THREE WILLIAMS

During one of my brief jaunts at high school there were three Sarahs in my year. Sarah B was my best friend, but already orbited the earth in a different atmosphere to mine. While I was wearing-in the mustard coloured cardigan my nan knitted for my mum before I was conceived, teamed with my fetching poo-brown corduroy jeans, Sarah B was wearing torn lace slips, floor length velvet capes and knee high boots – all in black. She smoked cigarette butts from her mum’s ashtray for practice, drank beer and wrote florid poetry and verbose journal entries every day. I still jumped on the trampoline most days and had a cat named after a character in The Babysitters Club.
Sarah W had cool parents who schooled us all in the glory of Nick Cave and smoked funny cigarettes around their daughter and son. Sarah was mature and the first to become openly bisexual (not uncommon amongst 15 year olds at an all-girls school), she had a big, slightly crooked smile, an older girlfriend and became a hairdresser. Sarah W’s younger brother took a fancy to me once when we were tipsy at a music festival and later ended up in a brief but blazing entanglement with Sarah B.
Sarah S is a bit hazy; I recall a pale, meek character, a sickly Dickensian orphan type, where my new, true best friend and fellow alumnus pictures ‘skinny, with bad, bad highlights’. Sarah S is either deeply forgettable, a phantasm, or, more likely, two different people. Meaning there could have been four Sarahs in my year: Sarah B, Sarah W, Sarah S and the other Sarah S. The only person I’ve ever met who shared my name was a robust lady who felt an affinity with horses and told me all about it.
On a blustery Thursday in Redfern, when the warm wind whoops through the trees and flips up your hair, I go for lunch at Three Williams with Sarah H. Friends since our days sharing an office with Sara B (not to be confused with Sarah B), she’s an enthusiastic, and coincidentally Sarah-y lunch buddy. Settling into a caramel leather bench seat in the corner of the sprawling concrete-bunker space, the diner is cool and comfortably crowded.
We order two variants of the house specialty: the narnie. Mine the slow cooked pork neck, carrot and daikon salad with hoisin dressing, Sarah H’s the fried tempeh, Asian-style pickled veg, sriracha and lime mayo (both $14), with a jug of fresh peach and vanilla soda ($12) to wash them down. An Indian cousin to this mutant sandwich in LA, the narnie is a fresh made naan wrapped around stuffing – like Pac-Man with his mouth full. The bread is doughy, chewy and alluringly sweet, the right size to be easily handled; the pork is soft, the shredded salad al dente, and the hoisin dressing a salty, sour balance to the fatty flesh. We swap our remaining halves and the pickley slaw and prickly hot sriracha are good buddies for the sharp, fermented tempeh, plus a crunchy little crispy thing is fun for the teeth. We guzzle the delicious soda, all mellow and peachy-sour with well-measured vanilla, but most of all coolly refreshing.
Sarah H and I will be back again soon, and though I don’t think of them often I leave lunch replete and reflective, wondering what the three Sarahs would make of the Three Williams.

Three Williams

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