Make love not pasta

The trouble with pasta is, it’s bloating.  I think it’s the starch and the carbohydrates and probably Guido’s over generous portion of sauce.  If you’re an elite athlete who wants to run a marathon within twentyfour hours, fine.  However, if you’re a regular person up for sex straight after eating then you may have a problem.  If you’re anything like me then ravioli will make you wilt.  Maybe my metabolism’s weird. But there’s a story that, in old Naples, prostitutes used to eat copious amounts of spaghetti before a ship full of hungry foreign sailors arrived in port.  I’ve never slept with a sailor but if I’d been cooped up onboard for eight months with a bunch of hairy seamen, getting my fork into a penne arrabiata would be absolutely the last thing running through my head.

Guido is immune to this glutenous phenomenon.  He could eat a macaroni cheese and then stand on his head without burping.  He could have a full portion carbonara and still let all his bits happily hang out with no obvious trouble.  Meanwhile there I am, after supper, like Fatty Arbuckle, woefully trying to suck every inch of me back in.  I’m sorry to have to tell you the following.  The two of us actually ate cannelloni in bed last week.   Then right after we had sex.  How unedifying is that? And I’m even more sorry to have to tell you that as I was laying there all I could think about was one thing.  It wasn’t Guido. It was fast-acting Gaviscon.  

If you too suffer from this unfortunate affliction then I am relieved to now tell you that help may be at hand.   I’ve discovered there is one pasta dish Guido can cook which I can stomach, then happily remove my clothes for.  It’s a terrific chilli linguine.  It’s definitely a stimulant.  Honestly, last night I took one mouthful and I was like Neanderthal Man with a thick club.  I couldn’t wait to pull back the sheets and role-play The Dark Ages. 

“You should seriously think about telling people about the effect of this stuff.  At the very least please put a sign in the café window to tell everyone it exists,” I said with not one hint of indigestion.  “Something subtle like – Come in! Now serving culinary Viagra!

As I’ve already discovered to my cost on this blog, a chef is like a magician and his recipes are the secret to the magic trick.  Reveal how they work and it’s generally considered treachery.  Unless of course you happen to be Nigella Lawson and you’ve a new book to promote and a house in Chelsea to pay for.

“It’s a kind thought.  But if you ever divulge my chilli linguine recipe to anyone I may have to kill you,” said Guido.  I must say, it’s such a shame because I’m the sort of person who does like to spread breaking news to my blogger friends.  Even if it does put my life at risk.

Boil a large pan of salted water and cook the linguine as instructed on the packet.  Once al dente, drain and add a glug of garlic pressed olive oil, one crushed fresh clove of garlic and two teaspoons of dried chilli flakes.  Stir well.  Serve topped with shavings of Grana Pandano cheese.  Then, have sex immediately.  

Nuts in London

There are cat people and there are dog people.   I’ve been asked which I love more and I have to say my reply depends on who’s doing the asking.  So, I usually just say I have this weird thing about hedgehogs.  It’s not the most convincing answer when you happen to live in built-up Bermondsey.  If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  

To maintain neighbourly relations I tell the lady who walks her toy poodle to our café every day that I am a dog person.  She’s called Gloria. She has a polkadot ribbon in her hair and wears a little coat and a little scarf. She’s about 100 years old.  I sometimes pat her on the head.  Every few yards she squats and cocks her left leg and I’m not talking about the poodle.  Then when Bethany, who lives in the loft next door, shows me Polaroids of her oversized pussy I can’t help but tell her I’m definitely a cat person. Who’s to know?

When I was a kid I never owned a pet on account of the fact that my mother was like Cruella De Vil whenever she was around animals.  She’d have cut a pair of gloves out of a hamster given half the chance.  Then when I met Guido he told me he was allergic to sheep (I didn’t ask how he knew) so we haven’t gone down the domestic pet route for obvious reasons.  Well, two weeks ago I was sitting on a bench just outside Tate Modern when I heard this strange rustling noise in the birch trees above me and I saw these two grey squirrels swinging up there.  So I fed them some crusts from my hummus sandwich.  Then the next day I went back and threw some brioche crumbs at them and then the next day I swear they were looking out for me so I left a trail of macadamia nut.  They went totally berserk.  Since then I’ve practically become the all new Mary Poppins.  

