THE PUB AT THE FREIGHT STATION – project “52”
The days at the freight station had no beginning and never ended. The shifts and movements were simple – “arriving” and “leaving”. Big, heavy and slow moving compositions of train containers would crawl to the centre of the depot where they’ll queue for the crane to unload.
The better end of the road was leading straight to the main entrance of the Central City Station. It was a well-loved place for the locals as they had a soft spot for this old Baroque style building which often was a setting for family reuniting photos or proposals for marriage. The romance about this Central Station must’ve been inbuilt from the first blueprints of the dreamy and passionate architect Mariano Pernigoni who was invited to design the building all the way from Italy.
The road that was connecting the freight station and the Central City Station was heading to the town’s University. Another old Baroque building but this one was designed and built by French missionaries.
In the middle of these major sites was squatting a small dark building with an uncertain colour coat of crumbling wall plaster and two grimy windows. Their smokey look reminded of a smudged makeup on the face of an aging harlot. And the doors of this place was just as trashy and welcoming as a heart of a strumpet – it can greet any docker from the freight station after shift work, any poor student that has the last penny in the pocket and any visiting university lecturer travelling from contract to contract in the academic net of universities. They called it the Pub at the Freight Station.
It was open for business at 2 am. The menu was simple and downright trashy – beer and tripe soup. Nobody would afford something else. For the drunkards, the beer was a refreshing apogee of the long drinking session. For the students, the twenty-penny tripe soup was the only hope to be with full stomach till the next parcel supplies with homemade preserves and delicacies. For the travelling professors, the beer was like a morning coffee before lectures and the tripe soup was like energy shot for the week ahead of drilling and boring holes of knowledge in the heads of the students.
As they were slurping the hot tripe soup garnished with chilli and crushed garlic, they all were alike and equal with no significance of their walk of life. The smell of sweat, dust, nasty breath of stale was joining the stench of obligatory garnish of this famous soup – garlic crushed with chilli and vinegar. The men were eating and sweating; sweat would turn into tears and then comes the moment that the intensity of the spicy dressing would mutate into an uncontrollable sob and blubber when everybody becomes a friend with everybody...
And then, by 5 am, all is eaten. The dockers would leave to get some rest. The lecturing professors would take a slow walk to the back gates of the University. The students would toss a coin to go to lectures or go and sleep. One thing for sure – the tripe soup has made them all feel warm, full and loved. Damn that whore! She still knows how to make men happy...
TRIPE SOUP (Whore’s Style)
Good quality honeycomb tripe, well washed and cleaned
Celery stick, charred onion and a carrot
Few black peppercorns
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
50 grams of butter
2 Tablespoons of plain flour
½ cup of fresh milk
Garlic clove to taste
Cover the tripe with water in a deep pot and bring water to boil; skim the froth. Turn the heat down, add the celery stick, charred onion, carrot, salt and peppercorns and continue to cook gently for another hour. Check the tripe. If it feels tender, take it out and cut it in easy to serve pieces or even small bites (personal choice). Remove the celery, onion and carrot. In a separate pot heat the oil and the butter and cook in it the flour till golden. Pour in it the stock from the boiled tripe. If you prefer a thicker soup, don’t add all the bouillon. Add the cut pieces of tripe back in the cooking pot. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes on low heat. Remove from stove and let it rest for about half an hour. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs with the fresh milk and gently stir in bit by bit some of the warm soup watching for the eggs not to scramble. Then move the whole mix back in the soup and stir for about a minute.
In a heavy mortar and pestle crush garlic and chilli as your taste desire. Mix in it some vinegar and serve as a side garnish. It is very strong and punchy and usually doesn’t require more than a teaspoon in a serve.
Whatever your make is, whatever your status – this soup brings men together and cradles them like a trashed weathered woman that could’ve been a good mother if she had a chance...
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