The food you cook is never like the food in porn. It never glistens, without seeming oily. It never sits, isolated and perfect on the plate, a taxidermied animal. The food you cook is always eaten as its done. When pasta’s soft before the chips reach crunchy, you’ll toss in sauce and suckle from the pot. When apple crumble browns and pants Cinnamon breath into the kitchen, you’ll slice and dice and down it well before your roast is toasted. The food you cook, it never seems to satisfy. This morning when you buttered lunch, and filled it full of sheening condiments, you ate it up along the way. As one set of pitta’s rose under the grill, another vanished from the plate. It was a race to the garnish, with you the sweltered judge, dizzy just to track the fierce competitors.
This morning as you drove to Dublin, one arm blindly lurching in your VG’s crumbling backseat, five furred and spidery fingers unwrapping butter and marmalade, chocolate spread and sprayed cream from a can; you sucked it up and frowned back at the empty wrappered cabin. Lunch stayed gone.
This morning edging into afternoon, you parked, and shuffled muttering along the shiny danishes of circling traffic. Then down you sunk in a deflated souffle to the level of the street, and passed coffee shops, and franchise take aways, and caught the whiff of all day Irish breakfasts, and the tallowed meaty fumes of skinny fries, and kicked yourself, as always, for a little stale.
The queue at Eason was unreasonable. It stretched down Talbot street to Chapters, drooling with anticipation. You hung onto the end, stared back at the cool sherbet refreshment of Australia, peered anxiously into the darkened rump of the Epicurean. You trotted forward as the sweety trail grew shorter, and sweated meaty into the clingfilm of your clothes. In the afternoon haze, your wide sun bonnet stuck fierce and tight atop your head, and your knee high cotton bobby socks sank around your swelling feet. The hours after one simmered you slow and heavy, from the dripping pudgy bratwurst of your lips, to the hunkered mustily drumsticks of your thighs. You’d never be more food than now, a June turkey, hugging his hardback slick against your whetted breast, marching forward drib by based drip.
Up ahead, somewhere in the downstairs books in Eason, he is tossing back slick pan full’s of loose blonde. He is resting his head on the shoulders of grannies, for frozen Golden Moments. He is signing furiously. He is the the glue that binds your mornings to your afternoons, his tooting scooter dancing down the cobbled straits of perfumed avenues. He’ll take a sprig of this, and a mortared crunch of that and build a virgin feast. Autumnal shots dissolving from a loving pan over each freshly steaming dish, to a wooden table under a Mediterranean sky; with laughing children, with grandfathers tickling their rosy paramours with gruff staccato voices, and him in the middle of it all, joking shyly en Francais or in Italiano, as the view shifts to the stars and the credits role to his funky and delicious theme.
Bah dah dah dah. The queue has shrunk and grown restless. Up and down the wall and shopfronts of the street, housewives glance worriedly at their watches, timing the release of children. Elderly couples in beards and winter jackets shuffle their bottoms on deckchairs. Smart pinstriped Morriseys toss River Island jackets over their shoulders and tersely quaff their quiffs. Your belly starts to rumble. Deep down low it in, fierce bright and acid, juices roil and bubble. You plant your feet askew, and rise your arms in one great hefty yawn. You search your purse for a forgotten Cadbury. You shuffle your feet into a salsa on the spot. Baaaa dah, dah dah, dah dah dah, ba dah, do do, di di, di di di. You plant your hands upon your thighs and pant awhile.
A little laugh, and you turn round. ‘You’re funny’, sniffs the wee dote, from down beneath your knees. ‘Silly lady’, she sniffs again, one tiny paw spreading a snot across her face. ‘Why are you so fat?’.
You wait for the parental censure, but none comes, so you turn back to the creeping queue, and hold your head up high. You ignore the tiny hands insistent tugs for your attention, and watch a pack of Luas’s skip by, silver whippets slipping through pedestrians, great glassy tongues sweating froth into their hides. The great gold ginger biscuit sun begins to dip. The line shortens, shortens, shortens, and you’re in.