Saturday, 20 September 2008

European market: dreams CAN come true

Last night I had a dream that I took a job at a small French restaurant. My task was to cut vegetables for salads and wash the large pots and pans. The people around me, in a kitchen that was small but packed with wooden counters, shiny colanders and hanging herbs, spoke French and even though I didn’t understand them I knew they were laughing about me. Yet I was not bothered by my lack of knowledge or the fact that they thought me ridiculous. Slowly I learned about French cooking and even the language. I devoured this new knowledge and was happy. Near the end of my dream there was to be a big celebration in the village and I was going to help with the cooking - a huge honour that was obviously the sign that I had passed the tests I needed to and would now be given more responsibility.

It was a wonderful, affirming dream. I have never had such a dream before - where I was so undaunted and so focused. I took such pleasure in the process of learning and in the new experiences for my senses.

When I woke this morning it was to a bright blue sky. I set out with a mind to find John a birthday present, but soon I was distracted by the European food market just off of Prince’s Street. This market only comes to Edinburgh three times a year and is a Mecca for pastry lovers (I’m so, so sorry you missed this, Craig). I bought a small cake covered in marzipan and chocolate, then some small Italian pastries with flaked almonds and chocolate ganache or white chocolate filling. There was a table full of olives, one with buckets of spice. Mountains of chorizo. Piles of sweets. There was the man cooking the vat of garlic mushrooms, who kindly let me take his photo. When I first saw him he was cutting onions as big as baseballs and keen to learn a secret trick of the trade I asked him how he managed to slice so many onions without dying of weeping.

He smiled and replied, “I have no heart!”
Then there was the shy gentleman who was cooking up a hill of fried potatoes with cheese. And a huge French bakery section, as well as a stall specializing in Greek desserts. I bought Baklava and one other small pastry that was a roll of sticky honeyed angel hair stuffed with roasted pistachio nuts. That is my favourite. In fact, I’m eating it now.

Finally I left the market and wandered off again in search of JP’s present. I knew where I was going - St. Stephen Street, but I was too early and the tiny shop wasn’t open yet. So I spent almost an hour in the Stockbridge Library reading through Tobie Puttock's Daily Italian. I was so engrossed that when I finally left the library it was a shock to be back out on the street again. Why wasn’t I in Italy? Where was my warm spinach salad with pine nuts?

I was successful in my search for the perfect vintage present for JP. I think he will like it. And I discovered a shop that I love but which I dare not spend too much time.

Now I am home, after having battled through the parade of Hearts fans on their way to the afternoon game, their maroon and white scarves blowing in the breeze. The day itself has become dark and foreboding, and I think I will light the candles earlier tonight.
Overall, a very good day indeed. I may just spend the rest of it reading my cookbooks and dreaming of Tuscany…

4 comments:

your new best friend said...

so, yeah. i was watching pbs or some ilk. and it was all about tuscany and restaurants and grapes and people watching and the mediterranean...yeah....so, i am coming there asap

C.S. Perry said...

I've got to start traveling more.

your new best friend said...

ah, my favorite time of day - so's blog. sadly, no updatey. however, rereading this post made me salivate and happy all the same. peace to you superfriend.

norah said...

maybe you could move to italy and learn to cook italian food and then invite us over!!