But first, The Plan; a little necessary update
Where I'm at presently is home, which is nice enough. Lovely to be back here after the long hospice stay, but alas that too shall pass. And pass soon enough. But the Plan as at now is that really I'm about to leave home as home, and be far more at hospice (I shan't be calling it respite any longer from now, I think) than here. Come here for day-stays and such, but get myself a 'permanent' room Up There. For as is the way of all of existence, things have changed some more. The details are unnecessary and sort of irrelevant, once parsed and passed along; the effective outcome is to bring my final line of crossing that much closer. The line beyond which I do not take nourishment - eat - at all.
Food will all be gone, and by that action, so shall I be; just a little while later. Explicitly, I am reducing even further my caloric intake, but cleansing as well as I go along. Much like one feeds one's escargot a cleansing diet before their planned ending (heliculturists refer to it as 'purging') I am cleansing the old insides too. This may vary but right now it's the Ayurvedic standby of brown rice, mung beans (sprouted before cooking), supportive herbs and spices, ghee and maybe one type of vegetable only.
It struck me afresh the other day that food is how we are made. It's what we're built of. My entire life is due to food. And it seems entirely fitting to look back on my life through the prism of food, precisely because of the means I face to meet my end - the end of food.
Here's what I think I'm going to do. I'm going to take those fleeting memories or inspirations I still have about food, about specific food ingredients I think, and use that as a point to take me on a story through wherever it leads me. And write it here as I go. I think we might all like a bit of that, mightn't we? Not like I could burn it or put too much chili in and you'd still have to be all polite and say "oh, no, really it's very tasty ... " eh? :-)
I LOVE calamari; specifically meaning food made of the (usually cooked) flesh of squid. It holds a very special place in my memory too, because it sits as one of my very first 'special' foods. You know, special as in a luxury choice rather than a basic staple. In my case, battered fried calamari rings instead of the then-much-cheaper slab of fried fish with our Friday night fish & chips. I understand this is a bit of an Aussie thing though. I would again suspect our Italian and Greek waves of immigrants for blessing our shores with the revelation that this marvellously tasty morsel is even edible, let alone deliciously so. I have eaten it more ways than I could count and can settle on no one favourite dish.
It's also one of those foods that is embarassingly easy to cook just right, yet is so heartbreakingly often ruined by clumsy cookery. And less-than perfect calamari is a dismal offering let me tell you. There is little else in the world as disappointing as tough, rubbery calamari when you were all set for a tender scrumptious mouthful of bliss. My reverie on this textural delicacy was triggered by one of those humdrum daytime cooking programs targetted at the SAHM demographic, so there was not much fancy going on compared to the evening time foodie-first offerings. Simply fresh squid, washed and cleaned, tubes sliced nicely, dusted in flour and dropped in hot oil. DONE. That is all it needs. To get all cheffy though, the guy made a lemon aioli, basically a lemony garlic mayonnaise. Now normally, I am of the opinion that the ubiquity of the fish+lemon pairing in modern cookery is nought but a fad outlived its time. Deeper down I think many people use lemon to mask the 'fishiness' of many types of seafood, protecting their coddled, narrowed palates from any subtleties or nuances arising from the flesh itself, especially when we're talking about the battered stodge that passes for most Australians' fish intake. To me, the lemon just kills most fish. But with calamari, it is almost the perfect accompaniment, in moderation.
Yeah, I missed calamari. I'm over it now. As a little kid it did make me feel grown-up and special to choose the calamari (and to call it calamari, not just "squid rings") and later in life I would as often as not take the gamble in restaurants that they'd get it right and order something like a chargrilled baby calamari salad. There is something about eating the baby calamari that is just very, very honest. It's a terribly explicit thing to do, to put the entire tube and tentacular array of a baby beast in your mouth, like you were some apex predator monster-of-the-deep (oh, wait, um ... ;-) and risk angering the Great Mother Squid next time you go to sea, or something.
I cannot recall the last time I had calamari exactly, but it was in Bunbury, takeaway from the fish & chip shop, and I enjoyed it. Thanks, squid.
Do you like squid? More importantly, who would win a fight between a giant squid and a big tractor? :-)