Saturday, 1 June 2013

For Louisa May Alcott (1832 - 1888),

"Jo amused herself by examining the faces of the people who occupied the seat with them. On her left were two matrons, with massive foreheads and bonnets to match, discussing Women's Rights and making tatting. Beyond sat a pair of humble lovers, artlessly holding each other by the hand, a somber spinster eating peppermints out of a paper bag, and an old gentleman taking his preparatory nap behind a yellow bandanna."
     -- Little Women

I know very well the glories of people-watching. The overexcited kids! The first-date couples! The silly, silly hats!

But I feel a little sorry for Jo, watching the rather dull audience members as she waits for a public lecture to begin. If she wants quality people watching, a lecture is probably not the best place to go. You get some fantastic kooks at those things, but they are usually outnumbered by ordinary civilians.

No: the best places for people-watching are:

5) Farmer's markets in artsy-craftsy towns
4) Protests against pretty much anything
3) Public libraries after dark
2) Concerts given by washed-up 80s one-hit wonders
1) Sci-fi conventions (the more specific the con, the better)*

Special mention also goes to my apartment. I overlook a part of downtown Auckland that includes our transport hub, the site of our weekend market, and an ultra-hipstery string of restaurants. Among the excellent people I get to watch from home are the gentleman who wears industrial earmuffs everywhere, and the world's whitest busking rapper. (I'm serious about that. He looks like Anthony Michael Hall.)

Yes, the pickins' here are much better than Jo's peppermint-eating spinster. In fact, let's update Jo's scenario. I'm going to steal the mint concept, but revise the people-watching so that it's me consuming mintiness while starting creepily at people.

This is well-timed because there's a bunch of Vietnamese mint sitting in a vase on my kitchen bench.

A 'bouquet garni' is so much better than a 'bouquet flora-soon-to-wilt.'
There is also frozen banana and coconut milk, which is excellent because I keep meaning to try a
sinh tố - fancy name for a Vietnamese smoothie. This is not at all adventurous of me, since Vietnamese smoothies are basically the same thing as Kiwi smoothies, but often with coconut milk instead of cow's milk. I am so on board for that.

And as I drink my sinh tố, I shall look out the window. Like a creepy old lady in a Hitchcock film. Is that a sombrero-wearing lyre-player serenading a girl with a frog in her pocket? 

*Submit your additions in the comments.

Vietnamese Mint Smoothie

1 banana, frozen
1/2 C coconut milk
1/2 C water
3-4 leaves Vietnamese mint

Blend it all up. Blitz it. MasterChef this ain't. It will end up looking a little grey - that's just what coconut milk does. It still tastes good, I promise! 

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