Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular
column about her recommendations for a good read, and life as
she sees it ...
In the bay we love most, we have often seen a lady in a
headscarf and her husband herding their goats, then sit
watching the boats come in and out.
Every morning a little boat comes round with boys selling hot
and impossibly delicious bread from a woodfired oven.
The boys who sell the bread invited my darling to come and
have tea up at their farm. How could we resist?
We wanted to take a present and decided against a bottle of
wine in case they were strict Muslims and did not drink.
When we got to their farm, we discovered that their parents
are the couple who sit down at the beach with the goats and
not only are they quite conservative Muslims, but the father
is the Imam at the tiny mosque in a settlement of just 25
He and his three sons either have, or are studying for
university degrees and speak very good English.
They made us fresh plum juice and sage tea and told us about
life in this village where the only access is by boat. This
is life at its most rustic.
If everyone else in the world disappeared, these people would
be able to survive forever, living the way people have lived
here for millennia apart from having solar power for their
computer and cellphones.
They go to the market once a week for a bit of a social life
and to buy the few things they do not produce for themselves.
She makes rugs on a very primitive loom from the goat hair
and wool her husband spins on an equally primitive spindle.
It is hard to believe these beautifully made, intricate rugs
have come off such basic devices.
We invited them back to the boat for tea with us the next day
and I made sure all the booze and boobs were hidden away.
Unfortunately, the meltemi wind sprang up - it is a very
annoying swirly, gusty wind that chops up the sea and gusts
strongly enough to throw full and heavy bags of rubbish out
of the special rubbish net. It was the first time we had ever
seen a wave in this particular bay.
It was too rough for our new friends to come over to our boat
and after our conversation about it which involved a lot of
arm waving and pointless shouting, they started beating
something on the ground with big sticks.
Our very silly Spanish friend said they were furious about
not coming for tea, so we got out the binoculars and
discreetly (well, as discreetly as you can when you are only
50 metres away) watched their frenetic thrashing.
It turned out it was a fresh goatskin which they were curing,
not some anger management tactic.
The next day they turned up before I had a chance to remove
the evidence of our immoral ways - they had to climb up past
Kelly's very sexy lingerie hanging out to dry and I hoped Mrs
Imam had not heard of Fifty Shades of Grey which was
Luckily its sober cover gives no hint of the wickedness
Mrs Imam loved the Annabel Langbein cookbook and was agog at
the size of fish featured in it.
Her sons go fishing every day, several times a day, and they
always report to us when they have caught one - not very
often, and never very large.
We learnt all about the Haj - the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca
that they all hope to do in a lifetime.
In this province, everyone can apply for the ballot -
thousands apply for the 500 places, and even being the Imam
does not get you any sort of VIP priority.
We bought some baklava from the baklava boat to give them for
afternoon tea, and Mrs Imam politely told me it was very bad
baklava and would I like to come for a baklava making lesson
at her house?
I am so excited and just cannot wait to go and have a jolly
Oh, and a baklava lesson.
My lovely friend Jenny sent me an e-book Dearie, The
Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz.
I had already seen the movie about her, and loved it, but
this goes into so much more depth about this eccentric,
genius cooking whizz.
It is even more delicious reading about the exotic food when
we are eating so simply, and the author's explanation of the
changes in America's cooking (as in New Zealand) after World
War 2 is excellent.
It is as much a story about our world as it is about Julia
Child, but it is told through stories about this gawky
I had never heard about Bob Spitz, but apparently his
biography of The Beatles is equally good.
Oh dear, another one for the pile of must-reads.