Fri 25/08/2023

Yesterday I went to bed very late because I am an idiot (spent the night watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes for nostalgia, if you can believe it) and as a result I woke up fairly late today. Familiar guilt washes over me as I try to overcome it by keeping busy. Staying up late, sitting by the window, you witness a few bizarre and concerning things. First there was yelling, I looked over and from an idling car three young guys came out threateningly against a fourth guy on a motorbike; he managed to escape them and went down an alley; the car went down the same alley a bit later and I heard a crash. There was nothing on the local news, so I have no idea what happened. Next time I need to record these things on video - not for the shock value but because they might be needed in court. The second one was two gardai coming out of their car and trying to stop what appeared like your average tracksuit-wearing scummy teenager; he run away on foot while a guard was yelling at him "Where ye going?? we're gonna chase after ye!". They did not chase after him and took off in the opposite direction.

My wife has a work event tonight and spouses are not invited, so I will be having dinner by myself. This always means one thing: I am going to cook something with loads of chilli in it (chilli ravages her lips, she can't have it). I have decided to make pork vindaloo using what, after some research, appears to be a rather authentic goan recipe - although I cannot vouch for it 100%. Surprisingly I had all the necessary spices already, accumulated over months and months of cooking curries. I guess I have a rather solid spice pantry by now. Goan cuisine seems very intriguing; besides the famous vindaloo it features many interesting fish curries (I'm not talking about those disappointing prawn curries, I'm talking actual fish). The peculiar blend of indian and portuguese cuisine is bound to produce surprising and unusual dishes; I need to get myself a goan cookbook, if they make ones for westerners. It's early afternoon and the vindaloo is already cooking on the stove, because curries are so much better when made in advance - ideally even the day before, but it was unfeasible this time.

I have been to the market again for a few things: fiordilatte and artichokes for tomorrow's pizza, some olives because it's good to have them at hand, ricotta, bread. I've also bought some more vegetables and among them some local heritage tomatoes. I should have bought more because I tasted some before adding them to the vindaloo and they are gorgeous. I cut an orange-tinted one open and inside it looked like a ripe kaki. Tasted a little like one too, as it was soft, rich and sweet.

I realise that I probably sound a bit silly talking about food and my shopping at the market all the time, but these simple things make me happy and can make my day, so why gloss over them and talk about something else as mundane, like work or where my back hurts or whatever? And isn't it better to be made happy by the small and simple things, that are so much easier to come by, than by large and momentuous events that are instead so rare? It is rare to be happy at all, so I take what I can get.

I am progressing slowly with Moby Dick because of the aforementioned lack of reading time during the day. I am also feeling a little guilty because I still haven't finished the other book I was reading before Moby Dick, "Slapstick" by Vonnegut. I used to read multiple books concurrently many years ago but it was not a great idea - usually I would end up abandoning all of them one by one, replacing them with new ones I would sample but never finish, in a never-ending cycle. I try to avoid doing that now. Of Moby Dick I like the structure of short chapters and I like the variety of them, how they wax and wane between the narrative, the expository, the descriptive and the lyric. I'm only at chapter 30 or so and I can already tell why it's a literary masterpiece.

The weather keeps making fun of us, offering some sunny spells that are nevertheless compromised an hour later by dark clouds. Earlier when I was outside, the sun was beating down on my eyes and I regretted not having my (ridiculously outdated in terms of prescription) sunglasses with me; not two hours later I'm having to turn the light on in the room as it is getting too dark. Even when the sun shines the air remains cool, the only heat being afforded directly by the solar radiation blasting your skin. The sensation is odd but pleasant, as it reminds me of childhood summers on the Alps, the only thing missing being the smell of pines and grass and cows and streams and ravines and all the other beautiful things that make the Alps what they are.

The wife is talking about sneaking in some hidden booze into the venue tonight, as they offer limited drinks (never put puritans in charge of the alcohol). I fully support the idea, my pals and I used to do that at the Fringe Festival as poor grad students - a few tinny bobs hidden in our backpacks, topping up our plastic cups under the tables and such, someone on the lookout for the fun police lest we get kicked out. Fun times.

ADDENDA: I'm generally very critical of my own cooking but the vindaloo was stratospheric - fragrant, aromatic, spicy but not overwhelming. Restaurant quality really. Absolutely recommend that recipe.

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