Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

18.1.09

There goes the neighbourhood.

Nando's has opened in Sydney Road. Call me a food snob, but Nando's is just KFC with a different flavour, a xerox chicken shop with a few fancy ingredients to hide the homogeneity. What will be next? Subway? Once, Brunswick residents were treated on warm summer nights to the irresistible aromas of Turkish and Lebanese barbecue drifting across the suburb from the chimneys of scores of small independent cafes and restaurants that lined Sydney Road. Will it now be the smell of every other franchise-crazy food mall packed with the same half dozen fast food outlets selling the same food packed in the same wrappers to the kind of clientele that feels the need to drop the wrappers exactly where it is they finish gulping down the contents? Support your independents.

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I had forgotten. Children grow. You have to keep changing the house around. They go from bassinet to cot to bed and each time, a new room configuration is required. This flows through the whole house because everything doesn't fit properly in the room any more so it has to go in another one.

Of course, I've been through it all before. The memories float back when your head and shoulders are jammed under a sleigh cot in the process of dismantling it, and you are trying to draw back the spring-loaded plastic fixture that holds the timber base in place preventing it from dropping to the floor along with the baby; and you find that in order to release the timber base you need to draw back the plastic fixtures at all four corners simultaneously, or else the others flex and pop their covers and the tiny springs fall out and bury themselves in the nap of the carpet. And you can't draw them all back at the same time because you have only two arms.

Self-assembly furniture is one of mankind's worst inventions, along with remote controls and plastic flowers. Ikea didn't exist in my grandfather's day. He had a piano in his small Ascot Vale terrace house for fifty years. And played it. Maybe they built the house around it. Maybe the house had wider doors.

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Halfway through summer. Jacaranda's purple haze has given way to cool green canopies and now the oleander is blooming in toxic surf-resort colours of lurid pink, buttercup yellow, impossible red and the almost-but-not-quite pure white of bleached hair or sand. They just about sing.

Years ago, in another house, I had a crepe myrtle outside my bedroom. Its pale smooth delicate limbs were like the arching arms of an alabaster-skinned ballet dancer. During summer, in leaf, its shadow made a tracery on the white concrete render through the glass and its crimson floral display bowed in and out of sight on the warm breeze. When we moved in here, the first thing I did was to plant a crepe myrtle. Last week it flowered, crimson over green like a fire coming down the mountain.

3 comments:

Ange said...

Totally agree on Nandos or any fast food in Brunswick. I am always excited to see a new shop opening and was really dismayed when the Nandos signs went up, lets hope you're wrong & they dont start popping up everywhere

Anne said...

Although there are many benefits to Ikea (one can hand on used baby/toddler items to friends without fear that there will have been a product recall) the initial assembly of their products is one of the household tasks I fear most.

Here, the snow is piled a foot deep on our back deck and a flock of juncos is having what my Maya calls "bird beans" for breakfast. Crepe myrtle is only a dream ...

kitchen hand said...

Ange, the day after I wrote this post I saw another Nando's sign appear in the window of an ex-Blockbuster video shop in Bell Street around the corner from Sydney Road. They're popping up everywhere!

Anne, I wonder if your juncos are related to our sparrows.