I’m slowly disappearing. I used to have opinions and ideas, spend afternoons daydreaming. Somehow I’ve reduced myself to about two topics: work and the baby. I’m totally plugged in too, I can bore completely and effectively with Facebook photo albums, tweet about how hard my day at work was, and text you all about it. Where did I go? It's slow a attrition of the soul being a grown up and living this tech heavy life. The hum of the gadgets that were supposed to keep me so connected, bringing others so close, have turned on me, fencing me in.
I’m a slave to my Google reader, two email accounts, and my cell phone inbox. I will confess that I do get more stuff done, have reconnected with long lost cousins, and even write about food and beverage right here in this blog on my lap top. However, I started to notice the cracks, the 'tells' of this electro-techno-sham this week. First, I read about the suing of Yelp and then I saw the Taco Bell commercial where the guy in a pithy Australian accent decides that he won’t blog about the glorious shrimp tacos because they’re so good he wants to keep the secret to himself. Crikey, Taco Bell portends a food blog. The shark has jumped, ladies and gents.
But I have the antidote, the unplugger of all things electric and banal. In addition, I know that most food flacks won’t hijack it to sell to the hungry masses repackaged as old wine in new skin. It’s called Pastis. At first it’s really unlovable, like a melted Ricola cough drop or the black jelly bean in the Easter basket, like the Plenty without the Good. When I was 22, I worked as a cook on million dollar yachts in Antibes, a lively costal town in the south of France along the Cote d’Azur. Now that may seem glamorous, but in reality I was a servant, on-call 24 hours a day. If the owner wanted crepes at 3 a.m. I made 'em, tout suite. I was the first up to prepare breakfast and last to go to bed. I cooked 6 meals a day: crew meals and guest meals, you can guess who had the Lobster and who got bouillabaisse. I worked two weeks on and two days off.
Every afternoon, wherever we were moored, I would go into the local market and buy food provisions. Baguettes, coquille St. Jacques, and Roquefort by the basketful. The strangest thing to me, was that it didn’t matter if we were docked at port in Monaco or San Remo, there were always a group of people sitting in the shady outside cafés drinking the same cloudy drink, with a jug of water between them and a sugar cube on a spoon balancing on the rim of the glass. Everywhere I went, come the noon hour, tourist and natives alike were drinking this fussy drink, chatting away like finches on a wire. They weren’t drunk or overly excited, but seemed in the midst of some serious tete a' tete, connected in conversation.
On my day off I went to the expat bar where they blared Riviera Radio and welcomed English. I pointed to a tan couple sipping the milky concoction chatting about the Picasso Museum and said I’d have that. The tray arrived with no less that five necessary components for this one drink and I was lost. I took a sip of Pastis neat, my stomach flipped, and I couldn’t figure out what the sugar was for. The deck hand from the boat moored next to ours walked by and gave a wave. I asked him over. “How do I do this?” I pleaded. He was my age and from a moneyed family in London and our backgrounds couldn't have been more different. He showed me the order of ingredients. First the shot of Pastis in the water glass, then the sugar cube on the spoon resting on the rim. Slowly pour the spring water over the cube, dissolving it. He instructed patiently, noting that I could control the potency with added water or smother the bite of alcohol with the sugar. It was a process to be enjoyed throughout the duration of an hour. He asked me if I had a chance to visit Grasse yet, he said he was there his last day off and toured the perfumeries. We talked about the fields of lavender and the fortified city of St. Paul de Vence. We drank Pastis and let the afternoon wash away.
So, I’m inviting you next Sunday, March 28th around 4pm to come to Blue Point in Wayzata and drink some Pastis with me, I’m buying. I really mean it, the stuff we have to do can wait. We’ll put it on the back burner, because we all need to get out from underneath things and we won’t mention our kids or jobs once.
739 Lake St. E., Wayzata, 952-475-3636