Indistinguishable Facts and Fictions

The horizon, what little I can see of it against the black outline of tree trunks and leaves, is salmon pink. Or coral. Oh, I don’t know; the color is hard to describe and hard to look away from. It’s gorgeous. Above the salmon pink band, the color fades to tan then, as my eyes move higher, to blue. I think the signs point to a clear sky when the sun peaks above the edge of the earth.

It’s too early for me to be thinking about having lunch in Bangkok, but that’s one of the things on my mind at the moment. I read an article on NPR’s website shortly after I woke up, around 4:30, about Raan Jay Fai, a seven-table street food restaurant in Bangkok. The article primed me for lunch; I’ll have to wait until 2 p.m. (local Bangkok time) to eat; even then, I may not get in. The line for available non-reserved seating starts early. Two young women from Austin, Texas stood in line beginning at 7:30 a.m. to get in the day they enjoyed (that is, raved about) the food.

I don’t have any plans to go to Bangkok, but I would love to eat Bangkok street food. I do have plans to go to Croatia, though, so I started checking online for places in Dubrovnik we might want to visit while on our own time. As expected, I found dozens of places that sound intriguing, but several of those are described as “fine dining” establishments, which I do not plan to visit. I found plenty of others, though, that sound appealing. For example, Ala Mizerija sounds like my kind of place. It’s not the sort of place one expects to find a full meal; instead, I think I’d be happy with the anchovies bruschetta, some “small fried fish,” and a glass of house white wine. Or red. Whichever they bring to the table. If I can’t go there, I’ll be happy with Dingdong Korean Restaurant. Or, I suspect, anyplace else.

Speaking of restaurants, I’ve come up with another pop-up restaurant concept. I call my imaginary place Impromptu. Its physical location will be wherever I happen to be when the freshest, highest-quality ingredients and the appropriate cooking tools and equipment are available to me. I’ll send an email alert to people who have signed up to be notified of Impromptu’s availability, notifying them of the general time-frame for the meal and the geographic area they will have to go if they opt to have lunch (or dinner). Once I get commitments in response, I’ll send the address and the specific serving time. The menu will depend on the available ingredients. Guests will not choose from a menu; rather, they will be served the menu I create. Not a great scene for picky eaters. But adventurous eaters will be in for a treat.

The locations for Impromptu are apt to be existing restaurants that close on Sundays and Mondays (like many around here do) or in venues that have large commercial kitchens, like some churches here do. (I’m thinking, specifically, of the Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church; I’ve been in that kitchen and I know it would work.) I suspect other churches have the facilities I’d need. And Coronado Center, too, has a kitchen, but I have not seen it. It seems wasteful to me for venues to go unused so much of the time (churches, especially). I think pop-up restaurants would be a great way to take advantage of their down-time. Not only for food service, either. Live performance space. Musical shows. Pop-up Third Places that provide comfortable, welcoming places to simply sit and enjoy coffee and tea and read the newspaper or work on jigsaw puzzles. I think I’ve gone off on a tangent, haven’t I?

Impromptu is not my first imaginary restaurant. No, I think the first one is The French Kangaroo, which is the name I’ve since given to our kitchen, wherever we happen to live.  And Cobra is what I call my idea for a multi-ethnic restaurant whose menu changes day-to-day, offering spicy dishes from around the world. There may be others. Some of my fictional characters, too, own restaurants, taverns, bars, and what have you. For example, Calypso Kneeblood is the proprietor of Fourth Estate Tavern in Struggles, Arkansas. And another character, Willem Svart, does not necessarily own (but might) yet frequents a place called Scrawl, which serves a mix of Scandinavian and South African cuisine in an environment designed to be a third place. Scrawl is a little like the Beehive gastropub in Hot Springs Village, but Scrawl is far edgier and has a more extensive menu that, if I were to write more about it, would change frequently. Scrawl might meld into Impromptu, if I were writing about it. Which, I guess, I am.

A French woman who now lives in the San Diego area, a woman I know only through the ether (Facebook and her blog, etc.), writes fiction that incorporates fine cuisine. Or, perhaps, it’s that she writes recipes for dishes I consider fine cuisine, then incorporates them into her fiction. No matter. My point is that others indulge their passion for food and fiction in ways that may not mirror my behavior but, at least, demonstrate that I’m not alone. She and I encourage one another and, I think, appreciate one another’s writing. I know I appreciate hers.

My fictional restaurants would not become part of a hyper-successful restaurant empire. They might be, at it were, a “flash in the pan” that flares and then dies out in an instant, only to be reborn in another form in another place. Like Calypso Kneeblood and his brothers or cousins or whatever relations they are to one another. Kneeblood’s brother, James, once opened a bar in old East Dallas. He called it The Third Place, an utterly unoriginal name for an utterly unoriginal place. James is the guy who had five oddly-named daughters by several different wives. His daughters were Phaelaysho, Rumour, Mexican, Inebria, and Lugubria. James disappeared from my fiction some time ago. I suspect one day he will be found in a jail cell in New Orleans, serving a two-year sentence for extensive destruction of private property. When he’s finally released, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he opens a bar and grill in a dying town in west Texas. If the places were bigger, Struggles, Arkansas and this as-yet-unnamed town in west Texas might be called sister cities. But “city” is far too grandiose a term for those places.


Returning now to reality, my cough seems to be improving since my doctor prescribed a diuretic and potassium. He thinks the cough could be the result of fluid retention, which might include fluid in and about my lungs. I hope the pills do the trick, though I’m not sure whether they are “fixing” the problem or simply eliminating the symptoms for the short term.

I visited another doctor yesterday (as I wrote about briefly yesterday afternoon). He spent about 45 seconds with me, after spending about 45 seconds reviewing my chart. He didn’t need to spend more time. He sent me on my way, suggesting I do not need to return. That’s good.

I’m tired of doctors, though I’m glad they’re available. Now, if I could just reach the point of not needing them, all would be right with the world.  But perhaps I need a different kind of doctor, like a psychiatrist. That’s a story too long to tell after having written so much fluff for so long.

If the sky cooperates, I may be able to sand a bit on my deck today and, if the stars align, begin painting. Hallelujah! But I’m not going to count my chickens just yet, lest I discover sticky, dried yolks all over the deck.

What do you get when you combine flavor with whimsy? Flimsy. I don’t know, it just came out. I could not help it. It’s as bad as it gets.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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