Thursday, June 18, 2009

Recreating a Delicious Musical Picnic Tradition

Can you be homesick for a place, which isn’t really your home? For this vagabond of sorts, the answer is yes. I’ve been missing Adelaide, Australia : the best quality produce and specialties food sold by a spunky bunch of people at the Adelaide Central Market, great coffee, glorious wineries, BBC at Ying Chow, cheap wines (well, compared to Singapore, it’s much cheaper), my friends, and yes, even the pie cart guy who gives me free Kransky sausages…. and the list goes on.

So when I saw the streamer announcing an upcoming free concert by the Singapore Lyric Opera at the Botanic Gardens, I had to drop my Saturday evening commitment. One of my treasured memories of Adelaide was listening to the orchestra perform in Elder Park. And it was always an instant picnic. In true Aussie fashion, it was always a spontaneous gathering with bottles of wine, beer, and some bites. I would bring some artisan breads, hummus, and other dips from the Providore, a gourmet shop in the market I worked for on weekends. Mark, the kind owner, gave his employees unsold breads on Saturdays for the shop was closed till Tuesday. My friends would bring whatever they had at home. Michelle, my Japanese-American friend, always prepared a Japanese dish.

Excited by re-creating this lovely tradition of having a picnic while listening to the Orchestra. I sent a message to a few friends for a picnic last Saturday night. Despite the brief downpour in the morning, everything worked seamlessly. The group of seven all converged with enough food, drink and sarongs to sit on. Led by 32-year old conductor Joshua Tan Kang Ming, the SLO featuring two sopranos and a tenor performed Mozart’s Impressario overture, arias and love duets from La Boheme, the Drinking Song from La Traviata, 'O Mio Babino Caro' and 'La Donna E Mobile' from Rigoletto. Everyone enjoyed from kids, adults, even the adorable chocolate Labrador named Guapa, playing next to me. And aptly, the last song performed was 'Time to Say Goodbye.' When the concert ended, as if on cue, we had finished our stash of Danish salami, hummus, crackers, bottles of wine, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and olives. I craned my neck to see what other people were eating. Some expats had large ‘eskies’ as the Aussie would call them, to the rest of us, coolers filled with chilled beers. Some locals brought rice meals in takeaway containers.

While our companions were ready to head home, my German friend Alex and I both wanted to lie on backs and enjoy the stars. We laid out our sarongs away from people. We gazed up at the sky counting stars, and sharing stories. The air was unusually cooler on this special night. Surrounded by towering trees and the nearby orchid garden, there was a sweet floral waft. This natural perfume added another layer to the already memorable evening. Savoring every bit of the experience, we only left the garden for fear we would fall into deep sleep lying on the grass.

Surely you do get homesick for places you’ve once called home. But you can also re-create traditions and make beautiful new memories wherever you are!


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