Mmmm. August's end-of-month payday celebration dinner, aka the Salty Cracker Club, was late this month - we ate at Ginja
last night. We like Ginja. It's unexpected - you have to sidle down a narrow alleyway to get to the door, and inside its walls are painted a womblike red and the waiters are articulate and astonishingly over-informed. The food is amazing. Nouvelle/fusion, tiny servings laid out with geometrical precision on huge, white, interestingly-shaped plates, with various intense sauces and odd but wonderful combinations of flavour. I always start out that kind of meal thinking "rotten swizz" in terms of quantities, since you pay anything up to four times a steakhouse price for about a fifth of the food, but I'm always totally won over - and full - by the end of it. Particularly toe-curlingly ecstatic taste experiences last night included butter flavoured with honey and black beans, duck with foie gras, springbok wellington, dorado with walnuts, and bitter chocolate mousse served with eucalyptus ice-cream. Also, we drank too much and argued about Terry Pratchett. No surprises there, then.
In keeping with the food theme, this morning I hung out with my sister's family and made purple meringues under the exacting eye of my niece, who is a young lady who knows exactly
what she wants.
This Retro Kiddielit September appears to have additional rules: no famous/obvious books, but instead the ones people might either not have heard of, or might think they're the only ones who ever read. (This is to cover my butt for not covering, for instance, The Hobbit
Gerald Durrell is best known for his often hilarious autobiographical animal stories, My Family and Other Animals
being the most famous; he is also, however, the author of a few children's novels. I grew up with The Donkey Rustlers
, a kid-angled comedy set on Corfu, and on Rosie is my Relative
, a Victorian romp about a repressed young man who is unexpectedly bequeathed an elephant by a mad uncle. My favourite, however, is The Talking Parcel
, a children's fantasy about the underground realm of Mythologia and its absent-minded wizard ruler H.H. Junketberry, and the dastardly take-over plot by the evil Cockatrices. Durrell has that lovely combination of slight insanity with complete matter-of-factness; the adventure is a breakneck hotch-potch of slapstick, derring-do, eccentricity and inventiveness, together with a genuine sense of wonder and beauty and of the importance of preserving creatures put at risk by the modern world. Also, bonus effeminate eighteenth-century weasels, mooncalves, hiccupping firedrakes, a sea monster who's a chef, and a parrot who uses more long words than I do.