Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Donkey and the Running Ass

This might not come as a surprise to you from a guy who lists one of his interests as Eggs Benedict, but Donkey is pretty obsessed with food. Please understand that this has not been a life-long obsession, but rather a fairly recent phenomenon which has come about as a result of having lived in the Pacific for the last six or seven years. It’s possible that you may not have noticed this before, but it’s not often you pick up a copy of your standard Good Food Guide, and flick through to the special feature on Samoan, Solomon Islands, Fijian or Papua New Guinean restaurants!

So after lengthy periods living in the culinary wastelands of the islands, Donkey has developed a very healthy appetite for good food and fine wine. The recent move to India was a pleasant change for Mrs Donkey and I, as Indian food is truly one of life’s pleasures, however you CAN have too much of a good thing, and I reckon three times a day for four weeks was just about where that “too much” kicked in.

Not to be outdone when it comes to a good feed, however, Mrs Donkey and I searched high and low amongst the New Delhi restaurant scene in an effort to expand our gustatory horizons, sampling all sorts of international cuisine, from vegetarian lasagne, to Paad Thai noodles and Greek souvlaki, however every single dish in this whole city has the lingering after taste of curry! It appears there is some common superstition amongst Indian chefs that bad karma will revisit anyone who does not throw into the pot a handful of cardamom, coriander, turmeric and cumin!

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we continue to search high and low for wonderful, tasty morsels, and one day, while on her way to Market in the blistering midday heat, Mrs Donkey happened upon an exclusive French delicatessen, and fell in love with the delightful little sausages in the window. She forked over the small fortune for the meaty treats and proceeded to Market, eventually bringing home the little parcels of joy and placing them lovingly in the freezer, just as the electricity came back on after the third power-cut that day.

Once satisfied that her charges were tucked cosily into their chilly beds, Mrs Donkey and I resumed our planning for our much anticipated trip to Singapore, where, in a week hence, we planned to gastronomically plunder that rogue port to within an inch of its Six-Course-Banquets-with-cointreau-and-chocolate-soufflet-for-desert-and-an-extra-scoop-of-cream-please! This had been something we’d been looking forward to for months; a chance to sample fine seafood at a hawker market, stick our snouts in the trough of a massive breakfast buffet in a swanky hotel and of course, guzzle gallons of Ben and Jerry’s, “Eeei Haw, Eeei Haw!” Donkey heaven!

The week passed, and our fluffy maws were drooling with anticipation! The night before our departure, it was Mrs Donkey’s turn to cook, and she outdid herself with her favourite, Bangers and Mash a la Francais! Mmmm … a taste of fine things to come!

By the time we hit the tarmac in Singapore, the one-and-only toilet on Air Sahara Flight 211 had been blocked for four hours thanks to the combined attentions of Mr and Mrs Donkey. The toilets at Changi Airport succumbed to a similar fate moments after we reached the terminal, but we thankfully managed to survive the taxi ride to the house of our friend, Rob, where, for the next four days, his spare bathroom underwent a mysterious transformation from sparkly-clean to an oozing, fetid funk thanks to a couple of Donkeys playing tag-team on a more or less full-time basis.

After a couple of false starts on Day One, which saw Donkey attempt journeys of increasing distance away from home-base, only to stampede back to the porcelain, screaming in pain, we both eventually downed enough pharmaceutical cement to get on a train and hit the breakfast buffets – don’t think we were going to let a little issue like acute giardia get in the way of our culinary plans!

The first couple of courses went OK, punctuated as they were with the odd visit to what surely must have been Singapore’s finest toilets, however we had not counted on the razor-sharp wit of our friend Rob who was in fine form, and had us in stitches as he pointed out his intimate knowledge of many of our fellow diners. It all came to a head … or tail (sorry, that was really terrible!) as we were leaving the restaurant, when a particularly choice remark from Rob left me in the rather compromising position of having to shed an inner layer!

Minutes later, all cleaned-up, and trying to look confident as I strode through the immaculate interior of the Oriental Hotel, the desert buffet decided to get me back for eating too many waffles and ice cream (I had to, it was an expensive buffet … and I was on holidays … mind you, I probably could have done without that extra coffee). Now I ask you, is there anything more degrading than waltzing through the lobby of one of Singapore’s most exclusive lodgings, sans underpants, and just as you walk through the beautifully polished door that is being held open for you by an equally polished doorman, you finally achieve enlightenment on the question that’s always eluded you and your kind … why do we wear underpants?

The answer to the first part of the question is … No!
And the second? Safety in Numbers!

The next three days were horrible, for the Donkeys, for Rob and for the Singapore Health Authorities. But the person for whom it was most horrible was Rob’s poor maid. Despite her going into trauma-induced coma, Singapore had managed to survive a plundering from a couple of marauding Donkeys thanks both to the questionable food preparatory skills of a French butcher, and the erratic daily performance of the New Delhi electricity board. But be warned Singapore, the Donkeys will be back, I swear it! And when we get there, look out Desert Bar, Donkey’s comin’ to dinner!

Rob, nice and happy before the rot set in. Photo: Sally


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J said...

Oh you poor things!
It's a real pity that your trip to Singapore was marred by a few dirty French sausages.