Vivid Food Dreams and the Politics of South Vietnam (Dec 1)

One thing that has been interesting out here is that I’ve noticed my dreams are far more vivid and detailed, the memory of thiem lasts far longer than when I was home. Perhaps it’s my mind trying to cope with the perpetual ground hogs day that I’m living out here, giving me an escape to better places. The other night I dreamt of a pastry shop, in a mall somewhere. It was a large store painted in warm tones, and the glass case was filled with the wares of the trade. Outside its doors it was connected to a large courtyard done up in faux brick and iron fences, with table to match, against one wall a film was being played – old movie, grainy washed out colors, something along a beach I think (the movie).

It was winter, or perhaps fall beyond the large glass windows leading outside and everyone seemed to be bundled up a bit against the chill. Just beyond the courtyard of the bakery a group of mall patrons tool part in some sort of flash mob, choreographed dance to an old rock and roll song I recognized but couldn’t quite place, the melody familiar, but it had been a very long time since I’d heard the tune. It was night time, and as was common practice this day an independent film screening was held (every week) and the baked goods in the counter from the day were eventually moved out to tables, wrapped in cellophane and marked half off. I poked through the pile of cupcakes and muffins and scones to find what I was looking for – intently searching for Spiced Apple Pie Cinnamon rolls. This is a baked good I’ve never had in real life, but I could imagine it in great detail in my dreams. Two large square cinnamon rolls, like you find so often in bakeries and restaurants topped in a cream-cheese type sweet frosting, that had been spread with a pastry knife almost carelessly, leaving traces of the blades path in the frosting. On top of the frosting, small cubed red apple pieces done up in a sugar and cinnamon apple pie filling style glaze indicated I had found my prize. Two of them, wrapped together – perfect. I made my purchase at the register from a tall woman with a very short blond haircut, she was wearing a red apron adorned with the bakery logo over a blue button down shirt and made small talk about how these were her favorite item to eat here. While I was paying she glanced across the hall where a competing bakery had just opened, offering more restaurant style seating and a dinner menu – it’s loge a bright green and white it took up nearly as much space as the warm bakery I was in, without the large courtyard. I made my way to a table, where two coffees sat and steamed already placed there, though by who I never really saw, strange that in a dream so vivid with detail the woman I’m with lingers only as a shadow of blurs in my minds eye – I can’t place a face to her or anything. It would seem the dream was more about the dessert than the company. I recall cutting into the spiced apple pie cinnamon roll with the edge of my fork, wiggling the utensil the part the dough, revealing (though it had been wrapped in plastic a moment ago) a warm and gooey center, small wisps of steam coming up from the snack. The familiar dark brown cinnamon roll filling mixed in between flaky layers of white dough was full of more cubes of the cinnamon and sugar coated red apple that was on top of the cinnamon roll. Each bite tasted like better than the last, the sweetness of the apple pie filling mixed into the richness of the cinnamon roll and dough. I’m no baker, but when I get back to the USA, I’m going to find someone to make this for me.
We’ve been on a constant west heading now for the last few days, the fish seem to have eluded us in the Fiji waters and we’re now steaming (used loosely since we have a diesel engine) toward the Solomon Islands and PNG. It sounds as if this will be my main region of operations for the next few month, Jose tells me. Then the fish will migrate back east and we will head towards Samoa, and then back to Fiji. We’ve had a piss poor last three settings, loosing the entire catch to fast tuna and slow nets so hopefully this next set we actually bring fish on. We would have been full if we had made all three of those sets and would be probably tied up in Pohnpei right now along side two of our sister ships that are (were) full and already there.

I had an interesting conversation last night on the bridge while we were more or less in auto-navigation mode with the Vietnamese 2nd officer. Conversation is a word that perhaps gives more credit to the content of our dialogue than is due, considering he barely speaks English and I don’t speak any Vietnamese. I was able to gather however that he is from South Vietnam, in Saigon (same-same America he says). He gives me a bit of a tour of the various radar and sonar displays and navigation display and then we sit silent for a bit. Hand gestures and tired forced-accent laden platitudes perhaps exhausted for this evening when all of a sudden, and unsolicited he speaks up again, “Barrack Obama bad, we no like Barrack Obama in Vietnam.”

I can’t help but smile at the fact that despite the thousands of miles of separation of our two countries and totally different lifestyles and educations, we’ve found common footing in the dislike of the current American President. I simply reply “No like Obama in America either” using my best forced accent as if mangling my speech will make it easier for him to understand “very very corrupt, bad president.”

Vietnam just moved up a peg in my book.

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