Last Friday morning I snuck some mixed nuts and some crushed hazel nuts and some almonds from the café larder but I didn’t ask first.  When I say snuck what I really mean is – stole.  And apparently hell hath no fury like a chef with no nuts that’s all I’m saying.  Heard of “Watergate”?  Well this was “Nutgate” and in one jump I’d gone from Mary straight to Deep Throat.   Just to offer you a word of warning.  If you talk about squirrels in bed one night and then the next morning a whole bunch of nuts goes missing from your home, you are very likely to get busted. 

“Have you any idea what it’s like trying to serve a chocolate ice cream nut sundae to a customer, but with NO nuts?” said Guido.  So you get the whole picture, he was pointing his finger when he said that.  I think Guido’s ancestors may have participated in the Spanish Inquisition. 

I’m hoping for babies in Spring.  Little bushy tailed ones with pert ears and big buck teeth.  I’ll call them names like Scamp and Scruff and wave to them and look out for them.  But I’ll be buying my own nuts from now on.  I am pretty sure it’s what Mary would do.

Just kiss me

I do like to pucker up and lay one on Guido whenever I can.  I’m not at all fussy where.  It’s usually on his lips but sometimes I’ll make do with the top of his head or a cheek but whenever I kiss him on his earlobe apparently it makes him go all tingly.  Only not in a good way.  He says he has to wiggle his toes for a couple of minutes to counter-act the effect.  I know, he can be really very odd sometimes. 

When we first started dating I never paid much attention to Guido’s technique.  Being brutally honest, his lips weren’t my A Number 1 priority.  I had other pressing things on my mind; if you catch my drift.  However initial impressions were that he was definitely a Pecker.  You’ll know it.  Tight lipped, fast, in and out, tends to go straight for the kill.  It’s great as an ice breaker or you just want to show some affection but you’re a bit pressed for anything full-on or time consuming, like heavy petting.

Then, as time went on, we got to know each other orally.  Guido started this weird thing which I called the Butterfly.  It involved getting so close that eyelashes touched.  Then just before kissing lips, he’d blink very fast so that they fluttered like tiny wings. I’ll admit it was impressive for a guy like me who’d previously only ever blown one.  I’m guessing you have to be reasonably well endowed in the eyelash department to pull that one off and slightly nuts too.  Fortunately Guido is both. 

And I do think Winter is so great for the liberal application of lip balm, don’t you think? Lips get to slip and slop and slide together.  I have half a dozen flavours of the stuff in my bag at any one time.  I like to rotate so Guido never knows whether he’s going to get Betty Crocker Whipped Chocolate flavour or Green Wasabi.   I call that kiss the Lip Gloss.

But when it comes to kissing I have to tell you I’m actually very envious of that scene in the Spiderman movie.  It’s done so beautifully.  It’s the bit where he dangles athletically and kisses the girl from upside down.  So his top lip is stuck on her bottom lip and visa versa.  I’m making a mental note to finally try that one out at the weekend.  I really don’t care if it results in a sudden rush of blood to my head or excessive toe wiggling from either of us.  

Thankfully Guido’s never been big on tongues, especially in public.  The French can keep them.  The last time he kissed me in front of anyone was when he asked me to marry him.  That was  May 2015 and, readers please take note, still no date, no ceremony and no ring on my finger.  Just saying.  I call it the Proposal.  It was a once in a life-time kiss, in a restaurant on Bankside called The Real Greek.  It didn’t last that long but we got a round of applause all the same.  The management even threw in a free portion of baklava to celebrate.  As kisses go, I reckon they must have thought it was a pretty good one. 

Ready for bed

When Guido turns out the lights in our loft each night he strolls into the bedroom, takes all of his clothes off, and then leaps head first into bed.  I’m not saying I’m not thankful he’s jumping in it.  But, that’s it.  Job done.  It’s the sum total of his preparation.  I continually have to remind him to bolt the backdoor and floss.  

