KATZ’S DELICATESSEN

There are thousands of moments every day when I miss you. When my alarm goes off in the morning I miss your annoyed groan before I sneak sleepily out of the room. When I’m singing really loudly in the car, beating on the steering wheel and tapping my lazy left driving foot, I miss your pitch-perfect harmonies. When I change lanes in an intersection I miss you carefully explaining that it’s unsafe. Same when I forget to indicate, break suddenly without checking my mirrors or cross double lines to chuck a U-turn. I miss you calling me Fangio.

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CANTER’S DELICATESSEN

“Everybody needs a place to rest; everybody wants to have a home. Don’t make no difference what nobody says, ain’t nobody like to be alone. Everybody got a hungry heart.“ We may not have all been born to run, but The Boss eloquently expresses our appetite for love and belonging, with a rousing sing-along chorus. It’s the knots in your stomach, the jolt that wakes you in the night, the sob trapped in your chest. Cud for poets, musicians and writers to chew, and the guts of Maslow’s hierarchy; as unfathomable as existence and inherent as eating.

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GIGI

I discovered envy early. Santa had some kind of over-worked, over-tired single parent mix up with the lists and on Christmas morning my brother received the new bike I’d requested, while I unwrapped the Crocodile Mile waterslide he’d asked for. I scrunched up my face, stamped on the spot and flung my arms like noodles before moping around the backyard, muttering about injustice. Eight year old me watched my brother ride circles around the Hills Hoist with a belly full of envy, before making do by gleefully hurling myself down the slippery plastic runway into the jaws of the croc.

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CORTEZ

“WE WERE IN LOVE! We were so in love I was terrified. He was my best friend; it was this, like, soul mate connection. I can’t explain it.” The tipsy girl mines her emotion memory and details the inexplicable to three rapt friends and everyone else within yelling distance. “Are you gonna go to the earlier acting class? Cause if you go to the earlier class I’ll go to $5 yoga.” With the slumped posture of the dejected, two thespians discuss the motivation for their busy day ahead, in the chipper tones of the blindly optimistic.

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ALPHA

My parents met in Greece in the early 70s, two longhaired travellers escaping the static hum of middle class Canada and the hot grind of working class Australia. Both free spirits, one was the resolute black sheep, the other a dimpled and adored daughter. Greece was the start of a journey that took them round and round the world together, then to a quiet corner of New South Wales where they fed their two babies Greek yogurt with honey. The story of my parents’ first meeting is entwined with my mum’s memories of the cool white, drizzled with sticky amber; it’s a fable that binds food, love and romance.

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JANG TUR CHARCOAL BBQ

Fear. Anger. Hunger. They all sit, Gollum-like, in the pit of your stomach, clawing at the sides and hissing bile. Wretched, debilitating and nauseating, each selfishly demands the resolute attention of your senses, cells and synapses. Combine the three and you’re basically a hyena. And they all make you do stupid, regrettable things. Like punching someone, or eating a whole box of uncooked dry spaghetti, or weeping quietly and uncontrollably on the bus. In fairness, the dastardly trio can also inspire greatness in their victims: resourcefulness, momentum and mettle.

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CUCA

There are good surprises and bad surprises, duh. Good: finding 20 clams in the back pocket of your jeans. Bad: sniffing out a blackened banana in the bottom of your bag. Good: your favourite person arranging for your second-favourite singer to serenade you in a park. Bad: your cat not greeting you at the door cause she’s curled up under your bed, asleep forever. Good: presents. Bad: an expired gift card. Good: a whopping bunch of flowers. Bad: gastro.

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HARTSYARD

Perfect in every way… but his last name is Hitler. Do I have to take his name? Yes, you’re Mrs Adam Hitler. I just couldn’t. Perfect in every way… but he’s a heroin dealer. Does he sell it, like, hand it to the junkie, or is he just the boss? He’s the leader of a cartel, super-rich, Colombian. Is he a good dancer? Continue reading

THE TEST KITCHEN

My earliest cooking memory is of baking a cake with my mum, a cake that contained her dad. The lemon and poppy seed was a popular kuchen in the mid-to-late 80s and seemed an easy, and innocuous, choice for the junior baker. Unless you are, as I was then, a small child who refers affectionately to her dead grandfather as ‘Poppy’.

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