A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Feast or Famine...

In his latest post, DCver commented on the spending pattern of the Portuguese at the end the month. I believe it is the same way worldwide. I am sure I can remember my mother taking us kids to our regular clothes shop to pay the outstanding debts and get us new garments at the end of each month.

When I was a student, the pattern was pretty much the same. My grant, which at the time was quite decent, filled my depleted bank account at the end of each month.
I always invited four or five friends for a sumptious meal.
I spent the afternoon at the supermarket filling my trolley with various delicacies and lots of wine.
Once home, I began preparing the feast which was invariably my favourite Algerian dishes of soup with lamb or chicken, chickpeas, coriander and mint, followed by my all-time number one tagine of lamb and meatballs in a cumin and coriander sauce, baked potatoes with garlic, tomato and rosemary. No room for dessert, just more wine!

This was the first meal after the grant arrived. The following day, I ate the remaining leftovers of the feast.

In week two, pasta came with all sorts of meaty and fishy sauces, such as Bolognese, Lasagne, Marinara, etc...

Week three, neither meat nor fish featured. The sauces were simply and cheaply flavoured with herbs or cheese. More pasta served to bulk up the dishes.

Week four, starvation set in! My diet then consisted of pasta with garlic butter or a scrambled egg if I could afford it, a risotto with a couple of olives and half a tin of tuna or just simply some mash.

This pattern was repeated month in, month out during my student years.

I completely forgot about it, until it began occurring at the restaurants.

We know now to make sure that extra staff are drafted in for the last Saturday of each month.
The arrival of the monthly pay packet just in time to replenish peoples' bank accounts gives rise to the welcome monthly feast!

I usually ask customers whether they were celebrating anything special and on a few occasions, the bold ones have unashamedly replied:
"It's the end of the month!"
Thanks, DC for inspiring this post!


Blogger tacit1 said...

Is that dish from your restaurant? Looks yummy....

2/12/05 3:42 PM  
Blogger DCveR said...

Now that you mention it, I usually prefer going to restaurants after the first two weeks of every month: easier to get a table.

2/12/05 5:50 PM  
Blogger isis said...

That's it Cream! I'm booking my ticket to Where-ever the Hell You Live, U.K."


2/12/05 6:13 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Tacit, that's the Lamb Tagine, my favourite Algerian dish, apart from Couscous. We do serve it at the restaurant.

DC, this weekend will be very busy for us. I usually only go out during the week or for Sunday lunch. A lot quieter!

Isis, I will post the recipe for this dish one day. Very simple!

2/12/05 6:20 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Great story. It reminds me of when I started university, and one of my room/flatmates was quite an accomplished cook as her dad had taught almost everything he knew (which was a lot). I learned to cook from her and a few key recipe books written in cartoon by James Barber. It was more a philosophy than a skill.

2/12/05 7:12 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

When I was a student, I didn't get a grant. My parents had to smuggle my university fees and $$ for my living expenses, out of Guyana to Jamaica. I was too conscious of this fact, how hard they worked to send me to university, so I was thrifty. I still find it hard to splurge on myself, though I will buy for others.

2/12/05 7:30 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Andrea, those university days! Ahhh... I really love them! Had a great time even if I starved for 15 days of the month!
I'll have to check out James Barber!

GG, Now I understand the Jamaican connection!
I think when you are brought up to be thrifty, you are always thrifty. And you do enjoy buying for others more than for yourself!
Not a bad thing at all!

2/12/05 7:46 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I like your idea of dessert! =)
I'm with Isis, I'm soo hungry after reading your blog.

2/12/05 7:47 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Penny, nowadays I like nothing more than a glass or two of red wine with a few slices of good cheeses and French bread.
I'm with you and Isis! I am hungry now!

2/12/05 8:04 PM  
Blogger Ale said...

oh man, i'm ready for a nice shiraz right now!!

2/12/05 9:07 PM  
Blogger cream said...

A busy evening at work. A fine Indian meal with 2 Budweisers.
And a beautiful |Medoc to finish the evening!
Ale, by the way, what time was it when you were ready for a shiraz?

2/12/05 10:24 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

i love that story, and i'm starving! That 1st dish sounds so amazing my mouth actually started watering!!! i love these tales of youth and food...

2/12/05 11:57 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Talking about food never fails to bring people together.
Another common subject is the weather but it doesn't have the same effect!

3/12/05 8:44 AM  

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