Hi, welcome to my e-book world.
Short ‘n’ Black – espresso reads is a series of three books; Libro uno (pictured), Libro Due and Libro Tre. I used the Italian word libro (book) as I felt it best suited the mood of coffee break reading. These books are a selection of some of my favourite short stories – some sad, some confronting and some downright Gothic. I love exploring the darker side of human nature.
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Just to whet your appetite here is a teaser…
I fold a crisp, white Irish linen napkin – starched relic of a more refined era – placing it beside my fine bone china plate and single setting of exquisitely delicate silver cutlery. My wine glass – vintage unknown – a solitary reminder of halcyon days. All around me is chaos but on my balcony in the warm Mediterranean breeze I have an island of tranquillity. I can indulge myself surrounded by these frail tokens of a more genteel life. I had rather lost this in my marriage to Michel, but now he is dead and I dine alone.
My meal this evening is not so different to last night or the night before. I prefer to spend what little money I have on fine wine whilst sacrificing somewhat on the food. Fine wine, rich cheeses and a little fruit are my only extravagances. The meat is not the best, but simmered slowly with wine, herbs, garlic and seasonal vegetables it becomes something more … more than the sum of its parts. Something a person with patience understands.
I begin my preparations early. The meat marinates while I make my way through the early morning sun to the markets. I breathe in the day, catching the aroma of freshly baked bread, coffee, and cigarette smoke.
The slow cooking process begins after I have enjoyed petit déjeuner – café au lait et pain au chocolat. Michel brought the best and the worst of Paris when he begged me to travel with him. The best being the appreciation of fine food and wine: patience and the art of preparation. The love affair with taste and texture. How to feast the eyes before feasting the belly and the joy of producing something magnificent from such meagre ingredients. He was a master. I have learned well. Even in death I still hear his voice.
“Non ma chérie, non – you ‘ave to geeve it time. Cooking ‘as to be like making love.”
Sadly Michel didn’t pay much attention to his own advice. I rarely benefited from his lovemaking though there were plenty who did. Please don’t misunderstand me – it wasn’t like that in the beginning – it was wild and fantastic. No slow cooking there.
Paris was a happy accident. A sweet, naive Irish girl, running away from everything and by chance falling into the company of a group of jazz musicians travelling to Paris to play with the great, ‘Michel’. So avant guarde – just Michel – no surname. No ties. I loved the frenetic dissonance his skills as a saxophonist brought to his music. If there were rules to break he’d break them. That’s what attracted me to him.
Michel with out a surname walked into my life, such a presence. “Take me or leave me, chérie – I don’t care.” When I tried to leave he followed, begged me to stay. I fell for the sweet talk, we married; things changed.
Now he’s dead and I indulge in eating alone at my beautifully prepared table for one. The setting sun casts a reddening glow across the sky and paints the sea indigo. I can now enjoy my meal.
I feast my eyes.
I inhale the tantalizing aromas of garlic, onion, oregano, bay leaf, tarragon and the richness of the wine.
I take my first mouthful of Michel and savour him in a way I never thought possible.