Archive for October 7th, 2005

Big Deal

I certainly wasn’t holding my breath for the new Big Star album, and having given it a couple of listens I can now confirm that it’s a dud.

Feeds of Our Fathers

I do like a decent feed now and again.

In Ireland, there are still too many places that tend towards ‘all you can eat’-style stodge. The culture of stuffing oneself -where the only criterion of an enjoyable meal is being unable to move at the end of it – persists, and you often hear people talking of a ‘great big plate’ of this or that. I have often wondered what this view of one’s meals says about one’s view of money.

In Catalonia, a place perhaps more used to wealth than Ireland, food portions aspire towards delicate sufficiency.

Comparisons between styles of service is instructive. Perhaps contrary to expectations, service in Catalonia is unhurried, unrefined, tending towards inefficient, whereas in Irish restaurants, service maintains a high degree of cordiality and attentiveness, with lots of visible activity. Yet I find that the latter type of service induces an anxiety to shut up and eat.

It feels like the main difference can be described as follows: in Catalonia, you are there to enjoy a meal. In Ireland, you are there to get fed.

When the waiter in Barcelona asks you if you would like coffee, there is no hidden message. In Ireland, the offer of coffee still holds an implicit message that it’ll soon be time for you to fuck off. More mouths to feed, you understand.

Easyjet and the Eaterie

So I was having lunch in a Barcelona eating house last Sunday when a rather large family (large meaning numerous) from Belfast got seated in the table next to me.

The first thing they ordered, almost in unison, was butter for the bread rolls. One gentleman had even learned how to say mantequilla, albeit rhyming with Cilla. Then they ordered coffees.

The variety of the menu was quite impressive, even for Barcelona. They all ordered steak and chips, or chicken and chips, with another coffee, a couple of them ordering espressos. They used red wine vinegar for their chips.

Smoking between mouthfuls, one of the women wanted to show off a bargain she had got that morning. She removed the Beckham 23 Real Madrid T-Shirt from the bag and showed it to all at the table. In friendly jest, one of the waiters came up to her and wagged his finger gently, indicating that the establishment did not approve.

The woman looked at him, rather affronted, as if her human rights were being impeded.

Second Wind

I never really fell for the line, first time around, that Harvest Moon was a follow-up or a companion piece to Harvest. They don’t even sound that similar. Well, Harvest Moon sounds more like Harvest than it sounds like Weld or Rust Never Sleeps, but that’s not really saying much. At the time, it felt like a bit of a marketing ploy to persuade fans of ‘Heart of Gold’ to consider forking out for it.

So I wasn’t that convinced by the touting of Prairie Wind as the third part of the trilogy, especially since 2000’s Silver and Gold was an album that was nice and acoustic too.

But I went out and bought it anyway, ‘cos marketing and advertising works in mysterious ways.
Good thing I did – it’s a cracker. Despite some tinges of Harvest Moon’s rather cloying down-at-home sentimentality, the music is full of echoes of Buffalo Springfield, After The Gold Rush and Harvest itself, with vivid and suggestive lyrics, and arrangements recalling Jack Nitzsche.

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October 2005
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