Vale Aaron

In what I think were the small hours of the morning, a few weeks ago, after enjoying a beautiful meal at The Noise Bar, followed by a night of friendly drinking, I was to my happiness and surprise, offered unsought encouragement to get stuck into writing.

Aaron asked me what I thought of his cooking, and I had to confess it was awesome, although I never quite got to express things (it being the small hours) exactly how I’d wanted. As per normal, I thought I’d have more time. I thought I’d be able to come back to the conversation, perhaps on my next visit to Melbourne, when I could pick his brain more extensively to find out what made him tick as a chef.

He asked, in brief if I was “that writer”, which I downplayed to “aspiring writer, blogger really”; to which in a kind, yet no-nonsense fashion, he replied ‘”oh well, you’ve got a profile; use it!”

Very straightforwardly, my indulgent modesty was punctured by the mind of a fellow who very obviously intuited a practical sense of how life is lived. While I only met Aaron that one night, I feel I owe his memory a debt of words, I hope not presumptuously – as “That Writer”.

Sadly, Aaron’s life reached its end only this past weekend.

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Legendary television chef, restaurateur, and raconteur, the late Keith Floyd, explained during his filming tour of Spain, that he had a test for chefs in his kitchen; simply, he’d get them to fry him an egg.

Obviously, it wasn’t a test of technical skill, which the aspiring chef would have already had – it was a test of character. If the chef approached the task with contempt, considering it beneath them, Floyd would know. On the other hand, if they had an all-encompassing love of food, Floyd could taste it in their work, this being exactly what he sought.

I can’t get this notion out of my head, that if Floyd had asked this of Aaron, Aaron would have delivered gentle Mediterranean sun on a plate, taking Floyd’s imagination on a tour from Seville through to the island of Rhodes, absorbing every beautiful colour, taste and aroma along the way.

Floyd on Spain? Floyd on The Mediterranean? Floyd on Aaron.

I doubt I’m the only one to have ever inferred something of Aaron’s character from eating one of his meals, being as unambiguously made with love as they were. I also doubt that anyone making any such inference would have concluded much differently.

***

It’s only natural to find great sadness when a young person, especially one of talent and enthusiasm, leaves us altogether too soon. One week you find yourself wondering about their potential, and the next, while hopes for their future are still fresh in mind, they’re no longer here.

But there’s also fair consolation to be found, when a young one, so full of life, finishes their last chapter early. Many people for whatever reason, simply aren’t capable of expressing the level of passion Aaron exuded, and many more never will. Some never even get to meet a single person who lives with such intensity.

Anyone who got to meet Aaron, or taste his food, if even like myself, only for a day, were lucky.

I respectfully envy those who knew him more, and who knew him well. I wish Aaron’s family and friends every needed condolence, while also feeling happy for them, knowing they must have been able be so very proud.

If I’m right about Aaron’s character, it’s the things that make his loss seem so great that could also give strength to persevere in this time of sadness. Aaron’s passion, his love of friends and his caring attitude, in memory, and continued in deed by those who loved him, could help people in getting though.

It’d also seem a fitting way of honouring the man’s memory, and I hope I’ve managed to do so to some extent, for Aaron’s memory, and for his loved ones, in writing this tribute.

~ “That Writer”

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Vegan yellow curry

introcurryWhile the intent wasn’t to make something vegan (rather just vegetarian), this would be the result of my gastronomic exploits one night during a recent weekend. The aim was to produce a curry (Indian or Thai), that I could whip up for both my meat-eating brother, and my vegetarian self, to share during a movie marathon (while leaving left-overs for the next few days).

I started at a base-notion, after asking a few friends on Facebook for inspiration, with the idea of a Massaman (aka Mussaman, aka Mosselman, aka Matsaman, etc.) curry. The lore goes that the Massaman curry started out as a curry cooked by Thai Muslims, originating in the 16th century, arising out of Persian influences.

(So this adapted version, I guess, is some kind of yellow infidel curry?)

Naturally, being vegetarian, shrimp paste and halal beef (or any halal meat) is off the menu for me, so further modification was needed in that respect at least. It’s worth mentioning at this point, in the mentioned Facebook discussion, I admitted a need, and was urged to try giving up on substituting meat all-together (more on this later).

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