shit on a stick and bubble and squeak with chilli. a recipe.
Tub. Big fellow, well overweight but all concrete. Also demented.
Surfing is pleasure, there is no doubting the value of this legacy. Surfing never sucks. So when you’re not surfing and doing something closely related to surfing then this too should be a pleasure. It is written.
This applies to cooking. Especially.
There’s four of you camped under the overhang at Emily Beach, just around the corner from a little ledge that has yet to appear on any surfsite-radar. LA times five. They should read this and weep.
The fire-pit brimmed with incandescent timber, the camp-site upwind under shelter, everyone sitting around on deckies drinking beer, smoking hooch, and talking softly. Day three does that to you, everyone gets quiet, and hungry.
Part of the event organisation is that one guy cooks and he gets to use whatever else everybody has brought in. This you have to lay out for him, nice and tidy, plus make sure the rum is topped up from time to time.
He’s telling us about Tub the mad bastard from up in the hills, at least he thinks that’s where he is now. Up there with the dog packs, living in the old gold mines. Cold up there in winter and too wet to burn wood that hasn’t been stored for a season. Lung fever.
This is after he takes two frypans and rubs a little butter-grease onto them; the spuds are done – peeled and boiled. Ditto peas, ditto carrots. They all get mashed together with pepper, this feed starts off as baby food. Bubble and squeak. Mashes it all up, cooking while he’s talking.
Tub was a bit of an outsider when the boys were boys, didn’t surf and was just too mental to have around as a regular so he got waved away plenty, yeah tub, sure tub, fuck off tub. Big blokes are supposed to be passive.
Slap the mixture into hot pans, really hot pans so you have to keep it moving, wiggle wiggle. We want the pancakes browned both sides.
Tub took to leaping off cliffs, abseiling, one minute we’re sitting under the overhang in the shade and WHUMPF ..! First his rope hits the ground, then the big unit comes whistling home in a face down rappel. Then he’d stand there a while before he yanked the rope down, then he’d bugger off down the beach laughing. Tub doing a drop in. This meant he wasn’t so dumb.
Both sides done now so he punches out the middles and puts the toads* in the hole, flips the cakes over a few more times. Some more butter in the pans, sizzle-up. The middle bits go to the cook so everybody stops talking and drinking and smoking and watches how it goes down. Dinner is special under black sky all punctured up so that the other light shines through all the holes. And a sea always murmurs at night.
He stopped doing that when he invented shit on a stick, because now he had a weapon. Handy lad our Tub.
We thought he was a fisherman at first, standing on the cliff-top up above the ledge, silhouetted up there with his ten foot cane rod. Nothing strange about that strange bastard trying to cast out to sea from a seventy-foot cliff face.
The little goofy foot was hit first. One minute he’s just sitting there, then he’s smacked over and into the water, then he’s up to the surface with a face full of blood. So everyone is looking down for a shark’s shadow when another ball streaks down and hits the water. Then another, and Tub’s laughing up there like a madman on a clifftop picking off his enemies with a ten-foot cane of bamboo and a load of almost hard clay-balls.
He was spiking them onto the bamboo tip and casting them out right into us, and the horrible big bastard had a good eye.
Chilli jam all over one side, then that side hard down onto the heat – this for the glaze. Calentado.
Eat with forks, out of the pans, and more to come.
He’s a lot older now and a couple of times a year he’ll show up at the Tabourie Inn Motel bar on a Saturday night if he can bring enough old iron down from the hills to sell to the tourists. Kettles and tin pots, bed heads and digging tools. The Chinamen left everything up there. A few small grave plots. Lung fever.
Tub says he’s looking after them, the graves, got a few flowers growing around in the autumn. He’s been up there for fifteen years.
*eggs, and thanks Tony F for the yarn