Friday again. Again I did not work today. Saying that, I recognise that “work” almost always denotes for me practicing my profession, so more accurately, I was not at my rooms today. I did work. Tidied up my house. Finished sewing two pairs of comfortable pants to pack for a seaside holiday soon. Shopped for essentials. Held a plank or two of wood in place for my husband as he attached the batting for a soon to be newly erected fence. He is cladding a horrid looking precast cement wall with vertical planks painted in Antique White sealant/wash. I plan to plant romantic roses, heavy-headed when in bloom, clambering wildly over the new wall in a couple of years. White and pale pink and deep cream. I can almost imagine this back yard years from now. And in the front of this newly raised bed, I will have herbs and edible flowers spilling over the sides into the existing vegetable patch which last summer yielded endless spinach and rocket and another six different kinds of salad leaves, and fat red sweet chillies heavy on bending stems.
The serious planting will start in a while. Before then, we will have a long awaited holiday: ten days on the West Coast of South Africa in a self catering log cabin on a promontory in a small village, with 180 deg views of the Atlantic. Mussels on the rocks 50 meters below waiting to be harvested, a mouilles pot in the modest kitchen expressly for that. (Friends of ours have recommended the place, so we know more or less what to expect).
I’m thinking about Holiday Food. Not that it’s so different from home food here. Mouilles mariniere has certainly been cooked in this Johannesburg kitchen, maybe not quite with the kind of aplomb which I’d like to offer ordinarily. Unlike here, down there I imagine there will be a morning harvest of fresh mussels. I can imagine the scrubbing and pulling off of the beards as they get prepared, the satisfying clicking and popping of opening shells at the bottom of the pot being shaken on the plate, the aroma of white wine and celery and onion and another, of ozone and the ocean, soon filling the air.
And long before that, we will have eaten padkos: roast beef sandwiches and cold chicken and frikkadels packed into tupperware containers, like when I was little. My mother used to keep those at her feet. She would fall asleep not an hour out on the road, after being up all night before making sandwiches and sewing clothes for me and my sister. Somehow the boys always got clothes bought for them: maybe it had something to do with an idea that it’s not quite masculine to wear mommy-made clothes.
Back to food: the holiday started there: the tomato sandwiches and the frikkadels or meatballs would be passed back to us by my mom. The cold meatballs were smaller that the usual Friday night patty at home, but bigger than the ones made for cocktail toothpicks, stuck together with a green baby pickled onion which featured on a hors d’oeuvres platter in the 70’s parties in the home I grew up in. A chicken drumstick, still slightly warm from having been cooked less than an hour before early dawn would be sticky in my small hands.
It would still be dark when we would be woken up and bundled into the back seat of an ordinary sedan paid for with a humble teacher’s salary and driven by the teacher himself: my father. I used to demand to sit behind him, and would stay awake with him and for him when everyone else had fallen asleep. We sometimes spoke in soft murmurs, him and I, but mostly there was just the slow silence of an early morning, with a sluggish sister next to me sighing in her sleep until the sun came up.
We are going to drive down to the Cape, my husband and I, and sleep over in Graaff Reinet. I will make some food for the road: fragrant meatballs for sure and cold chicken and roast beef and horseradish and rye sandwiches. And a thermos flask filled with coffee brewed on the stovetop in my biggest moka just before we leave. I’ll pack a little moka too, since I doubt that the cottage will have one for my husband’s morning ritual. Oh, and the electric coffee grinder. I need to make a list, I think.
In the mean time, I’ll have another glass of wine and anticipate wide sea views and long days and deserted beaches and cold champagne, probably sipped from ordinary beach house issue glasses. I won’t take champagne flutes from here. But I will take a good knife. I was going to, even before I was advised to do so by the fellow foodie friend who has been there before. Self catering places are usually low on (good) culinary equipment. I remember my mom bemoaning the lack of a sharp knife often at the various places we stayed at as kids. Mostly though, she would have thought of everything. As mothers do.
I am, for those days, just going to be another 50 plus year old woman on holiday with her husband. I’m looking forward to doing almost nothing except sit and look and smile and walk and sit and dream and sit and write and draw and stand and walk and sleep and breathe. And cook. And eat. Oh yes.