Taken down a peg: Not as good a cook as I thought I was?

On no account put it to an Italian your gastronomic skills are within walking distance of his, especially if he is a kitchen maestro who has a passion for creating delicious food.

And so it was: A Skype Chat..

Niall:        I hate to ruin your day but

Niall:         …………….

Niall:        well your son mentioned last night.. that my cooking was “like my father’s“…..

Niall:        I take that as a huge accolade 😉

Mr. U (C’s father): I told him to be very polite, gentle, educated and even if he doesn’t like something, always say that was excellent.

That’s how a friend of 24 years humbles an Irishman who hitherto retained a high opinion, albeit short-lived, of his culinary dexterity. Oh well!

[There is a bit of history here: The June 1989 Beijing Food Massacre.

On June 6th I was cooking an Irish stew on a small electric stove in  Room 1106 at the Beijing Language Institute (ak.a. Beijing Language and Culture University).  A telephone call from an unflustered Noel Kilkenny, First Secretary of the Irish Embassy in Beijing, diverted my attention. The city was in lock-down mode, rumours of civil war and further crackdown swirling. He put me in the picture and soon I was running down ten flights of stairs to meet him, having instinctively unplugged the stove and grabbed my toothbrush.

Four months later, I unlocked the door of 1106… Ah the stew still there on the stove… rotten, slimy and mouldy…. And then my roommate Mr. U, the kitchen maestro, arrived!]

Putrid Smily Rotten

Paws for Thought ~ Part 1

Queen Muffin II

Wrapped in Gold

No matter driving rain, howling gale, bitter cold, or blazing sun, walking the length of Dun Laoghaire Pier I am conscious no one values the very unique brilliance of my thoughts and words as much as Muffin does. Behaves gracefully in all situations and circumstances. She never asks why, just sniffs the ground to keep abreast of where we are, wags her tail and pulls forward.  Wonderful!

“…beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity; and all the virtues of man without his vices.

– Lord Byron, ‘Epitaph to a Dog’ (1808)

JC come back and we’ll play a different tune

JC come back and we ll play a different tune

Those who knew JC, and who should have known better, didn’t pursue him, they left him alone. They said JC has gone away to Thailand with his buddy J, wait for another day, he’ll come home. That was in 1996. J never came home. I took charge of his funeral in Bangkok.

JC was all about reassuring the people who knew him “I’ll see you soon” … “I’m going away to find a place to stay, I’m going to dance on the Moon” … “One of these days when I change my ways, I’ll come back home”.

I have finally deciphered JC. His purpose of being in Thailand is to be a nobody in the way of a terminal alcoholic. Such a role is too stressful back in his utopia of origin up North. Blind to the fact that it is his addiction and its consequences that are making him miserable, JC falsely believes that the drink is the only source of comfort and security available to him in a cruel, cruel world.

You see JC has been telling me for three years that he is perfectly aware he has a drinking problem, that he does not intend to let it get out of hand, and that he will be taking steps to control it. He has been adamant that he can and will deal with it by himself rather than seeking any kind of professional or support group help.

Yet, as an alcoholic JC still doesn’t understand the nature of his alcohol addiction and still supposes his recovery to be merely a matter of will power. He doesn’t have the courage to ask for help from others for what he feels he ought to be able to do by himself.

In Thailand JC always has a cheap bottle he can turn to, and he has been turning every day… Long hard drinking.

The bottle doesn’t take effect the way it used to and he’s hurting in old familiar ways. It has let him down and JC has gone beyond the point of no return. He has lost his self-esteem and just can’t find the will to stop.