Dealing with trauma from online viewing, Chekhov’s Black Monk and Azerbaijano-Armenian (I know, I know) lamb meatballs.
The Black Monk! I went to the Pushkin House to watch a play, filmed in Moscow, based on the Chekhov short story. There weren’t many people there and we were on kind of school chairs watching a small pull-down screen. The volume wasn’t turned up loud enough and the actors came on, pretending to be someone else, you know how they do, and I was thinking, ugh. I’ll leave in the interval. But there wasn’t an interval and, by the end, I was weeping while Sergey Makovetskiy died mad in a hotel room on the way to Yalta. I love Russia for not doing happy endings, not trying to pretend that life turns out okay if you want it to enough, not pretending we all have the power or ability to be happy and well. I love the truth that Russia faces head on. The lonely agony. So…(meatballs soon).
Later, I was talking to a friend on Skype. She wondered how to deal with someone potentially traumatised by things she’d been asked to view online as part of a project. My friend didn’t feel qualified to be any kind of counsellor. I said; “Don’t worry about that. We’re not qualified to be mothers either.” Obviously, in some cases this is a disaster and some training might have been helpful, but, anyway, I was trying to say that counselling, and all the variants of talking cure, are really about listening. I emailed this to her after we’d spoken but then, while I was making the above meatballs, I went rushing back to add something. “Listening and bearing what you hear. It’s really important to be able to bear what you hear without needing to try to cure it, without trying offer a different perspective (especially the imagined motives of someone else) or somehow water it down to make them or yourself feel better.” Maybe that’s what’s hard about listening. The just listening and understanding and bearing without needing to do anything.
Then I made the most delicious meatballs ever. A mush of various recipes, just so, so good. Here! Try!
Minced lamb, prunes, coriander, parsley, onion, rice, chickpeas, cinammon stick, chicken stock, can of tomatoes and/or tomato puree. Egg.
Boil a cinammon stick and a can of chickpeas in chicken stock. Make sure, if it’s from cubes or whatever, that you use enough of the stuff for the amount of water. Not loads of water because it should be dense-ish by the end. I’m using a kosher chicken soup powder at the moment. It might be full of crap but it’s delicious. Put salt and pepper in and chopped chilli if you like, then a can of tomatoes and/or some tomato puree. Or not. It might be nice just in the broth too.
Make the meatballs – chop the onion and and prunes and mush into the lamb mince with your hands. Also chopped parsley, salt, pepper, egg and a handful or two or bastmati rice, raw. (Cooked rice would be fine too, I’m sure). Then make little meatballs and boil them for twenty minutes in your stock. This is the most delicious thing ever. I just had it with asparagus and pitta bread, but am sure it would be lovely with rice, pasta, baked potato, anything. Oh, wait. Chuck coriander on top. Quick.
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