Our bed is a really strange place.  It’s up there with The Twighlight Zone.    If you got in the sack with us you’d realise what I meant.  There are unusual and unexplained forces at work.  I’m surprised Mulder and Scully haven’t popped up unexpectedly from under the sheets with a flashlight.   Although nowadays we do an awful lot of sleeping in our bed, we also do a whole bunch of stuff people might find odd.  Occasionally we have a fight in it. Normal.   We regularly do the crossword in it.  Normal.  We completed a 1000 piece jigsaw of Niagara Falls in it.  Verging on unusual.   And earlier this week we consumed an entire traybake of cannelloni in it.  Weird I know, but it felt right at the time.  So contrary to what you might think from any earlier posts we don’t actually have that much sex in it anymore.  That’s not to say we’re not doing it together elsewhere.  These days we just seem to reserve sex for the sofa or the rug or, if we’re feeling particularly adventurous, the top of the washer-drier during it’s final spin.  

A long time before I met Guido I had a relationship with a guy who was the complete opposite.  The only thing he’d do in bed was have sex.  Let’s just say he was very anal. Come to think of it I never actually saw him sleep in that bed. For all I know he’d probably hang from the clothes rail in his closet at night like some sort of fruit bat.   I wasn’t in love with him.   I was in lust with him.  He had a terrific body.  God knows what he saw in me.  Perhaps he was just relieved to meet a nymphomaniac who was willing to take the London Underground to Kensal Rise to have sex, though only do it in bed.  Sometimes when I visited him I’d start ripping my clothes off on the way up the stairs so I could get straight into his bed without any silly hold ups.  Like my knickers getting twisted, or awkward discussions about which way up he fancied having me on the mattress.  Then we would have sex and immediately after he’d call Pappa John’s Pizza home delivery service.  If my luck was in he’d pay for extra pepperoni. As you can see this was exactly the sort of behaviour which encouraged my fledgling interest in Italian sausage.

Now when I get ready for bed I put on woolly socks and a sweatshirt and a towelling dressing robe.  I’m guessing this is what happens the longer you’re in a loving relationship. It turns out that you start to put on more clothes to go to bed than you originally had on before you got started.  So, if on the off chance Guido does happen to get a bit amorous, unfortunately it’s a good ten minutes before I’m stripped and ready for action.  He’s been know to peak without me.  Which could be the story of my life but at least I get a good night’s sleep in my own bed.

Spot of trouble

Yesterday I got woken up in bed very early by a strange throbbing sensation.  It’s not what you’re thinking.  It was emanating from somewhere near the end of my nose and not in a good way.  It felt like my left nostril was tapping out an urgent message in Morse code to the world.  And let me tell you when I saw why, it seemed like only an SOS could do.  Dot, dot, Spot, dash, dash, Zit, dot, dot, Blemish, dot, we’re talking major Carbuncle here.  This had to be serious.  Things like this happen when you are 15 not 45.  And to top it all, I had an important meeting with a client at Noon.  I was on the verge of calling an ambulance.    

“Something very worrying has happened to the end my nose,” I said to Guido. He was in the café kitchen at the time methodically stirring pancake batter. I looked around.  “Do you have a bag I can put on my head?” 

“Oh, that’s just a spot,” he said squinting at me. He licked his thumb, “Don’t squeeze it, you’ll only make it worse.”  He started stirring again. He’s lucky I didn’t dunk him. 

I called my artist friend Elton on his mobile for moral support. 

“Houston, we have a problem,” I said,  “I’m having a Cyrano De Bergerac moment here.  It’s at least the size of Belgium.”

Elton was right in the middle of shooting his latest art installation movie which apparently involved a naked man standing erect on a plinth in Trafalgar Square.  He was being arrested by the Police when I phoned so unfortunately he didn’t have much time to chat.

“It’s just a spot, don’t squeeze it, you’ll only make it worse.”  I hung up to the sound of sirens. 

I called my mother.  It was now 11 o’clock in the morning.  She was playing Bridge and sipping a gin and tonic.  I could hear the ice in her glass clink. 

“It’s a spot dear, don’t squeeze it, you’ll only make it worse.”  I hung up. I blame her genes.

