I was so ill, I could eat no food whatsoever for four days without quickly transferring it from the very temporary home that was my ravaged stomach into the bucket which by then had become my constant companion. I could not even bear the smell of scotch, let alone get one down my neck and have not touched a drop since so some good has come from all my suffering. I can’t see alcoholics getting such treatment on the NHS, though, unless they were admitted for something else and were infected by the food and hygiene standards.
Still, I am on my feet now (I am lighter on my feet by several kilos as well) and, unusually sober, can start considering the birthday party Marcia wants to throw for me on Saturday. Marcia has been planning this for a while but whenever she asked me anything at all about my preferences while I was in extremis, I hardly encouraged her. Who would I like to invite? No-one. What did I want to eat? I gagged at the thought. Did I want a cake? Marcia, please go away and die a thousand deaths…
With only a day to go it is really too late for me to invite anyone but I know that Nice Paul will come and Dominic will be here so that’ll do me. Marcia, though, has invited loads of people so the place will be humming. With a lot of mouths to feed Marcia and I decided that we needed plenty of Picanha (top sirloin cap) and Lombo (tenderloin). We decided that 20kgs of Picanha and 14 of Lombo would be about right. The Lombo we would barbecue whole, some of the Picanhas we could roast and slice thinly, others we would cut thick so they stand on their edges and grill Brazilian style with plenty of rock salt on the edges before searing the sides quickly and then butterfly cutting the slices open. We would also have plenty of sauce chasseur, sweet potatoes, grilled plantain, salads, coleslaw, beans in palm oil, funge, quisaca (a spinach made of pounded manioc leaves and peanuts), lobster salad, crabs etc. No one will leave hungry, that’s for sure.
|Picanha (Top Sirloin Cap or Coulotte)|
Last year, an international survey declared Luanda the most expensive city in the world. Clearly, then, this was an example. I wondered what the same quantity and type of meat would cost in UK, so I went on line and had a look. I was in for another shock. Had I bought that meat in UK from Smithfields, the bill would have come to $1472 (£920). Crickey! That’s only a hundred quid short of being double the price in Angola! How is that possible? UK has excellent worldwide communications and easy access to world markets, a huge and efficient transport and distribution infrastructure and loads of competitive retailers so how come Angola, with all its problems, can sell imported meat cheaper, nearly half the price they do in UK? I wonder what the wholesale price would have been in Brazil or Argentina…
By the way, I realise I do know the price of one other commodity, fuel. Petrol is 60 US cents a litre, about 37p. Diesel is 40 cents (25p a litre). SL cigarettes are $1 (62p), imported fags double that and whisky (Grants, White Horse, Famous Grouse) $12 (£7.50). Carlsberg beer is $1.25 (78p) for a 33cl bottle. These are retail prices. Wholesale you can knock a third off.
Since I am evidently in the mood, I nipped down the shop to check out the prices of some other staples. Bear in mind these are our shop prices so there is quite a mark up. Thai polished jasmine rice is $1.24 (78p) a kilo, bread is 30 cents (19p) a loaf, eggs are $4 (£2.50) per dozen, milk is $1.50 (93p) per litre, bottled mineral water is 83 cents (52p) per litre, 100% fruit juice litre $3.50 (£2.18), 250g coffee $3.50 (£2.18), sugar kilo $2 (£1.25), butter 250g $1.50 (93p), choc chip cookies 150g $1.50 (93p), tinned fruit salad 450g $2.50 (£1.56), flour kg $2.50 (£1.56), cooking oil litre $3 (£1.87) tinned tuna 185g $1.50 (93p). I have no idea how the grocery prices compare with UK and I can’t be buggered to look them up. I left UK over twenty years ago but I have a sneaking suspicion if I ever went back there I would be left slack jawed at the prices. Perhaps someone will post a comment and let me know how much a pint of decent bitter is.
Anyway, I no longer feel as aggrieved as I did when I first saw that meat invoice so I might actually enjoy eating it rather than choking on it while mentally working out how much each mouthful was costing me or, worse still, calculating just how much the scraps left on the plates would come to.
So tomorrow, I shall just be grateful I have made it to 53 and shall do my best to stack on all the kilos I just lost so if you turn up, keep your hands and feet away from my mouth and you should be OK.