Slouching towards Christmas
With the obligatory gift guide, and some year-end favourites.
As I get older, I’ve come to associate birthdays with melancholy/dread rather than the excitement of my childhood. On my most recent one, though, the blues were banished by an incredible food tour in Athens with Carolina Doriti and Culinary Backstreets. Among the bounty: tasting an intoxicating array of honeys; the sights and smells of wild herbs; meltingly tender sea bream at the municipal market; the best, creamiest feta (and other cheeses); coal-kissed souvlaki; Greek coffee in a cafe; mouthfuls of phyllo-shrouded pies. Carolina gamely agreed to be interviewed by me on TONGUES about her stunning cookbook, Salt of the Earth — which offers the perfect opportunity to indulge in my newfound obsession with Greece’s storied foodways in general (and wild oregano in particular).
Seems like everyone’s doing a “gift guide” these days1. If you’re feeling flush, here are three nonprofit initiatives in South Africa doing sterling work — and highly deserving of your Yuletide munificence:
While I’m still a card-carrying Claire Keegan super-fan, the book I loved reading the most this year (and basically want everyone else to read/love too!) is Arinze Ifeakandu’s story collection God’s Children Are Little Broken Things. Damon Galgut’s blurb articulates my feelings about the book probably better than I could myself: “A beautiful, significant debut. Although he writes about queer lives and loves in Nigeria, Arinze Ifeakandu's voice is sensually alert to the human and universal in every situation. These quietly transgressive stories are the work of a brilliant new talent.”
After seeing (and loving) the film adaptation of Fairlyand at Frameline earlier this year, I’m now listening to the audiobook narrated by the memoir’s author, Alysia Abbot Fascinating, moving, gorgeous. Watching the restored, digitised edition of Buddies last week seemed apposite (coming out in 1985, this was apparently the first ever film to “deal with” Aids). Low-budget, but packing a haunting emotional punch.
After watching the first episode of Slow Horses, I was struggling to see what the fuss was all about. Should I stick with it? Loved the period details of Deutschland 83, but the preposterously farfetched plotting got the better of me. The Portuguese period spy drama, Glória, is a class act — and a reminder that (very) occasionally Netflix is actually capable of serving up stuff that isn’t unadulterated schlock.
Wishing you a safe, peaceful and tasty festive season. See you in 2024!