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I’m in my newly painted kitchen, perched at the central island housing a gas cooker, where a paella is progressing just off to my right: I bought a “real” paella pan about  5 months ago: tonight I took it out for the first time, and it is hard at work on my stovetop, its contents burbling and bubbling and steaming:  rice being cooked in a fragrant fishy, chouriço and chicken and squid; and later, prawns and mussels stew… when I added the baby squid, I stood there, feeling a little squeamish  when those little tentacles started curling and squirming as if still alive.

I added, true confession, yellow food colouring to the saffron water: to try and achieve that yellow with saffron only, is a recipe for food tasting of bleach: blech!! Once, in a famous Franschoek restaurant, the saffron scented (as they say) jus and mash was inedible and I was too much in awe of the famous chef to say anything: but I secretly vowed to always be very careful with that pinch of  expensive stamens.

Anyway: my beloved is away, but only for an early evening: playing the oboe at a concert of Christmas songs: I saw him first playing that same oboe years and years ago, and probably fell in love with him then, though that may just be my fantasy… now he plays primarily the sax: the tenor sax, though I hear him play the alto with such flair from time to time..when he teaches women: it is smaller and more compact and the sound is of course different… I introduced him to Art Pepper, my favourite alto sax player: years ago now too.

I feel married and mellow.

And even if alliteration is totally passé and looked down upon by serious writers, I like to think that this paella is picture perfect.