Continuing last week’s culinary travelogue, I hope you appreciate the risks I have taken along the way – most notably a wonderful jalfrezi in a dirty curry house in Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions which set a new record time through my intestine. It reappeared within four hours of the meal’s completion.
Ljubljana 2005: Horse
It was on the menu, I’d never tried it, wasn’t sure I’d get another chance, so I went for it. Tasteless, drowned in cranberries, with the texture of a bad steak. Wouldn’t do it again and shouldn’t have mentioned it to my 12-year-old niece who at the time was paying to feed and stable a horse she was riding each weekend. Oops.
Slovenia was lovely though, and outside the ground in Celje I learned what a bollock jacuzzi was from an Aberdonian fellow who proudly explained it to myself, a Tartan Special, and his American girlfriend – three people he’d just met. In case you’re wondering, here’s the definition from urbandictionary.com: “Fill up a teapot with warm water, then dip your balls into it. Whilst the balls are dangling in the water, the partner blows down the spout and creates a jacuzzi scenario”. The question I forgot to ask this guy: how do you get the sheep to blow?
Brussels 2001: Seafood platter
Not such an esoteric pick perhaps, but they say that Brussels is the best city for food lovers in Europe, and they can’t be far wrong – behind the Grand Platz in Brussels there are narrow streets packed with great bistros. The night after our 2-0 defeat started here with a mountain of crustacea, and ended with me lending my cellphone to the sister of a guy who’d fallen off a wall and landed in hospital. I got my phone back the next week; aren’t Scotland fans nice?
Tokyo 2006: Breakfast in Shibuya
Walking up a hill somewhere in Shibuya-ku at 6am in the morning with the sun coming up. I turn to my right and see a man in a spacesuit coming out of an enormous funnel. WTF? I am too wasted, so I ask my companions to confirm – and yes, there is a man in a spacesuit coming out of a funnel.
I guess the funnel is closing for the night.
200 yards later we find a restaurant doing breakfast – it is absolutely packed. To this day, I still have no idea if it was full of people like us (i.e. drunks at the tail end of an all-nighter) or sober salarymen grabbing a bite on the way to work.
Chisinau 2004: McDonald’s
I never eat at McDonald’s, or Burger King, or KFC, any of those shite fast-food junk places; and I make a special point to never eat at them while on tour – as you’ve probably guessed.
However the Big Mac Happy Meal I had in Chisinau 2004 was one of the best dinners I have ever had.
I had just spent 12 sober hours on the ‘bus from hell’, a coach trip from Odessa to Chisinau that we had been assured by the organiser (Kevin Thomas, sacked from St Johnstone in 2001 for doing coke at their club Christmas party) was a three-hour journey. Maybe it is, if you don’t get stopped for four hours at the Ukrainian side of the border and two hours at the Moldovan side, or if you pay the necessary bribes straight away. But for us, it was 12 hours, arriving at the game just before kickoff, and having eaten no food since breakfast because there is absolutely fucking nothing between Odessa and Chisinau – it was like driving across the moon.
So after witnessing Berti’s final fiasco in the freezing Moldovan night, it was straight to Mickey D’s because everyone was starving. The lines were out the door, and there was almost a riot when they started serving line-jumping locals first. Junk food never tasted so good.
London 1988: An Apple
I didn’t even eat this apple, but I remember it well. Football special from Waverley to King’s Cross, then wandering around Soho at 7am – our first trip to London, our first Scotland away game. My pal Steven stopped to buy a Golden Delicious from a fruit stall vendor; he mixed up his coins and gave him the wrong money. Sorting it out, barrow boy has a chuckle: “It’s all dat faaakin travel, innit mate?” So they do talk like that.
But he was right; it is all that fucking travel, isn’t it?
PS. I have never tasted a Killie pie.
Slovenia v Scotland, 2005
Photo credit: Travel Blog