I’ve been told quite a bit lately, that I’m wound tighter than Shirley Temple’s ringlets.
Mainly, from my husband, but sadly, I would also have to agree.
I’ve been somewhat of a stress head.
I’m unfortunately prone to irrational outbursts…
Case in point; Yesterday when our cockatiel bird son ‘Larry’ wouldn’t go back into his cage and was instead zooming through my hallways looking for new places to drop his rectal bombs, I was getting myself so worked up, the consideration of actually opening the door and letting him fly to his (cat or element related) death, briefly crossed my mind.
Anyway, later on last night, after discussing the possibility of going away with a couple of friends who were over for dinner, I promptly realized all too quickly what my major issue lately is…
I need a Holiday.
I really, really need a holiday.
Maybe it’s the ex-travel agent in me… or maybe it’s just because, for as long as I can remember, Cory and I have always been planning our next trip.
In any case, my husband is without a doubt, my favourite person to travel with. We always have fun, we always have adventures and a holiday with him, always sets me right.
My family is exactly the same.
We all love to travel.
I have two older sisters, and all three of us were married overseas.
At every wedding, we had plenty of guests to join us, because all of our friends love to travel too.
Each of our weddings was like a traveling circus, with drunken clowns, wild animals and ringleaders…
Each wedding has hilarious stories (all of which, I will tell you over time) that in some cases are so completely ridiculous and infamous, that they have actually become Urban Myths… Hoo-Har, I’m talking to you…
And, each wedding had food. Lots and lots of food, and lots of food related stories.
My sister Dyani was first.
She and her husband Mark, were married in Fiji.
Cory and I had only been with one another for just over a year, and this was our first overseas trip together.
I already knew my husband was ridiculous, and a lot of fun, but nothing could EVER prepare me for what he was about to subject me to.
What, you might ask, could he have done that was so bad… well friends, let me tell you a story…
We were in Fiji with about sixty other people.
All of us friends, and all of us wanting to have a good time.
Alcohol was flowing freely.
Children were still just a dream in our minds.
And, between the lot of us, there was not a care in the world.
Cory was having the time of his life, letting loose and getting to know everyone in my family and circle better.
He was the life of the party, and won ‘Best on Ground’ for the trip.
Yes, this is all very well, but one thing about my husband, is he loves making new friends.
He will talk to anyone and everyone.
Once he’s got a couple of beers under his belt, his reserved demeanour is a distant memory and he’ll be off, meeting new people and making plans.
Anyhoo, about midway through our trip, we were all out in the hotel nightclub.
On this evening, I’d had quite a few drinks, but decided to call it a night and go to bed around midnight, so I left Cory there to carry on and I returned to our room to sleep.
Waking up the next morning, I felt terribly worse for wear, and rolling over to wish Cory a good morning, all I could think about, was how much I wanted to lie by the pool with my sisters and girlfriends all day and drink cocktails out of coconuts.
But no, he’d made other plans…
Cory informed me, that he’d befriended the lounge singer and after having an in-depth discussion about Fijian cuisine, decided it was a momentous idea to pay this woman, to make us lunch in her village.
She asked for $60.00, so he insisted she take $100.00.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I love Fijian food, and ordinarily eating a meal cooked by someone in their home, especially overseas, is to me, an absolute treat.
But, I was terribly hungover, feeling entirely vomitus and there were alarm bells ringing in my ears which I couldn’t ignore.
I could’ve killed him, but I also could not, in good conscience stand her up, so off we set…
On the way to our Taxi, a giggling concierge yelled out from the front desk…
‘Heyyyyy Corryyyyy, don’t get locked out again… hahahaha!’
Yes, that’s a story for another time… it involves Kava, Cory and imaginary Cannibals.
So, we got into a taxi and after explaining to the driver our plans for the day, we made a deal for him to return in exactly 2 hours to collect us, and take us back to the resort.
Driving into the village, there were gorgeous children running from all directions, looking at us with wonder and absolute amusement.
We were directed to the right home, and in we went.
It was immediately obvious to me, that these were not wealthy people, and I was genuinely happy that Cory had been generous.
Our host for the afternoon, ‘Jenny’ greeted us warmly and ushered us into her lounge area, where we were directed to sit on the floor.
There was already an old man seated on the rug, flanking the Kava bowl, and when he smiled with his toothless grin (toothless, except for an odd, centralized ‘tusk’ that was the size of about 5 large teeth combined) and pulled back his sarong to reveal where he’d lost his leg from a run in with a cane train, I knew hilarity was sure to ensue.
Soon, heads were peering around corners, eagerly wanting to witness the strange Australians who were coming to lunch.
Jenny began to recite our menu for the day, and immediately, my fears subsided.
We were in for a treat, and any dangerous feelings I was harbouring for Cory, were now replaced with sheer gratitude.
She was making us a traditional Fijian Fish Curry.
There were going to be Mussels in a Coconut broth.
We were having fresh fruit, and yams and Fijian Asparagus.
My mouth was watering as I visualized the delicious spread that was soon entering my life.
