Thursday, October 18, 2007

Magicians who Lunch

I lunched with a friend today in one of my favourite cafes. Anyone who looks at the photograph below and knows Lewes will guess where I was. There is an exuberance about the place, part of which is given over to selling fresh produce and was today glowing with pumpkins, and the exuberance is also on the plates of food they serve. I had a plate of mixed salad. The white cone thing is something edible and crunchy. The bread is focaccia which, as I am staying off wheat for the moment, I passed on to my friend. It was a remarkable salad, particularly in the way it defied the laws of physics: however much I ate it didn't get any less, in fact I could swear that by the time the plate was removed there was actually more of it.



For dessert I had fresh berry Pavlova. This did seem to behave normally and though there were a few berries and an orange segment at the end, the Pavlova had quite gone.


One of the things we talked about over lunch was tarot. My friend, whose latte you can see just beyond the sprig of mint sticking out of the Pavlova, has many different decks and interesting things to say about some of the variations in symbolism. I once had a tarot reading where I was told that my special card ("significator", I think it's called) was apparently the Queen of Swords. When I asked why he said, "because you just are," and for some reason this seemed a good enough answer at the time - better than if he'd said something about sun sign, colour of hair etc. I am a bit ambivalent about swords. Whenever I do a "spread" - about once every few years, there always seem to be too many of them and I'd rather trade them for a few cups, especially ones that are full and running over with good things, like the exuberant salad plate (and health?). My friend tells me that the Queen of Swords is an impressive lady whose time will come. His special card is The Magician, who is creative with the stuff of life. And only now am I wondering whether he was the one responsible for the seemingly magic plate of salad.

13 comments:

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

It's odd, isn't it, how some salads just grow no matter how much you eat - and equally strange that pavlovas always disappear and you never really know where they went. On one hand a profusion cups on the other a total deficit of pentacles! ;-)

Thinks to self, why is it that meringue suddenly seems so appealing and it's only eight in the morning...

Reading the Signs said...

Vanilla, I think meringue is appealing almost any time anywhere - and this one was sublime.

Pentacles, yes - some of those too, please.

kyklops said...

Mmmm... that Pavlova made my mouth water...
;-)

fluttertongue said...

Wow, that food looks amazing. Mmm. Salads are a funny one. For example, having enjoyed an incredibly pleasant salad at a local restaurant I ordered one at ASK and was presented with a totally uninteresting lettuce and generously sliced cucumber concoction. Not, as the menu suggested, a main meal. Often I am saddened when I order something that looks exciting with, say, feta, and the whole thing is overwhelmed by onion.
If perchance you go in for grated carrot in a salad that is all well and good as long as it is not the principal ingredient. And anything bearing Caesar's name invariably gloops so unappetizingly it ought to be done away with from all reasonable eateries.
Amen.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Kyklops - and with perfect coffee to go with - yes, very good.

Fluttertongue, the salad was actually better than it looks here with lots of interesting things going on underneath that you can't see. There aren't many places I'd trust to do a decent salad. A well-made Caesar salad can be so good, and it's so easy to make. You'd think people could get it right.

Taffiny said...

why oh why does everyone seem so determined to make me ever so hungry, by showing all the good things they are eating, while I eat slop? (of course it is my own fault I end up eating slop...)

Salad and dessert, perfect. :)

hmm... haven't done anything tarot-ish in a long long time. I have a love deck somewhere in this house. I imagine a few swords could come in handy.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Taffiny - salad and dessert are indeed perfect, for the first gives permission for the second.

With swords, the ones you definitely don't want are numbers three and ten. Trust me, you just don't.

Kahless said...

I think I would skip the salad and go straight to the Pavlova !Looks scrumptious.

I did blurk into your blog from Moscow but unfotunately I was unable to comment for some reason.

I hope you are well my friend.

Reading the Signs said...

Kahless, you're back! it's good to know you've been blurking (and that is a good new word - don't know what it means but like the sound of it).

Re. Pavlova vs salad. If push came to shove and I had to choose between the two I like to think I would choose the salad. But my heart would be with the Pavlova.

Mandragora said...

How much it would please me to claim responsibility for the eternal salad on your plate. I now wonder if the same salad is constantly served to a new customer day after day and even if the establishment itself was created purely to give a home to and a purpose for the eternal salad.

The Pavlova was clearly more earthbound and subject to the constraints of linear time. Nonetheless it was an impressive pudding.

I see in the replies so far that only one brave soul has commented on the tarot. I think its one of those strange topics that either elicit an interested response or a hasty retreat from the topic. Oh and then there is the hysterical response. I quite like the fun though of coming out as a student of strange and esoteric practices. I spent last Saturday evening in a Spanish restaurant in Norwich trying to persuade my eldest sons girlfriend that linear time was a basic error of perception and that the past, the present and the future all exist in the same moment. She was polite in her response...

Reading the Signs said...

Well, Mandragora, I actually really like the thought of a small spell having been cast over the salad. It is perhaps a bit far-fetched to compare it to the loaves and fishes miracle, but it puts me in mind of that. And the salad being served up again and again puts me in mind of the novel by Ouspenssky (or the film Groundhog Day) where someone has to keep re-living a part of their life until they get it right. I think the Pavlova is a safer option. Not that I don't believe in the concept of Kairos. But sometimes Chronos is easier to digest.

Re. tarot - trouble is lots of people don't know much about it and it's one of those things that either draws you or not. Spent a while the other day with a friend, talking about the hermit, which came up in a reading for her. I picture them as doors, these images, through which one can choose to walk - or just take a peep.

Mandragora said...

My dear Queen of Swords, clearly one needs a capacity to ‘read the signs’ to be able to benefit from Tarot imagery. Perhaps I could liken their symbolism to cultural narratives in pictorial form and their method of communication depends on the willingness of the viewer to acknowledge and engage with these common cultural narratives? They have a naughty habit though of going to the heart of the matter and this can be alarming for some. I do like the Hermit archetype, oft feeling an affinity with this card. Methinks they could be usefully employed as catalysts for writing exercises.

As for things magickal then let’s be wild romanticists and take the ever renewing salad as another sign; this time of a fruitful encounter in the kind of space that facilitates creative conjunctions. Maybe this is the stuff of life anyway, those meetings that give birth to a little art. Remember it’s a straight choice between art and lies!

I award you a shining gold star for bringing Kairos to remembrance. Maybe the salad was a Kairos moment, when we are suddenly aware of a tangent travelling deep away from the linear time of Chronos, one of those Narnian doors which suddenly appear out of nowhere and beckon us to always go deeper.

Reading the Signs said...

Shining gold star is good, Mandragora. I would really like to build up a collection of them.

Yes, I have a couple of times used them in classes for exercises. But some people do, as you know, find them disturbing so I stopped doing that. I think you can have art and lies together - though it depends, I suppose, on how one defines lie.

Narnian doors, yes. They exist.

Re the salad: we'll have to go back there - see if it's still circulating.