Thursday, 7 August 2008
John Silver amid the Indians
I have been invited to celebrate my Indian flatmate’s birthday. I already knew that it corresponded with those of three other Indian people, so it was going to be a pretty lengthy business. I was not, however, aware that Indian birthday parties are basically what you’d get if you had a European Christmas and an American Thanksgiving put together and then threw an amount of rice into the mix to last twelve daughters their weddings. Fourteen hours after the meal, I am still metabolising it at the rate of a ninety-year old elk marching towards his own cemetery against a snow-storm.
In part I blame it on myself. I mean, there were two-hundred things I could choose from that menu, but when I saw that the ‘Chef’s Challenge’ included a free dessert if you could finish the whole thing on your own, my retard slots went jackpot and I ordered that immediately. Something like five minutes later I am presented with a Nan bread the size of a parachute and two gargantuan bowls containing chicken and lamb and rice in a mixture of spicy sauce. All eyes suddenly turn towards me, and a soft ‘oh my God…’ rises from the waiter behind me. For my own part I can’t really tell what’s going on – all communication with other people at the table has been cut off by the curtain of Nan that has been spread around me. I produce a window onto my left by ripping off a piece, and I throw a portion of the lamb and chicken into the rice. I dunk the bread into that, and take off.
The sentiment that span through me at that moment was a peculiar mix between that of Zeus flying towards Leda in the form of a swan and Jesus looking at the mount that he’s supposed to scale with a cross on his back – in other words, drooling with anticipation while simultaneously somewhat daunted by the proportions of the task before me. It also turns out that, like practically all Indian dishes of my knowledge, it is so spicy that if you threw a bowl of the condiment into the red sea all the crabs would come out of it in a gallop. It’s not that I dislike that, just that I can’t seem to eat it without my mind turning to images of a space shuttle taking off from my throat and shooting fire into my stomach.
That being said, the beginning of the meal bode very well, if only because it was really damn good. Abundance means half the quality for me: if there’s one thing I cannot stand it’s those Oriental restaurants where they roast up a piglet, bring it to you in a platter, skin it in front of you, put the skin elsewhere, then just as you’re getting your bowels warmed up for the marathon they remove the plate with the roast piglet and tell you that the delicatessen meal you’re meant to have is the roasted skin. Fuck that three times over. Instead the meal I was having came in quantities to dismantle a diplodocus – and it tasted fantastic.
So at quarter past eight in the night, I was ecstatic.
At quarter to ten, I was officially defeated. I was supposed to finish the thing on my own, but frankly, I don’t want to spend the rest of my days on a wheelchair and when faced with the impossible I tend to shrink into my non-epic proportions (sorry Adidas but that’s bullshit: impossible IS impossible, and if one of you motherfuckers ever try the chef’s challenge then you can testify that for yourself). In order to try and win the dessert anyway (not that I was going to eat it, but I’ll be swingshot if I let them keep it anyway) I was forced to pass some beef by contraband to my fellow Portuguese on my right. Even the Nan I broke in pieces and freesbed it surreptitiously to the other side of the table whenever I was sure that the waiters were turning elsewhere their sharkine eyes. Yet even so, and notwithstanding frequent pauses in the meal, I still found I couldn’t get the whole thing done. The meat all went away, the rice likewise, but there was a small fraction of Nan which I couldn’t for the life of me have approximated to my mouth. I felt like I’d just swallowed a rock the size of a giant rugby ball, and the idea of adding more food to it was as attractive as the voice ‘kamikaze’ would be if it were featured on a Times' employment list. And just when I thought it was over, the Indian guy comes along and brings a chocolate cake!
‘No dude, seriously,’ I tell him. ‘I couldn’t for the life of me eat anything else.’
‘Dude, it’s my birthday! Aren’t you going to have just a small slice of cake?’ The thing about my housemate, it’s he offers food all the time. When he does it at home it’s normally a nut-shot, because the guy’s a vegan as well as a terrible cook and in the best of cases his dishes seem to have been prepared in the canteens of Guantanamo bay, but the problem is that he gets really offended if you refuse. So I normally end up swallowing whatever it is he’s offering, and since I can’t say no, and since it was his birthday, and since the cake was actually really darn good, I ended up having an humongous slice of that too.
The feeling that I had as the cake entered my bowels was probably what the boats at Tsushima must have perceived as a thunderstorm of torpedoes broke into their cargo decks. I sunk as miserably as a paper-boat in Niagara. Currently I’m still digesting. No seriously, I’m just sick. The rest of the celebration will have to wait until the next blog post to be recounted.