If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Jul 17, 2009

Field of Dreams

As a great blogger once said. It may be Mumbai in Marathi but its Bombay in English. Always. What we see in the map of Italy as Florence will always be Firenze to the Italians. And the people who live there are Forentines. Unless you’re an Italian in Goa. Where if you’re a Florentine , you’re in Saligao.
Head down the CHOGM road from Calangute towards Mapuca. On the left you pass houses with tile roofs, pigs in slumber for the night and 20 foot wide buses roaring down a 10 foot wide road, occasionally. You see a blot on the landscape called Cottage Industries or Cottage exposistion or some similarly named tourist trap. Next to it is a field. Next to it is a field. Full of cars and motorcycles. Somewhat eerie. Lots of vehicles. No people. Quiet. A Maruti Tourist taxi van emerges from the lane next to it. You had’nt even seen that there was a lane on this new moon night. Park in the field. Walk down the newly unveiled lane. Dirt track actually. You can feel the buzz and around the corner you see a ten cars and thirty bikes in a space meant for three. Bikes i.e. The parapet of the well on your left has a few Ronaldo and Beckham fans sipping beer. Their fan-ness being proclaimed by their T shirts. Green and yellow and blue and white against a backdrop of red laterite. The unfortunates, of which there are many who cannot find a slot on the parapet wall are condemnded to stand. And wait. Wait for a seat in this backwoods restaurant. Where the seating for the Beckhams and Ronaldinhos and Perpetua and Augustine is in front and to the right of you. Where tube lights wrapped in green and pink cellophane paper provide the mood lighting. Where music is not played because it gets in the way of conversation. While you stand near the well which happens to be just outside the kitchen. Platters of food pass in front of you. So near but yet so far. Don’t worry, as Aunty Aggie says” Hunger is the best sauce”.
People move out, satiated. You glare at the table in your field of vision.
For crying out loud, do you have to take such small bites of your bibinca.
The heavens part and you are called to the table. The menu runs to two pages. Ignore it. Order Chicken Cafreal. And poi. And Feni or Urak if it’s that time of the year. Yes Feni and Urak are proper nouns in my lexicon.
While you wait admire the plastic furniture, the fake flowers, the beer glo signs. Because once you taste the cafreal you will remember nothing else. The Feni comes first. Home stuff. Not that factory made stuff they sell in the wineshops or at the Fort Aguada. { The Fort Aguada bit is hearsay } . And then comes the cafreal slapped down with not even an iota of the respect it deserves. If you use a knife and a fork to eat it then leave now and never return. Chunkofy [ break into bite sized pieces] the poi. Dip it into the gravy and go straight to heaven. Where as the flavors become a part of you Lorna bursts into song, you property dispute with the neighbour pales into insignificance and your neighbours daughter who was a runners up for Miss Tivim asks you to dance with her. And that’s just the first bite.
Repeat order soon enough for the food and the beverage. There’s a family at the entrance glaring at you. Murder in their eyes when they hear the repeat order issued. “Damn Bombayites” you hear in angry undertones.
So in a spirit of charity you forsake the bibinca and call for the bill. The crowd at the well has gotten larger. Some of the parked bikes have been commandeered as waiting benches. The glasses perch nicely on the flat tank of the hero Honda. They tend to slide on a Bullet. But the Bullet seats are wider.
Back to the field. Home and back to your dreams which till just last night were real.

Disclaimer. :- My friend Jack[ who first took me to Florentines thus making himself eligible for canonization] tells me that the competition is trying to give Florentine a bad name by claiming that pork fat is used to cook the chicken. Of course the appropriate response to anyone who tries to malign the said restaurant with the aforementioned statement is “ Who Cares?”


Smiling Dolphin said...

you forgot to write about all the extra silver foil wrapped parcels you order to take back home to Bombay, which stink up the plane......

Dean said...

God (Deo)! I miss Saligao. I miss the church and sunday mass and black lace and talcum powder. And that crazy horn the paowala had on his cycle.

Love the blog Clement. You take me back to a time when life was wonderful in Bandra and we were young enough to enjoy all of it, but not old enough to realise what we had.

I'd love to see something on the characters that used to come to the houses or building grounds. They weren't beggars, they were old familiar friends. The old guy with his violin, the woman who'd sing "i went to see for my daaarlin, LAST saturday night!", the strange sounding man with his high pitched call, that I would always mistake for the kulfi guy and go running out, the graveyard guys.


seaferns said...

who cares = what i care = my farder wot going :-)

keep it coming, Mr Clem

The Cloudcutter said...

You should care about the pork fat. It's what would give the cafreal extra flavour methinks. Case in point? Authentic Chinese food! They fry EVERYTHING in pork fat.

And "thank you" for writing about Goa and Florentines on the exact same weekend that I'm pining for the homeland. You're like a drug pusher hiding in the bushes outside the Betty Ford clinic!

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh you need to go to Martins Corner at Betalbatimm. The same long wait for fabulous food - and they have music too. Go go go... Goa in the rains is to be experienced!

Saltwater Blues said...

The last time I went to Florentines which was about 15 years ago they had those metal chairs and tables. But the deep fried mussels and the cafrael and bread was mindblowing! Funny thing is I havent heard too many people talking about Florentines in recent times, which had me thinking maybe it's not the same as it used to be or something like that. Will give it a try when I'm there next week ... we stay at Candolim so its not too far.

desigirl said...

Yes my good friend Selina actually brought me chicken cafreal from Florentines while on a trip to Bombay! Love that place! Love the food! Good times!

Saltwater Blues said...

Clem my man - boro mure? Missing your posts. And I'm not the only one!

Gladson said...

Datz a real good one...I enjoyed it thoroughly...keep going mate !

David said...

Resurrect boy! Resurrect...

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Rash said...

Florentine! Used to be a family favourite. Thank you for reminding me :)

lindray said...

Ha ha like the part where you say ` you hear Lorna break into song` classic! lol

Amit M said...

Went there last week (on our annual trip to Goa). Had made it a point to visit Florentine after reading this blog post. The place seems to have tidied up a lot, looks like a full-fledged restaurant now. The cafreal was fab, Lorna didn't sing for me, but she certainly was practicing her scales! Thanks!