French onion soup, for instance. A dish that can instantly transport me to a Montmartre corner café where someone is sure to be playing a sombre number on the grand piano that takes up half the room while everyone looks away determinedly grumpy. But for some reason it feels like it should feel like the zenith of cultural immersion, and I am convincing myself I am completely at one with the place.
I do native very well in places where there is no requirement to smile, speak, or wear a bikini. I was once asked the time by a local in Poland back in the 90s. Or at least I think that’s what he said. Maybe it was “cheer up, love, it may never happen”, which would’ve been a bit rich given the strong whiff of austerity about the place, and the main dish on any given menu being radiator soup. “Yeah, well, as least we’ve started to partially pay for our own road repairs”, I would’ve nose-flingingly scoffed had that been the case, as an acknowledgement of Ireland’s then revolutionary weaning off its over-dependency on the EU infrastructural improvement budget. The only reason I knew that, was because the government of the day used to notify us on massive roadside signs (rough translation: “Don’t get us wrong – we’re still scrounging, just not as much”). These youthful accession states could only dream of such misplaced smugness.
I also almost cut it as a drunk Dutch person once when I confidently demanded frites from a street vendor after a few *mimes rapid movement of glass to mouth action* only to give the game away by requesting an immodest amount of Thousand Island dressing in Ireland’s native language – English. Not content with presenting myself as a knob-end, I went on to helpfully try to explain my urgent need further in reeeeeeeeeeally slloooooooooow, yet R E A L L Y L O U D, English. But hey, I’m merely boasting now.
So yeah, I braved the recipe book earlier and it turns out all you need for French onion soup are the following:
A miserable face
Shitload of onions
Jackie-O shades (for preparation).
Only this is not one of those blogs that parades its culinary triumphs visually while labouring under the notion it looks exactly as it does in the book, or that anyone gives a hoot either way. I’ll leave this one to your imagination.
Picture yourself tucking into a bowl of authentic onion-soup, mandatory tear-jerker radiating off the ivories, everyone looking suitably glum, odd woman in corner trying to frown a little too hard and drawing attention to herself with eager brow furrowing and…….CRASH.
That’d be the sound of my mate tumbling down the spiral staircase. There’s always someone to take the bad look off me.