SARAH BUITENDACH: Eating out and dirty weekends: how Covid killed the fun
When will the confinement end? It’s a question I mulled over as I returned from another terribly exciting excursion to the kettle
You’re in a car. You’ve just passed eMalahleni. The music is cranked up and the sky has taken on the orange haze of a winter afternoon. You should be at the lodge by nightfall. You slide your hand down your partner’s leg. They’ve got that glint in their eye – the weekend is going to be killer.
[CUE NARRATORS VOICE: It wasn’t killer. You didn’t put your foot down. You weren’t allowed to leave the province, and so this daydream merely plays out while you sit at your computer. In your kitchen. Again.]
When will the confinement end? It’s a question I mulled over as I returned from another terribly exciting excursion to the kettle. In a bid for exoticism, I made Earl Grey instead of rooibos – and checked my phone en route. Life is all about the journey, not the destination, after all.
Right now, I’m having a wicked fantasy about going out for a few too many double Jamesons at a packed bar, flirting madly, bantering with everyone, laughing a lot – and then waking up the next morning with a deep level of red wine-induced regret.
Yes – at this point, I even want the regret.
Remember the days of meals in restaurants, where the waiters were slick; small, shared plates of exquisite morsels arrived frequently; and the wine bottle was bottomless? Remember stumbling into the freezing Joburg night air, piling into an Uber, and making for the bar down the road?
And imagine getting on a plane tonight: in the morning, you’re in London, walking along the Thames with a double espresso on your way to the Tate Modern. When, indeed, will it all return?
If you too feel a touch of melancholy for what we’ve lost, read this lovely piece by food writing god Jay Rayner. It is a love letter to restaurants, and how the mood and buzz of them keep us all going back again and again.
Rayner quotes Russell Norman, head of the UK’s terribly trendy Polpo group of restaurants: “The right restaurant atmosphere makes your heart beat a little faster. It makes you want to be in that room. It’s as important and significant a catalyst to appetite as any cocktail or bowl of olives.”
He paused. “It’s restaurant foreplay.”
Restaurants may now be opening up in SA, but it’s going to take ages to feel that sense of ease and abandon in our favourite eateries again.
The same goes for travel. Glance at this list of wonderful small, secret hotels to escape to across the globe, and your sob will escalate into an ugly cry. That list includes a castle in Italy’s Puglia, a trendy spot on the sea in Bodrum, Turkey, and a pink hacienda-style hotel in San Antonio, Mexico.
Or hop across to this round up in which famous types like Vogue editor Anna Wintour and model/actress Cara Delevingne detail where they’d feast right now if they could. Gelato in Brooklyn or seafood from a surf shack in Uruguay anyone?
And finally, just to tip you over the edge, peruse this article from the Financial Times’ How To Spend It magazine. It’s a showcase of the luxury vessels clipping through the summer waters of the northern hemisphere and other hedonistic seaside boltholes on the shoreline.
Heady weather, swimming for hours, unimaginably high thread counts and nothing to worry about. But will they have rooibos?
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