I got dressed and went to Super Drug where I found a whole aisle dedicated to treatments for Spots, Zits, Blemishes and Carbuncles.  They had pictures of  attractive and acne free young people on the packets.  None of them looked 45.  I bought a bottle of Clearasil (smells like rocket fuel), a Buff Puff (it’s really a Brillo Pad), and a small metal contraption called a Black Head Remover.  The latter looked like an instrument of torture and let me tell you, it brought tears to my eyes.  I wiped and I buffed and I squeezed and guess what?   They were right.  It made it made it a lot worse.   

By the time I got to the Landmark Hotel lobby for my meeting I’d dabbed some flesh coloured cover-up onto most of the left hand side of my head.  This would have toned beautifully if I happened to have orange coloured skin myself.  But, talk about heave a giant sigh of relief?  Yes, there was a God.  My client arrived and he had one of the biggest zits in the middle of his forehead I’ve ever seen.  Never mind Belgium, this could’ve swallowed most of Eastern Europe. 

So we bonded over skin conditions and a couple of croissants, and I got the assignment. 

I’d love to be 15 again.

Things not to talk about in public

Unless you want to have a heated debate, it’s probably best not to talk about politics or religion with anyone other than close friends.  I’ve discovered there’s also a third topic to avoid.  Pot-Roast.  No, really.

Guido repeatedly tells me that in the restaurant business there are no bad customers, there are only customers.  The customer is king.  They pay our bills.  Like the spiralling ones attached to the cost of our wedding.  The customer is always right.  Yes Guido.

Except, there’s a guy who comes into the café every lunchtime who I’d happily strangle.  He works in a gym around the corner.  He wears a track suit and a heart monitor on his bicep like he’s expecting to collapse on the spot.  He always orders Coleslaw Salad.  Here’s the rub.  The coleslaw has to be freshly squeezed.  And I don’t mean freshly squeezed in the kitchen earlier that morning, I mean freshly squeezed by the waiter into a bowl in front of him.  I am not making this up.   The café was packed today so I ended up sharing a booth with him.  One minute I was quietly licking a gherkin, then the next I was watching him surveying mayonnaise drip from raw cabbage as if his life depended on it.  It was like the polar ice cap melting in slow motion.

“I insist this is done on a daily basis,” he said.  “That way I know it’s absolutely fresh.” 

“Oh everything’s fresh here,” I said breezily.   

“Yeah, yeah, I hear you,” said Freshly Squeezed, “But. Duh, just take a look at that Specials Black Board.  Yuk, Casserole. That’s probably just chopped up bits of Sunday’s roast in gloopy tomato sauce.”  He obviously thought I was another customer.  As opposed to somebody who’s sleeping with the chef.  “The only casserole I’d ever eat would be a lean roasted beef fillet in a pot.” 

“Duh.  That wouldn’t be a casserole,” I said, “that would be a Post-Roast.” 

The words sort of slipped out from between my lips.  I couldn’t help myself.  Freshly Squeezed eyes narrowed horribly.  The next thing I knew he’d leapt up and was clapping his hands to attract everyone’s attention. 

“Ok listen up people,” he yelled, “who knows the difference between a Casserole and a Pot-Roast?”  The whole place looked at him like he was nuts.  Which clearly, he was.  He sat down again, “Philistines,” he said prodding his salad.  His heart monitor bleeped.  

I could see Guido staring disapprovingly at me from the kitchen.  Ominously he had a meat cleaver in his hand. My thoughts flipped to expensive wedding venues. 

“Actually,” I said, “come to think of it, you’re absolutely right.  My big mistake.  And God yeah, avoid that casserole like the plague.  I should know – I’m having regular sex with the chef who makes it.  Trust me.  You don’t know the half of what goes on in that kitchen.” 

I think the following recipe originated from the back of a Knorr packet.  Guido swears by it.  It definitely isn’t a casserole.

Guido’s Nothin’ To It Pot-Roast

Place a decent sized lean beef joint in a Le Creuset pot with a lid (Dutch Oven).  Add a large chopped onion, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a packet of dried French Onion soup, and half a bottle of red wine.  Roast in a medium hot oven for about 2 hours.  It tastes great with mashed potato and green beans.