The Nomad Chef road show, road movie prep continues. On Tuesday I flew with a cameraman and all of his beautiful equipment, to capture some footage of Susana, my beautiful fellow traveler on this journey. Tools are a very important part of the trade – whether cooking or shooting a film. In a screenplay, this part of the film is called the set up. It is where we see the characters in the world where the story takes place. It is how we, the audience, get to know the characters. And for the first 10 minutes of a film we get an idea of what the theme of the film is about. Sometimes there is a slow start. Life is in balance. But we know that something is coming. The rug is pulled out from under the protagonist. That’s me. Not even a week into filming and a rug was pulled out.
Some films start with a big action scene, like in James Bond movies. But how dramatic can a documentary about two women of a certain age trying to re-invent themselves on a road trip be? We’re not talking about Thelma and Louise here. Susana is rebounding from a relationship where she put her singing career on hold for 5 years, and I’m trying to find a way to fill the hole that was created with the loss of my son. I thought I’d document our journey to New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley – the destinations providing wonderful backdrops for what is really an inner journey that sometimes for one, and often for the other, is a bleak and lonely trek. The trip is supposed to be fun, a reward for having survived difficult things. We’ve gathered a few minor characters into the mix, a couple of people who heard about the adventure and wanted to visit these iconic locations. I am, by default, the tour guide.
After Berlin, where Susana is hoping to live at least half time and where she has found a new manager, our plan was to meet again in Madrid, her birth home. I’ve never been there and neither had the cameraman. Susana was our host. Day 1 of the 3 of us being together. The first day of a 2 ½ day trip – simple prep (in food speak, but translate to flim speak, i.e., cutaway shots)… a little background. Two hours after we’d arrived and had eaten at a little restaurant on a beautiful square where I was assured that I could find something vegetarian (a much bigger challenge in Spain than in most other southern European countries), we jumped into the cab. Next stop, Susana’s recording studio.
The cameraman leaps out of the cab to run into a little shop for batteries for the microphones. Susana pays the taxi driver and she and I leisurely get out. Just as it was driving away the cameraman shouts, “Hey, where’s my equipment?” We thought he had it with him. He assumed we were guarding it. The taxi thinks (perhaps) he might have found a hidden treasure in the trunk of his car. Cut to CHASE SCENE: The cameraman runs down the street screaming after a white taxi (they are all white in Madrid). Susana jumps into another taxi to take chase. And I am left standing on a street corner in a city I’ve never even visited before.
Two days later, after a visit to the police station, 50 calls to taxi companies and the lost objects number, there is still no sign of the equipment. It is all insured, but not likely to be replaced by Monday when leg two of our journey begins. I have a plan B and a plan C, but no one likes to lose their stuff even when it is insured. We lost about 24 hours of what was meant to be a lovely tour of Madrid, good restaurants and a chance to see how well we hang out together. I know about loss. There is no insurance for what I’ve lost. But that doesn’t make anyone else feel any better.
The only short-term solution I can think of to lighten the mood is a good meal. It always works for me. Food is love and comfort. I needed both. We ate at ESTADO PURO, “pure state” where Paco Roncero is the chef. He is a former student and business partner of the famed El Bulli’s Ferran Adria. Great food is my secret remedy. These nuevas tapas (nouvelle cuisine in tapas) righted for me most of what was wrong. My cameraman was still feeling the loss of his stuff, but even he laughed and smiled while we ate. I’m sure it helped a ton that we sat at the bar next to a beautiful young French actress sitting all by herself. She’d just finished a day of shooting for a TV commercial. We lost some tools but found new friends – nuevos amigos. And she wants to find a house in Paris for the traveling Nomad Chef to do one of our traveling dinners. It is true that some losses are irreplaceable. But there are others that are not as serious and can lead to surprising encounters and lovely new friends. All good films, like lives, include losses. We just started having them at the very beginning of the journey. I guess it is all about how we tell our stories that is important, how we find something to hold onto. Maybe the rug was pulled out from under us, but we’re on a magic carpet ride and… we’re flying.