A Hulk Blew Up: Then Mozzarella Water Everywhere: Travel’s Perils

Wednesday 15th August 2012

Today is Ferragosto: The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. I’m to be in pink and stone (Paul Smith and an unknown house).

Last week I ventured to make coffee after lunch in the villa kitchen. A hulk was at hand. If you’re not sure what a hulk is, see graph below. Anthony Mottram, my oldest and closest friend, had a hulk of his own at Barrowborough, our rural public (that’s a type of school) where we suffered in the early 70s. It was one of the features that set us apart from the other boys.

Sometimes we would forget the hulk because playing a 78 of ‘Stormy  Weather’ on a Victrola (that’s a wind-up gramophone with horn)  and the coffee would boil in the upper chamber.

You unscrew your hulk and it comes in half. In the lower chamber you put water. For efficiency and danger, you can place the lower body over the gas while you fill up the sieve with coffee and screw the top part back on again.

Then you wait. After about five minutes of menacing inertia, your hulk begins volcanically to splutter, gurgle and rattle. This is the boiling water being blasted through the coffee section and into the upper chamber. Gingerly you must lift your hulk lid to check the process is complete but it might do a surprise final retch of molten coffee at just that moment.

The full-sized hulk (you can get baby ones) which is what Anthony Mottram had and what I was using in this Tuscan villa kitchen is one of the most dangerous known kitchen devices.

So I was standing over this Tuscan hulk, wondering rather at its failure to perform when suddenly from deep within there was a rumbling and a glugging then an unfamiliar thunderous roll before it howled and in one lash blasted its entire contents all over my Marc Jacobs cream jeans, the gas hob and indeed several walls of the villa kitc.

The wiping and sponging – I can’t tell you.

The villa manager paid a surprise visit. I said, ‘This hulk is faulty.’ She struggled so much to say ‘hulk’ although her English is generally excellent.

Fortunately I was not scalded. Later the adorable villa maid restored my Marc Jacobs.

It turned out that a vital filter had dropped out of the underside of the top section of the hulk. When the water boiled below, there was nothing to prevent the violent ejection of the entire contents from the machine.

In Montevarchi market, the Photo Multi bought 2 dozen bracelets with ‘Italia’ on them in different colours, kindly distributed amongst villa guests, 3 plastic ladles in green, pink and yellow, possibly a troll in a snowstorm (you know those glass baubles: when you shake, it snows) and a selection of wooden spoons,ashtrays (he doesn’t smoke), hats and belts. We recovered in the cafe where Cameron coffee-ed last year and didn’t tip the waitress, who was then hurtled into the Daily Mail.  With her we gesticulated and ejaculated: ‘Cameron!’ we went. ‘Si, si,’ she went. On leaving, there was a fearful puddle of mozzarella water under the Photo Multi’s seat.

‘I knew that mozzarella man was a crook,’ the Blond Multi stamped. But in fact the Photo Multi had pierced the bag with his chair leg.

Sweeping out, at the five metre mark, the Blond Multi returned to explain in his new Italian which he’s been learning all summer as a retirement project. He speaks well and with no attempt at an accent whatsoever. Italian women, addressed by a strapping blond hunk with several million behind him, understand perfectly.

The Tuscan Villa Hulk: One of the Most Dangerous Domestic Machines Known to Man



Cafe in Montevarchi Where Cameron Coffee-ed Last Year and We Left Mozzarella Water on Floor This

Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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