Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beauty & Union Jacks

Yesterday Dave and I went to see "Beauty" ("Skoonheid"), a South African film I just happened to read about in the Evening Standard. It's about a middle-aged, married Afrikaaner who grows infatuated with a young man, the son of his old army buddy -- and of course it's really about the tyranny of the closet. The main character leads a painful, repressed life of illicit sexual liaisons, and when he predictably soothes the pain with alcohol he grows violent. In the movie's saddest scene, he silently watches two young, comfortably gay men kiss in a restaurant, and you know he's meditating on his own life of missed opportunity. It's a good movie, despite its dark themes and somewhat ambiguous resolution.

Then we happened to stroll past Jamie Oliver's restaurant Union Jacks, which he opened with chef Chris Bianco. It's in the bottom of Central St. Giles, architect Renzo Piano's colorful complex of buildings off Charing Cross Road (I took the photo above in January, which is why the tree is so bare). We popped in and got a table, and had some excellent wood-fired pizzas (mine: the "red ox," with oxtail, red leicester cheese, watercress and shaved horseradish) and a couple of pints. I liked the motto printed on the coasters: "God Hates Flags."

Today my Peace Corps friend Pam arrives to stay for a few nights on her way back from Spain to the United States. So we'll be seeing the sights, I'm sure! Dave's planning to cook up a risotto for her tonight -- he's hoping he'll be able to find ramps, which we learned are known as "wild garlic" in England.


Reya Mellicker said...

God hates flags. Oh man, that is so right.

Here's what I'm thinking - I'm remembering you on Murray Hill, eating canned soup and going to meetings of the board of your coop.

It was a good life, but whoa - might as well have been a past life, eh? I'm so happy you eat well, so happy Dave came into your life. Yes!

Gary said...

I just finished reading A Double Life by Norman Sunshine and Alan Shayne. Your post made me think that perhaps you might enjoy reading it too. (I feel like an ad).

Lynne said...

You are always like a breath of fresh air to read. Thank you for that, Steve.

Also thanks for reminding me how close the Afrikanns (?) language is to Dutch. When we visited South Africa in 1984 we had not yet lived in the Netherlands. It would have helped a great deal to know the Dutch language before going! So much shared history. I would love to go back. "Beauty" sounds like a movie I would like.

By the way, here in NJ they call they ramps too! I have never quite figured out how to cook them. They are one of the first things to arrive in our farmer's markets here.

37paddington said...

life is good. i'm glad. enjoy your friend.

Sharon said...

I had no idea that Chris Bianco had joined forces with Jamie Oliver at a restaurant there. His restaurant here (Phoenix) still serves up great pizza (after a two hour wait). Maybe he and Jamie could open a restaurant here. That would be fun.

Ms.M said...

Oh that is perfect "God Hates Flags" just perfect.

Ms. M