Late nights, long, slow trips home and after midnight eateries.
As a jazz musician I have experienced my share of just-missed night buses, long waits in the cold and rain and long, tiring journeys home. I have even managed to miss my home stop, having fallen asleep on the bus. These are the times when all that Zen practice comes in handy. Because, since night buses run only every hour, the wait for the return bus could easily be a long one. But, by whatever means, eventually you do get home after that exhilarating gig, tired and often hungry. And so often the music that you left behind in the club 3 hours earlier you realise is still playing in your head when you arrive home. Music has a habit of taking up residence in your brain. Airs, riffs, motifs, and bass lines implant themselves in the recesses of that part of your brain susceptible to automatic pilot and promptly turn on “repeat.” Depending on the phrases repeated, you can either find yourself drifting of to sleep and consequently missing your long-awaited bus stop, or you can be lifted to such energy heights that sleep, no matter what the hour, is like that fish darting around your hook, always there but seemingly unattainable.
If your hunger had not been abated earlier by either the club owner’s kitchen or a trip to a late stand or kebab shop (thank the gods for late night stands and kebab shops), then your first task on arriving home is eating, filling the void that is your stomach. And this is possible only if there is food in the fridge or cupboard. Only if there is! A few days ago I arrived home a 3:30 am, hungry tired and wet. First stop refrigerator, empty. Then cupboards, empty except for lentils and black, neither which I was going to cook at that hour in the morning. And there were some potatoes. Back to the refrigerator, I wanted to assure myself there was really nothing there. Then I remembered, in the back, just there, a plastic container with foie gras left from the holidays. But there was nothing else except potatoes, no bread, no rice cakes nor saltines nor the little dried toasts they sell in the bakery, no carrots to act as sticks nor celery batons but only potatoes. I spotted a few sprigs of wilted parsley hiding in a corner. And that was it. But suddenly, as revelations always arrive, the words chips and foie gras passed through my hunger-clouded mind. Was it possible? Dare I? Was it sacrilege?
I peeled and then cut my potatoes into straws, I oiled, ever so slightly, my skillet, waited until it was hot and then dropped in the potato straws. I washed and finely chopped the parsley (one has to have some decor). I tossed and tossed the potatoes until they were cooked crispy. A few days earlier I had dried some mandarin peel, so I thought they would add a touch of class to my plate. I placed the chips on my plate and the foie gras on top of the chips, the parsley was sprinkled atop and around, as was the dried mandarin zest. A few turns of freshly ground black pepper and voilà a late night masterpiece. What was missing but a glass of wine and a song. So I poured a glass of red wine of some sort and put on Louis Armstrong. I was happy. I had snatched foie gras from its exalted heights in order to create, dare I say to improvise, a beautiful ending to a wonderful evening.
This song has nothing at all to do with meat and potatoes, but I was comforted by its magnificence.indeed
And sleep came, like a waterfall.