Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fame is a fickle food, upon a shifting plate.

I want to dispel a myth. The film industry is not glamorous. At least not from over here where I'm standing it's not.
Oft asked question: Who's in it that's famous? See my heart sink.
Sure, I've brushed shoulders with famous people. But you avert your eyes and do your job.
(I broke this rule once only: on the last day of a film, I told the wonderfully deadpan Bob Newhart how much he had made me laugh as a teenager. He's a lovely and gracious man.)

I have crossed paths with many glamorous people. (It doesn't brush off.) I've ironed countless sheets for these people, I've fluffed their pillows, polished their shoes and taken up their hems. I've cooked for some famous people too -
which brings me to my next point. The film industry in South Africa used to be known for it's extremely delicious on-set lunches. That has changed dramatically in the last few years. It's very dispiriting - after hours of slog, to be greeted by chafing dishes of steaming grey meat, wilted salads, the vegetarian option of mushrooms and patty pans adrift in brown water. Five litres of melted ice-cream to follow.

Thankfully the majority of my work days are not spent on set. I drive and I search and I glean. Lunches are eaten on the hoof, leaning against my car in parking lots, sometimes while I'm driving.

What a treat to finally have a lunchbox from my friend Ammy's Food Maker Merchant in Observatory. I was tootling down Nelson Road when I spotted her tiny shop - a window in a wall, a yellow awning.

Let me explain: that is a cardboard container - completely recyclable. Those are arancini, which I last ate in Rome. They made me swoon - those crispy, melt-in-the-mouth balls of deep fried, tomato-ey risotto with mozzarella centres. Not a trace of oil. Alongside a zingy pesto - so green the herbs must have been growing still, mere minutes ago.
Grated beets and pears. Mustardy, vinegary chunks of potato. Pear and walnut salad. Roasted butternut with black beans and pepitas. The surprising little bursts of flavour - lemon rind, flecks of parsley and mint. Such a fine lunch I have not had in many a long moon.

What else can I say? Ammy offered a fork. I said I'd wait till home. Then I ate most of it before I started the car. I drove away with beet-stained, dill-infused fingers, sniffing them appreciatively at traffic lights. At home I licked the container.