Lunch Date

December 17, 2009 at 5:15 am (Uncategorized)

I had my freelance writer friends over for lunch yesterday; we’re the Christmas Party refugees of the publishing world, no office soiree for the sole trader, and so we’ve taken matters into our own hands. Ms. Food arrived bearing homemade fudge, bubbly, biscuits and dip, while 6 foot Ms. Travel swished through the door looking very va va voom in a fishtail dress, promptly disappearing into my kitchen to assemble a Banoffee (as in banana and toffee) pie, an English dessert suddenly doing the rounds of Sydney.

“I don’t understand how it can be English,” she mused, diligently soldering condensed milk to the bottom of my saucepan. “It’s hardly the banana capital of the world.”

“Maybe it’s the Jamaicans,” I suggested. “Plenty of bananas in Jamaica, and plenty of Jamaicans in the UK.”

“Hmmm…” Ms Travel said, her brow furrowing in concentration as she ground Oreo cookies using the mortar and pestle.

Then my Man Town writer friend L arrived, also looking very snazzy in the tres chic trousers she picked up during her recent Parisian trip. She was packing bubbles and Belgian chocolate – come right in! I introduced L to Ms F and T (or Fun and Trouble, if you will) – and Ms F and T to each other, come to think of it – this time last year, and we’ve all been catching up since. L, as you may recall, is the writer I tracked down after the Sydney Writers’ Festival workshop debacle.

“I told another friend I was catching up with my stalker today,” L said, settling into the courtyard. “And she said, ‘L, you’re just too good to people, that’s your problem, you’re even kind to the weirdos.'”

“I’m so glad I stalked you,” I said, filling her glass.

“Me too,” she said. “You’re much better than my last stalker!”

Last but not least we had a man in the mix, a very old, dear friend of mine, the one and only Panamaniac, who has relocated here from Panama via Washington DC. The Panamaniac used to edit the business section of La Prensa before accepting a diplomatic posting in DC; now life has brought him to Sydney and Man Town seemingly for our express benefit; Llew and I are thrilled. I’ve known the Panamaniac since 1989; we met at college in Canada and yes, he has seen me with a perm.

So we were five. Five very happy campers, plus one roundly derided Christmas tree that didn’t meet with Canadian L’s approval. In fact, she even took a photo of our Christmas tree so that she might better mock it later at home with her family. This from a woman whose last tree was the cat’s scratching post with a Texta tree drawn down the side. I mean, the nerve!

Anyway, tree ridicule aside (it’s real, and it’s very nice, and it’s not our fault the North Americans go completely over the top with those ceiling scrapers and fire hazards – this is Australia!), in case you’re wondering I made Jamie Oliver’s fish pie using snapper fillets, served with a monstrous green salad and sour dough. It’s surprisingly rich, but very tasty. After we finished all the bubbles, I cracked a French chablis because, well, it’s Christmas. It was bloody good, too. As was the Banoffee pie. All told, lunch was a five hour affair, and I’d like to see any office do it better, because these freelancers are doing it for themselves.



  1. kate4samh said,

    So, so jealous! And just desperate to see the tree!!

    • doctordi said,

      It’s really not that exciting. Not that EMBARRASSING, mind you, but not that exciting… just a nice understated tree.

  2. Pete said,

    Wow, that so beats our end-of-year lunch where I was trapped next to prune lady who was telling me about her daughter’s ADHD. Military lunches tend to make me think of the phrase “horror of humanity”. But yours sounds perfectly lovely and those freelancers are so damn enterprising.

    • doctordi said,

      ‘Horror of humanity’ made me burst out laughing, Pete, that is *not* what one wants out of a supposedly festive occasion!

  3. davidrochester said,

    That sounds absolutely fantastic. My idea of a good party always includes champagne and a fishtail dress. Although not necessarily in that order.

  4. Deb said,

    Truly, it was another delightful and delightfully long boozy freelancers’ lunch (TM) indeed and I’m so happy we’re on track toward making it an annual affair. You are definitely the hostess with the mostess! That snapper pie was to-die-for.

    And, you know, I’d offer to have the next one here but I can’t compete with the delights of chez DJ and a romantic ferry ride to get there and back. Nonetheless, I think you shall have to come to my abode for supper in the new year. With Woo!

    • jactaylor said,

      hell yeah. we rock. and that fish pie was insanely rich in the best possible way.

      also, *embarrassed cough*, just let me know if i owe you a saucepan. urm. sorry about that.

      blame the Jamaicans.

      • doctordi said,

        Saucepan is officially fooked. Not to worry – I’ve done worse!

    • doctordi said,

      No, no, I insist on hosting the Christmas shindig, I want to get me a cotton-pickin’ tradition, damn it, but feel free to claim another holiday and start cookin’! Easter’s not far away… And there’s always Christmas in July…

  5. charlotteotter said,

    Sounds like a lorra lorra fun. Wish I had me some freelance writing mates in Heidelberg for extra-mural entertainment.

    • doctordi said,

      Charlotte of the Berg, they’re out there somewhere, you just have to smoke ’em out!

  6. Lilian Nattel said,

    That is so much fun! I’m sure you had a wonderful time. I wish I could have been there!

    • doctordi said,

      Not as much as I wish you could’ve been there! That would be cool. You’re all on notice: this thing’s going down this time every year.

  7. Grad said,

    I feel as though I’ve missed a wonderful party. Had I been able to come (who needs an invite? I’m a gate crasher) I would have done my Ladybird Johnson impression (that always cracks everyone up – only I’m not sure how many people still remember Ladybird Johnson – so maybe not so funny anymore) and told everyone about Shorty’s tree (which I think tops yours). Last year it listed terribly to the left. She had picked up this gigantic tree stand meant, I’m certain, for a tree large enough for the Lincoln Center. Her little tree nestled down into the stand, and only the top half of it showed. This year the tree is listing alarmingly to the right, and the lights start at the top and end in the middle. She has one ornament hanging therefrom – but it IS bright red – so I guess that makes up for it. I have no idea what she’s done with the ornaments collected over the last 90 years. Oh, Shorty…only you.

    • doctordi said,

      I love Shorty. She’s my kind of Christmas decorator. My kind of lady in general. She makes me misty-eyed, your Shorty.

      And I know Ladybird, we go way back … She crops up in Katharine Graham’s terrific ‘Personal History’ (riveting), the book that is perhaps responsible for my unwavering belief that Slim is a cool name for a girl (as in Slim Granger).

  8. woo said,

    Our office party is tonight. I feel convinced it won’t be anywhere near as entertaining or delicious as yours sounds. However, the food’s free, so its all good, right? 🙂

    And you’re definitely on for a meeting via Deb in the New Year. I’m back on the 12th Jan. Unless BA goes on strike again.

  9. doctordi said,

    Blog world collides with real world: Woo knows Ms. Food/Fun! Yes, that’s one degree of separation. We’re going to *meet* – a freaky idea on the one hand that seems perfectly normal on the other. Inevitable, even.

    Woo, hope the party was awesome. You can come to ours next year too unless you decide we stink.

  10. litlove said,

    Sorry, sorry – we’ve had snow here, so the country’s ground to a halt, internet down for a DAY, no roads clear, chaos, etc. I’m still catching up. This party sounds wonderful fun, but I had no idea Banoffee pie was British. I thought it was an American invention. How funny – perhaps they think it’s Australian.

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