You know the guy who said, “Child is the Father of Man”, probably did so after a game of marbles. Not that William Wordsworth was any ace at the game but it must have been something so simple and yet so enormously humbling.
Recently, I shot an episode on wine and beer with Arun Thapar. Sure the man is a walking tome on various subjects but none admittedly liquor-based.
He can light a set and set camera angles to actually prove that there was no ‘Hand of God’ assisting Maradonna.
He can shoot dialogues faster and smarter than a bevy of script-writers who are OD-ing on Red Bull
. But when it comes to wine, he will be the first to admit his sophomoric status.
He sure still knows a lot compared to the average bloke but it was perhaps this very humility that highlighted something very basic and yet very quintessential to me.
This was it: Wine should be way simpler than it mostly is.
I am a wine taster.
I try to less-obfuscate wine but I have never thought of simplifying wine to such an extent as we did during our day-and-a-half of shooting for this show which is article-lessly called “Spirit of Good Times”.
The two missing ‘Thes’ really drive me up the wall!
Less grammatically, Arun was a sheer delight. He was fun, he brought fun and he made it fun for everyone else.
I realised how much of a snob I too was earlier. Nothing that he suggested was blasé or uncomplimentary to wine as such but the thing is I had never thought of similar.
Sure, I have done wine cocktails and even indulged in wine cooking but it was the blatant simplicity that he brought the subject that impressed me.
I am soon starting a wine and beverage institute and shooting with Arun has given me a lot to think about.
That aside, I enjoyed the show. I sure hope you did too, or will when you see it. We did manage to drop the rituals and skip the ceremonies. After a couple of sips, it had only become easier.
My life is not exactly a tale to recount to grandchildren by the fireplace: the biggest thing I have done yet is to dream. More lately I have dreamt of amassing wealth beyond the dreams of avarice or at least my boastful circle of acquaintances and that fantasising in itself has kept me Prozac-like happy in my shell.
I don’t know whatever exactly happened to dreams of being a pilot and a fireman? Nobody really wants to be a money-making machine as a kid; oh no, our dreams are way more colourful as children.
But I do recall having an adolescent dream that involved food and experimentation. And that is perhaps what mostly has fuelled my quest for gastronomy and is responsible for my undying temptations to try and tackle the un-tasted, not to mention my expanding girth and ever-widening shadow.
Food is a satisfying pursuit: It refreshes, rejuvenates and relaxes. If you manage to eat the right kind, it also nourishes. Wine is something that makes food whole, that gives food meaning, form and definition.
Without wine, food is rather lacking in dimension and depth. If you wanted visuals it would be much like that scene from Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise goes back to reclaim his relationship.
You can almost imagine a luscious lamb chop telling a muscled magnum of a Bordeaux, “Shut up, you had me at hello…” Yes, I need to get out more.
So, to add to my initial thought, the biggest thing I have done so far is to dream, and eat and drink.
I have had food brought to life (PETA
, please excuse the sad and incidental pun) at the hands of some of the best names in the culinary world, I have tasted wines and whiskies and beers made in remote corners of the planet by people who just don’t care about Louis Vuitton
or the people who flaunt them and then I have seen things that always bring a smile to my face whenever my entire life flashes before my eyes.
That last one is not always good because it means that I have effectively smiled through earthquakes and minefields.
But, put like that, it doesn’t sound like much of a waste of a life, even though it might sound like one food-rich and alcohol-soaked “wasted” life.
I can live with that. My grand-children may not enjoy the stories as much but just narrating them would rekindle the tastes that I would have enjoyed and they would perhaps still make me drool.
To recount and reminisce about all someone could do and did do for a one square meal, five times a day!
Maybe I could tell them then how I always consider my greatest failure to be my inability to have found someone smarter than me. I may begin to sound batty then but don’t I already? And better yet, I could always claim senility as an excuse then.
But I am not done yet. My fork and knife are far from placed in that parallel position that symbolises the end of a meal.
Other people live their lives like the chapters of a book; mine would be more akin to the various courses of a meal. And I am far from dishing up mains.
So enjoy the starters while you ponder me this, “Are manners and etiquettes free-flow natural form for humans or just an attempt at moralistic suppression of our primal instincts?”