Saturday, 12 January 2008
When I was young, we'd all troop down to Dromana on Boxing Day. And there we'd stay for about a month. Mater Beige and all the aunties would take us to the beach, or to Rye Mini Golf if it rained, and Dad and all the uncles would spend the week in town, and come down on weekends. Dad would take the final two weeks off and I would be in heaven. I had my Daddy-O all to myself for two whole weeks.
He'd come to the beach with us, and sit under the orange and white striped beach umbrella, listening to the cricket on a portable "trannie" hung from one of the struts. He'd hang his watch next to it. He'd walk us up to the pier, where we'd jump off the stauntions into the water.
If we were very VERY good, at the end of the day, he'd swim us out to the sand bar. My brother and I would hang onto his shoulders and beg him to tell us when the water was over our heads. He made us feel so very brave.
One year we went out to sand bar, and discovered that hundreds.. actually thousands of sand crabs were running. He left us on the sand bar and returned to the beach. I can still remember how vulnerable I felt, all the way from shore, with my Daddy-O. he returned with our dinghy and a couple of sticks, and we spent the afternoon poking the sticks into the sand. The crabs would latch onto the sticks and we'd toss them into the dinghy. We collected several hundred and took them home and cooked them up in Grandma's old copper. We ate crab meat for about 2 week on EVERYTHING!
The last day of the holidays was filled with a sad nostalgia. There was cleaning up and packing away of the boogie boards, a final rinse of salt-hardened towels and shoes. I'd have to vacuum the car of its Summer's worth of sand, and we'd put the shells we'd collected in the garden wall next to the sun bleached ones of the previous year.
To this day, vacuuming out my car in July and finding sand in the cracks between the back seats reminds me of the smell of the vinyl interior of the 1970's model LTD.
One of the things that Dad would do was to cook The Last Supper. This consisted of anything that was 1/2 opened in the fridge, that he didn't want to take home. it always had cheese in it and it was always served on bread. No matter what was in it, it always tasted of seas salt and long afternoons. Of the squark of seagulls and the smell of seaweed. it tasted of a complete lack of responsibility and a childhood that would never end. It smelled of endless freedom and the peculiar taste that Pine Lime Splices have, when eaten on Dromana Beach.
It was the taste of the end of the holiday.
Apart from one memorable year which involved scrambled eggs, 1/2 a can of creamed sweet corn and some dodgy tomato paste it was, infact, quite tasty.
So this year, as I was cleaning up on our last day of the holidays, I remembered all those years of Last Suppers, and made one for my son. And told him this story. And told him that one day, I hoped he'd be cooking Last Suppers for his family and reminding them where they came from. And I told him, that no matter how old he was or what he put in them, they'd always taste the same.
Ron Manzie's End of Holidays Last Supper, 2008.
1/2 a can of McKenzie Braised Steak and Onions.
1/2 a bottle of Five Brothers Tomato, Eggplant and Basil pasta Sauce.
1 large field mushroom
1/2 a tub Chris' Tzatziki Lite.
1/2 tub unknown cashew nut and parmesan dip.
Some random spring onions.
2 rashers bacon
dregs of a small bottle of Provencale roasted capsicum mustard
unknown quantity (possibly 1/4 can) of red kidney beans.
Mix together on stove top until heated and mushies are cooked. Serve on toasted random slices of bread and top with grated "pizza cheese" or whatever variant of cheese you find left over. (there's always some!)
Eat sitting next to the clean and folded beach towels, while the sky is a cloudless blue and a gently breeze wafts in from the seashore. Think about your Dad without crying. Count your blessings.