I was so excited, I wanted to dance.
But first, we have Kava.
We sat with the old man, he said very little, just smiled at us with that gigantic tooth. I loved that hilarious old man.
We drank some Kava, and I tried to be polite while I did so, as I absolutely despise the taste of it.
I liken it to a cross between, OMO and mud. In hindsight, it was the tastiest offering of the day…
Then, it was time for lunch.
Much to our horror, we were informed that it was Fijian custom for the guests to eat first, then the hosts would dine on the left overs.
And, in spite of our heartfelt pleading, this was non-negotiable, so Cory and I sat ourselves down in the designated eating area, and awaited our much anticipated meal.
The meal arrived… my heart sank.
It was also, immediately obvious to me, that although Jenny was a gun on the mike, she was coldblooded assassin in the kitchen, killing everything in her path.
The ‘Curry’ was a whole fish carcass, no meat and no edible qualities about his head, lying in a pool of grey juice with questionable floaties.
The Mussel’s, were in an equally suspect broth, and when I tried to chew one, it was so tough, I wondered if she had in fact swapped my mussels, for rubber circles cut out of a discarded bicycle tyre.
The yams, were dry, the asparagus woefully overcooked.
I can’t actually remember another time in my life when I’ve so voraciously attacked a bowl of bananas, as they were the only inoffensive item lying in front of us.
I had been internally drooling while I awaited this feast, and now I was outwardly dying.
I collected myself immediately, and set about eating, what might have to be the most unappetizing meal I have ever been served.
Every bite was a challenge.
I can now relate to the contestants on Fear Factor when they have to eat fresh eyeballs.
In that moment, I’d happily trade for a fresh eyeball. In fact, I would’ve traded for an entire lambs head.
All I could think about was the distinct likelihood, of Cory and I being admitted to Hospital that evening.
I looked over at my now husband, and I was seriously shocked to see, that he seemed to be really enjoying the meal and was eating with pure gusto.
I wondered if it was just me, was I too fussy?
Or, maybe… he’s got serious mental retardation and I’d never picked up on it?
Later on, when we were discussing the events that transpired that day, Cory divulged that he was equally shocked whilst watching me eat, and felt the exact same way about me.
We were left feeling pleased enough with the thought, that if we were able to fool each other with our Oscar worthy performances, then Jenny would NEVER have known how we truly felt about her cooking.
Cory pleaded for more Kava, anything to wash down his meal, but much to his dismay, he was advised that once you start to eat, Kava time is finished.
Meanwhile, we were begging Jenny and her family to join us and take over.
We had a big breakfast, we said.
Oooh, our small Australian stomachs could not possibly handle another bite!
Satisfied that we had eaten enough, Jenny’s son swooped in, and finished off the diabolical meal.
We were then directed to a small mattress on the floor and told to lie down. It’s time to rest and sleep off the lunch.
Holy Mother of God.
Cory and I were frantically looking at each other, cursing and kicking ourselves for not getting the taxi sooner.
We lay together, huddled in a ball, while the entire family starting dancing about us, like a coven of witches around a full moon.
Jenny then put a song on the CD player, which they began singing together like some deranged choir, and after asking what the song was about, the answer was this…
‘It’s a beautiful song, it’s about a mother who loves her children, then she gets divorced and they have a terrible custody battle’…
WTF? I promise this is not a lie; I’m not clever enough to make that up.
Right about this time, we heard a horn honk.
Sweet Jesus, the taxi is here!
I felt like the hand of God had come down, and was lifting us from purgatory.
Cory and I spent most of the cab ride in absolute silence.
Occasionally, we’d glance over at each other with a knowing look.
But, it wasn’t until we arrived back at our room… that we finally spoke…
After we’d closed the door behind us, and latched the key, we looked over at each other and fell into such a maniacal fit of laughter that it lasted for an hour.
We then ordered room service, and I ate a bowl of Carbonara quicker than the Flash.
I wish I could say Cory learnt his lesson, but he didn’t.
For the rest of my natural life I will be at the mercy of his holiday hijinks.
We already have a lifetime of ridiculous stories, and I’m fairly certain, many more to come…
But until then, I can’t wait for my next trip away, to let down my hair and leave the stress of life behind.
For what good is a holiday, if it’s not truly memorable and what good is a husband, if they don’t make life interesting?
Note to everybody: This is an absolute work of Non-Fiction. I could never fantasize such a tall tale.
Names have been protected (because this family were truly gorgeous people) and you will never know where we were in Fiji, so don’t ask.
Also, please don’t let this story deter you, I am absolutely certain that most Fijians can cook, just not Jenny.
So now friends, in honour of what could quite possibly be the worst meal I will likely ever eat, please enjoy, my little spin on the easiest ‘Carbonara’ (and, I use the term very loosely) style pasta sauce known to man, my Prosciutto, Pea and Mint sauce.
Perfect for those times in life when you really need to replace something wretched with something tasty, and do it quickly.
I have also included the recipe for my Hand-cut Spinach Tagliatelle, just in case you’re inclined to make your own pasta too… Enjoy!