Mona's Meals | Sunday, 02 August 2009
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The name game

There’s a particular scene in Bruno that would be heartbreaking were it not so hilarious it is sickening (honestly: keep up!). Bruno - camper-than-a-row-of-tents fashionista, more colourful than a rainbow flag, Austrian to boot, and all other clichés rolled into a skin-tight pair of leather chaps - decides that one way he can “break into America” is by having a child. And if he is to “have a child”, considering he is male and single, then he must adopt. So he goes shopping in a “country called Africa”, much as he would normally pop into the Dover Street Market for some Issey Miyake.
Upon his return journey to the US of A, he waits at the airport baggage reclaim for the cardboard box he has punched full of air-vent holes to come shuffling out on the carousel. Then he lifts the lid and introduces its contents to the world: a black baby to whom he has given a “typical African name: OJ.”
If there is anything politically incorrect Bruno can do, he does it, and then some. Expect screams, entire outfits made from Velcro and talking male genitalia. Yet of course, the film is a parody of everything that does go on in Fashion/Rock Landia. Which is why he “buys” a black child: “like Madonna.”
“Doing a Madonna” is now a verb, as in “Jordan wants to do a Madonna.” The News of the World reported it thus, always, as per NOTW tradition, framing the circumstance in the most subtle way possible: “Instead of portraying an image of a doting mum, [Jordan] has been flashing her knickers on a shopping spree to a store called Trashy Lingerie.”
You have to laugh. I have friends who have adopted from far-flung countries and their children are of a different hue to them. The importance of this is zilch, yet they have not had a humour bypass: they can actually giggle at ridiculous stories like Bruno’s. Yet Jordan adopting a child, any colour child, is another story altogether - a sad one.
TW and I have everything packed to go to the “country called Africa”, or thereabouts. Bringing back a baby is not on the agenda. Food is: eating at Alain Ducasse’s Spoon des Illes and Vineet Bathia’s Safran, hunting for our own deer, and if we are allowed, slumming it on some beach, nibbling on prawns, crabs and each other’s toes. Ok, maybe not.
We’re getting there with Emirates (is there any other way that makes sense, pray, tell me) and I have promised myself not to get sloshed on their champagne this time ‘round. Since they only stock chic stuff on board (yes, Hello! can be called thus, considering that every single article is PR orchestrated and polished), I’ll buy the trash magazines before I check in. Best, Bella, Reveal, and three hundred other one-word titles: they’re all at it. Masculine tastes dictate that Jordan’s boobs are on the cover of Nuts. We ladies are more interested in what Jordan is doing as well as showing. There is nothing more fun than looking at pages of D-list celebs enduring yet another human tragedy: our lives feel fabulous by proxy.
Before and after Bruno, The Posse went to Hugo’s Tapas - Fusion Restaurant. The idea of fusion is as fashionable as a Primark skirt but fusing tapas strikes fear into my very being. Hugo Chetcuti is becoming a brand, something I am sure he has worked on for a long time. He is not yet a verb. He started it all with the sushi place up the road, and then continued the success story near the cinema. He changes cuisine but keeps the same formula: design-led surroundings, friendly staff, middle-of-the-road, inoffensive, ‘international’ food. It works.
On a Saturday night, Hugo’s was packed with the over-thirties. It’s a to-be-seen-in place, so people dress up. From where we were sitting, we spotted a pair of Louboutins. “Good position,” the GBF told me. “She’s sitting right by the balcony so that we can see the soles as soon as she crosses her feet.” I was wearing Alexander McQueen’s: nobody noticed except the GBF who told me he wanted to wear them and wondered if he could walk on five inch heels.
We spotted a pair of triple-breasted local ‘TV stars’. We giggled, hid our mouth behind our hands and told The Traveller, who is British, who they were. Unsurprisingly, she did not recognise them. Apart from us, hardly any Maltese did, let alone.
The cocktails at Hugo’s are so classic they’re boring, and sometimes louche. Does anybody ask for ‘Sex on the Beach’ any more? Does it sell to anybody who has, actually, had sex on the beach, albeit quite a few years ago? (Ahem!) Do people not mind asking for a ‘Slippery Nipple’, especially if they’re female and not a lezzie? “Eee heee heee heee slippery nipple hi!” Yet the drinks turn up on time and are quite decently constructed.
The most surprising thing about Hugo’s Tapas is not the fact that the food is as far from real tapas (called so because originally they were ‘lids’ for bottles) as Malta is from New Zealand, but that it is really decently-priced. On average, items cost around €8. That’s not bad for Paceville. Moreover, the choice is extensive, if not exciting.
The German Rolex Man had shrimps in some kind of tomato spicy sauce. He had joined us on a whim after he updated his Facebook status update to ask if anybody was going along to the preview. “Was it good?” I asked. “Not bad,” he replied, in that way which you know people are not disappointed but not extremely excited either. I don’t know if he was talking about the film or the shrimps. It’s a reply which means: it’s not bad for a Saturday night in Paceville, and could apply to anything.
The Writer did not eat most of his whitebait fritters. I tried one and immediately found out why: there was something slimy in the mix, as if the egg whites had been in the fridge for a really long time and had solidified yet remained liquid.
My ‘home-made sausage’ wrapped in Serrano ham (the packet kind) was so salty I had to leave half of it there. The fried mushrooms on the side tasted a little old and seemed re-fried until they became black.
GBF’s tuna with balsamic vinegar was the hit of the night, with the fish just seared and the balsamic adding a nice sweetness to it all. GBF has lost a lot of weight. So has the Corporate Lawyer. So has TW. They’re all on low-carb. They look super fab. Bruno would agree. I guess they’d like me to tell you. So I am.
I have no idea what food everybody else had. There was quite a bunch of us and I couldn’t keep up, too busy staring at the TV ‘stars’’ flicked hair. The overall summation of the food was that it was inoffensive. It was also very prettily laid out in square plates. When you’re on a night out with nine other people, you don’t want Alain Ducasse cooking for you. You wouldn’t want Bruno either. So Hugo’s goes down a treat.

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