Monday, 19 January 2009

Geographic Gastronomy

Sunlight glinting on sugar crystals catches my eye.

The lady who cleans my office brings in
homemade onion bhajjis
in the most extravagant and eccentric shapes.

The tiny American academic tells of her Christmas holiday.
She travelled in rural parts of Japan
and ate ferns.

The Head of Department listens politely
and then describes the conference in China
where he ended up in a restaurant called
The House of Frogs.
Everything on the menu was based on frogs.

The tiny American academic rises to the challenge.
She tells us that she was the honoured guest
at a meal in China
and was given a bowl
and a plastic glove.
She retrieved the goose foot
from the bright orange sauce
and chewed it ostentatiously.
It was essential to show how much she enjoyed it.

The Head of Department retires gracefully.
The tiny American wins.

My tall, friendly academic from two offices down
explains that he is no longer vegetarian.
He stayed in a hotel in Wales with an amazing menu
and had an overnight conversion
so that he could eat the Full English Cooked Breakfast.

This ex-vegetarian describes a dish of duck
cooked with red onions and plum sauce
in such detail that it makes me feel hungry to think of it.

What will MasterM be eating
this time next week?

We pore over guide books
with recommendations for steak restaurants
in Buenos Aires.

He reminds me that his uncle
came back from South America
with bags of deep fried grasshoppers.

Roast Beef for supper.

Unless I go to the supermarket NOW
there will be no food in the house this week.
We might need to eat the pointsettia.
Which would be bad for Family Karma.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

the end of term

A black cat sits and waits for me to walk past
and then slowly and deliberately walks in front of me.
I feel lucky today.

The chocolate tart at the Department Christmas Lunch
is the lightest of mousse
on top of a thin layer of Florentine.

A small granddaughter arrives for
the Children's Christmas Party.
She sparkles with sequins and smiles.

Why is this student is wearing a long black coat.
And black sunglasses.
And a white, furry hood with earflaps and bobbles?
Think Mafia meets Bugs Bunny.

There is a man outside my office doing T'ai Chi.
It is extraordinary how much he can do
balanced on one leg.

I receive an apology for a missed meeting
"I was queuing at the Libyan Embassy.
They had run out of stickers"

Colleagues email from Venice.
It is flooded and they need a boat
to take them to a restaurant.
Poor things.

What is the correct way to address a student
dressed as a Father Christmas Dog?

I am told that the office doorstop which I inherited
is a chunk of Volcanic Lava from Iceland.
It is, apparently, 'very mobile'.

The December page of the Student Naked Calendar
is slightly too fresh for the Reception
and is covered with strategic Post-It notes.

MrM wins £50 in the Premium Bonds.
He generously agrees to go 'halfy/halfy' with me...
(on the basis that if I win £1 million he wants a share)

Somehow I have made it
to end of the first term
in my new job.
I am exhausted.