roller as I turned the handle: that smell of fresh egg and flour reminding me somehow of the fragrance of freshly laundered linen…
I had a long bath before my lover arrived, as I do almost ritualistically when I cook for us, and washed my hair, as I do, but when he kissed me later he told me that my hair was redolent of ragu: perfume and pasta sauce… and by that time wine on my breath.
I will have a first Sunday lunch here later: for my dad and his girlfriend and my lover and the three sons we have between us. I am doing a leg of lamb roast, with morroccan flavours and a huge bowl of couscous with mint and coriander and feta and dates and soft dried apricots and orange zest and pistachio… and roasted butternut…..maybe figs and halva ice cream for pudding: I am not sure yet…yum!
I am looking over to the dinner table, in a little dining room space just off the lounge, with a bay window, where we will all be sitting around in a couple of hours. At the moment a pewter vase with stargazer lilies which have not opened is standing in the middle of the table: the stems with their demure buds reaching almost the width of the table. Soon they will start opening and then there will be no trace of shyness: glorious, bigger than my hand, petals curled back to reveal their dripping and dazzling innermost parts displayed with an almost insolent self congratulatory glory…. And then that particular fragrance will blend and mix with all the cooking smells of all the meals which I will cook in the next week…one dinner for a lover, one Wednesday meal for hungry sons, and one dinner party next Saturday.
I think I’m home!