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Many moons ago I exhibited regularly in The Hague with a gallery that nestled within the emporium ‘Het Huis van Arkel’ owned by Martin Richard. He was certainly one of life’s ‘bon viveurs’. Possessing a definite taste for the delicious things in life alongside having a fine nose for his’tasting evenings’ and art preferences; when you stepped inside you were welcomed into a fantasy, a world of gorgeous, high end indulgence, beauty and music. It was a delight for the senses when you had stepped off the granite pavement into the warm lushness .
For the invited artists he was the perfect host fronting a series of wonderful ‘vernissages’ for my exhibitions. Outside of the shop Martin enjoyed going to watch the dance spectacles at the city theatre. The performances, choreographed by an international group of lithe creatures were always a delight as was the wonder of those beauties coming to help him with the wine, artwork and clients during the day. All of them were the subject of many intriguing stories. On a regular basis the local cafés from the Denneweg would send in smoked salmon, eggs and nibbles for Martin’s lunch as well as for the coterie there was always an impressive array of wine to be insistently swirled and discussed around the taste buds.
One year, Martin saw me putting up the ‘Pugilists, drawings in his gallery. A considerate although very particular man he insisted that he would have to have them immediately. Happy me. Happy him. He loved the fleshy, tattooed figures brimming with corpulent emotions and purpose! I had written an ode about these two ‘guerrieri pompose’ and copies of the verse were put behind the pictures when framed. As the shows and wine flowed by, as the customers and hangers on stepped through his gilded front door so the bigger secret was kept so very closely guarded. No one had a clue. He was a veritable ‘tragico guerriero’. The noble fashion lineage, the hirsute boyfriends, the pure bred dogs, the charitable causes, the art collection and good name in the town clouded the seemingly indefatigable waters of despair that he kept hidden.
Suffice to say, Martin decided to leave it all behind. I went up to the gallery at the end of 2011 to see post scattered by the front door. The elegant lady in the next door shoe shop was very kind when I enquired as to Martin’s whereabouts. Having asked if he was holidaying in Turkey again she told me he had gone to catch a train and with that the story of his suicide followed. Well he had certainly caught a train. To date no one is sure as to what made him take such a drastic step and his emporium has been recast as a new meeting place for those with palates of note. However, interestingly his art collection and art work store has disappeared. After much searching the black pit of silence pervades. Surprises always abound and perhaps one day the pugilists will turn up again with or without their secret ode to the folly of the painted facades. I certainly had a most interesting, fun and lucky time to have been able to work with Martin; pugilists or no guerrieri pompose.
Tucked away down a street where it feels as if time has stood still this Galerie Sans Titre presented itself as a shy box of jewels in the village of Rancon not far from Bellac. At about just over half an hour’s drive from the city of Limoges the old house of the artist Fred Yates stands next door to this super exhibition space tucked away in the middle of the Limousin countryside…. Lat. 46″7’48” Long 1″10’57”. I was invited to see a marvellous show of work by Debbie Waller expertly organised and curated by the gallery owner Rachel Sunman. The ‘vernissage’ was well attended notwithstanding the interest for the artwork but also for the magnificent canapes prepared by the artist.
Next month it’ll be my turn to turn on the heat and decorate this dream-like space with my oeuvres. Whilst keeping busy finishing the pictures and figuring out what to show the menu for those delicious nibbles is also requiring some efforts in the tasty skills section! It will certainly feel less dreamy as whilst writing this I mix the ultramarine blue for the final flourishes on the canvas and prepare to give a painting lesson tomorrow. Think an early night is on the cards.
A Donar Kebab, when offered, is a brief indulgence gratefully chomped through when on my travels. They’re not easy to track down at home and remind me of my youth for a brief moment. Yup, we all chase long lost delicious memories.
The pitta bread holding the delicious contents of the sliced spicy lamb complimented by the crispy fresh green and oniony salad plus seasoning begs my hands to bring it to my lips and bite! Munch, munch, lovely, I’m transported into a brief trance by the overflowing tastes coursing around the mouth, whipped around by my tongue and then yes, swallow. Another bite and the meat and sharp salad rarely disappoint. What a delight.
So how is it that this pleasure is so rare? Because so often the dammed pitta bread cannot possibly hold the overspilling heavenly tasty contents. Because when a pitta bread is wildly slashed, the sliced meat stabbed into the bottom of the doughy envelope and topped with far too much crunchy salad with a crowning dribble of samurai sauce the final effect is a delicious morass impenetrable to the polite diner. Guess what, you then need a polystyrene box to hold the by now gloopy contents. Bring on the burger and forget a meal reminiscent of magical warm lands bursting with history and mystery.
Last night’s fight to open the much anticipated box, brought in from somewhere near Earl’s Court was a small effort in the world of the bomb disposal team. Carefully balancing and peeling the box open to avoid spilling the beetroot coloured sauce splodged over a mass of salad and meat slices protruding from a sad, butchered and by now folded, soggy pitta bread was less than successful. The Kebab, the very much looked forward to much munch turned into my battle of the trough.
Only because I had the polystyrene box did I manage to pick and nibble through what could have been a thing of beauty. The bread couldn’t do it’s job and the sauce covered table, clothes and face with a pinkness not unlike my blusher. I don’t mind eating like a peasant from time to time, as they’d say, fingers, licking, dripping and wiping but there was no bucolic or desert charm to this.
Why not as the classic Cornish Pasty, employ and understand the pitta bread function as the envelope, plate and lunchbox.
Seems quite simple and on top of that, no more polystyrene junk, less overheads and more pleasure for the customer. A paper bag and napkin, ahhh. Yes it’s nice to see what the bread is going to offer as prize. A peek of salad and dribble of sauce promising the tasty sliced meat is enough. The on the hoof gourmet’s Open Sesame. The anticipation creates the appetite and the overflow of the inconsiderately stuffed-in pile does exactly the opposite.
A smidgen more care for the Kebab and dressing it elegantly and functionally so we can all taste the wonderful hot offering brings on the promise of more delicious spicy munchy love.