Dahlias also make me sad.
They will forever remind me of a dear late friend and fellow foodie Richard Ludbrook. Richard was a beautiful man. A real life rock and roll star who I met in 2006 just before my son was born. I had moved to Norfolk from London and only knew a few people. Richard and his beautiful wife Joey were Aussies from Melbourne living here in deepest rural Norfolk. They brought worldly wise happiness into my life during a difficult time. Richard and Joey both have incredible taste, not just in food, but travel, fabrics and music. They both loved to cook for each other, and showed much love through food, shopping for it, reading about it talking about. Great stories of Vietnam, of Singapore, Bali, India..Richard had travelled a lot in the 60's and 70's ...he had incredible stories of women, opiuim dens, musicians and food. He was one of the founders of Circus Oz and had an immense spirit of adventure.
Richard and Joey became very close friends, my best friends. It may have been his Beef rendang that sealed it. He was an impressive cook. He always chose the recipes I would never attempt. He was a wheelwright, an incredible carpenter by trade. His meticulous approach was beautiful and thorough and creative. Richard's cooking was just the same. I spent many happy Christmases with them, all foreigners to this land in some way. All enjoying each others excitement at beautiful and simple pleasures. They became my sons God parents or 'G Parents' as I like to call them. (I am not religious). Zebedee and I felt their love through food and laughter for five years.
He was very good at filthy jokes
Two years ago on the 24th of September Richard died. I loved him dearly, just like a Father in truth. I still love him. The space he has left behind is still so huge, and in many ways just increases, he was a rock and brought much stability and calmness and love of great food. I can't make a Vietnamese dish without thinking of him. Every time I open my spice cupboard I smell the tightly packed and heady stink of belachan emanating towards me I think of him. Hilariously he bought it for Yusuf as a Christmas present. It was the perfect gift, we totally got it. It makes the house smell of rotting flesh, but it tastes amazing, we get it.
Richard was also an amazing dancer
When Richard died, I decorated his wake with hundreds of dahlias. After the wake was over..he was a very popular man, hundreds of friends from all over the world came to mourn and celebrate his life...Yusuf and I did not know what to do with so many flowers. I took them in my car and decorated the grave with them, dotted around like bursting polka dots. It was his favourite flower too.
With each season there is something new to adjust to, a sign of change just like when you notice your child has grown up a little, there is excitement, tinged with sadness of what has also been lost and will never return. My house is full of dahlias as I type, I will keep buying them from the lady down the road until they are no more. And I will take some to my friends grave, maybe with some summer rolls as a picnic.