Café Glasses

An older man has helped us move a small table away from the wall, my hands are full of bags from the market. Aubergines in all their polished purple, a veritable fruit basket and the most concentrated flavoured cauliflower you'll ever eat. The bags go under the table and I order two cappuccino.

It comes in a cup little larger than what you'd receive for an espresso in a chain coffee house. Tiny bubbles in the foamed milk with a dash of cocoa on the top. It's a very different beast to the brown liquid- white scum combination served in a soup tureen we've got used to seeing around the world. If you want cappuccino then you really need to be getting it before lunch. If you are after a similar drink later in the day you'll have to order an espressino. It's the cappuccino's baby brother and is in all respects bar size pretty much the same. I've not found out why one is acceptable all day and the other only in the morning.

It's a café we've not been in before, a little on the modern side perhaps. Stainless steel and glass with some religious statues from the garden centre school of sculpture. A few newspapers about, the pink sports paper always eye catching. There's also the gum and chocolate rack just by the till and some of the extravagantly wrapped Easter eggs. It's not a bad place to be and it's not bad to have the shopping done by ten.

An African man comes in. One of the pavement hustlers. He carries a tray of sunglasses.
He offers them to the couple serving behind the bar. She takes some pairs and tries them in the bar back mirror.
"Yellow or blue?" The blue are better the clientèle tell her. Then the haggling starts. 10 euro for sunglasses might be OK, but 5's what they're willing to pay. The conversation swings back and forward with lots of mention of crisis. Eventually the see-saw sits level at 5 euro.

As we pay I ask to see a black and white rimmed pair. They suit my wife. Her classic look. We take them for 5.
They're sunglasses.
They're a souvenir.
They're 5 euros well spent.

Poem XXXI

Before me they stood
Back to that valley in Africa
A line of mothers and fathers
Ending in me.

Dumbbells

I bought a 20kg set of dumbells at the weekend. Not a lot of weight, but it's all about progression.
The first workout today was hard but I've done this before and I know it'll get easier.
As strength is a defining android characteristic being stronger makes a lot of sense.
I shall keep track of my progress.


Amaro

Italian cuisine is so intensly regional it'd be hard to generalise, but there's one thing you can be sure of, the presence of bitter flavours.
Wether it's an artichoke, olives or an apertif bitter flavours are understood and part of the whole balance. They're especially useful before meals, although I honestly can't see a huge difference in type and flavour between the drinks categorised as pre- and post- dinner drinks. Sweet drinks, such as Limoncello would certainly fall into the latter category but most of the "Amari", bitter herbal liquors seem to be arbitrarily assigned.
A good entry to the category is perhaps the most well known, and advertised - Campari. It's popular enough to come pre-bottled with soda here which is a nice light drink. Not so heavy on the alcohol and with the soda and a slice of orange it has a real gamut of flavours and textures you'd not find elsewhere.
As it's fairly light on alcohol you might feel like going for its more complex and heavier brother, the Negroni. It's a traditional cocktail which shares the red colour and Campari base but adds gin and sweet vermouth. The bitter/sweet mix is good as is the extra punch of the heavier spirit content. It goes well with olives, usually served unpitted here.

The Cursed Statue: 100 word Pulp Story Starter

7 inches tall, made of gold. The Puglian Boxer statue always brought bad luck. Now it was on my desk.
She gave it to me, to pay for finding her brother. Now she'd lost her fortune and all I ever found of him was his left hand.
The statue was cursed. Everyone who had it lost everything, died or went mad. I needed a drink.
I felt a breeze move behind me and heard a step. I saw nothing, but the statue had gone! I caught movement by the window, a man in black with a silver glove.

The Lost Key: 100 Word Pulp Story Starter

Sweat dripped as he stared at the engravings. He needed to open the temple door and they held the clue.
"The Moon's End?" he read aloud. Ideas ran through his head. The he saw it. A hole shaped like a new moon. With the tip of his knife he turned the moon from new to old.
The stone door moved and he became the first person in the temple for a thousand years. He opened the scroll, as he was reading the jungle went quiet. He pushed his hat back and stepped forward.
"Now to find the Lost key of Tumboko!

Driving Music

There are songs which are driving songs. They have the engine, the build up, the pump of pistons and tyre roar.
Some are road songs by association, there's hardly a British man who doesn't think of Formula 1 when he hears Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain".
Some are road songs by their lyrics, and the span the eras. From "24 hours from Tulsa" through "I Drove All night" and on to "Radar Love". About love that keeps you awake, the need that keeps your foot down and the destination that pushes you on.
What song can you play as the sun goes down and the needle creeps higher. When the roads empty and that white dashed line stretches into the horizon?
I grew up with "Gotta See Jane", it encapsulated a part of my father's own history, of driving up to see my mother when she was at university.


I've never been much of a driver. I don't have my own driving song. Do you?

Piazza Duomo, Lecce

We visited Lecce on Saturday. Definitely worth seeing, much more for tourists and more of the cafe and piazza culture than here.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Craft. Repetition. Relentless.

These words come to mind as you watch Jiro and his sons make sushi. They have become part of a network of experts, from fish dealers, through a rice specialist to a food writer who explains the artistry and the 1000 decisions you don't see.
It's a study in fish. A study in pursuit of perfection, a perfection Jiro admits he's not reached in over 70 years of work. Education is on offer, as a team of master and apprentices assembles a singular tasting menu.
Some customers admit that even eating at one of a bare handful of seats along Jiro's bar is an intimidating prospect being under the master's eye. The pursuit of perfection is equally intimidating, for who can choose their trade and then dedicate their three score and ten to developing it? It's simultaneously beautiful and daunting.

Italy

Another relocation. This time to set life and creativity back on track. Follow it here, I'm looking forward to sun, work and smiling.