Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Mushrooms,cigars and a french dream sequence
I was in a recording studio outside Paris the other side of the Bois de Bologne. The session was winding down late afternoon and our producer took to the market streets of Suresnes to buy ingredients for a special heady mix that was to prove to be a most unlikely and unexpected early evenings diversion.
He slowly idled his way from stall to stall touching and smelling and contemplating each variant of fungus before making his choice and finally letting the stall holder break down for the night.
The local Tabac was busy with local workers eyeing him suspiciously. The pungent smell of toasted tobacco filled the air and the chink of beer glasses could be heard in every corner of the room.
Once he decided which Cuban cigar and how many he thanked the bemused assistant and turned to the door looking at the night sky that reflected on the tanned walls with their ornate cornicing. He pulled up his scarf around his neck and took once more to the streets. It was winter but the night sky was clear and cold. You could see his breath in clouds in front of him and tiny tears appeared in the corner of his eyes with the sudden icy jolt.
He careered through the back lanes and burst into the church door slightly out of breath. All the years of sitting in front of the multi track console had taken its toll on him physically so he was genuinely wiped out by the exertion.
Once he composed himself he soon gathered an interested audience at the back of studio one whereupon a Calor gas stove suddenly appeared courtesy of 'petite puce' the house engineer. He slowly and meticulously peeled the garlic and with a small knife he cut it into tiny strips and into the pan with good glug of olive oil. Then he gently picked off a little outer skin on the mushrooms before easing them beside garlic that was already filling the room with sweet aroma.
We looked on intriqued and someone put on a Serge Gainsbourg track to accompany him as he tendered, pushed and turned the concoction. Not every day you cook up an appetiser in the control room.
He passed around a half dozen cigars and then with slight of hand he poured six cognac into tiny faded glasses with rose petals engraved on the side. We all lit up and were engulfed in the first expansive puffs that rose like plumes to the ceiling. Then we were ordered to 'taste and enjoy' the full experience.
So, cigar in hand and with oil dripping down the side of my mouth I hungrily chewed the mushroom with the delightful garlic now brown and exquisite,then I swigged my cognac before sucking hard on my tightly rolled bundle of dried tobacco.
Suddenly we all felt trippy. There was no mistaking the slight transcendental rush that made me question what was going on in the room. The walls came alive with the past memories that still swirled around the chamber. Figures were coming up to me, floating and dancing around me and I could just make out a beautiful frilled dress with a young Parisian girl with impossible smile, then a bespectacled gentleman complete with top hat laughing and rushing off across the room. There was a chaos of movement that then disappeared almost as quickly.
Later we stood together at the steps of the old church pulling heavy coats on and adjusting hats and scarfs to keep out the deepening cold. Then we were amazed to see a slow moving, black and shiny vehicle coming towards us. Winding slowly down the glittering cobbled streets twinkling with snow flakes that had started to fall. It was a 55 Thunderbird and its cool lines and sleak angles purred past us as if from a dream.
We walked into the night in silence.