Sometimes you taste something and you just want more of it… While it’s difficult to know where to start talking about my recent holiday in Scotland, one part I definitely brought home with me (along with some Iona books, a new Fringe post-card and a sun-tan!) was a jar of very special maracujá jam. A rapidly emptying jar of jam. John and Lucia Falconer of Brazilian Sensation in Edinburgh are justifiably proud of their menu which includes an outstanding range of tropical juices. This year, after enjoying their xinxim and black bean dishes, we were pressed to try John’s prized maracujá jam, and to hear the story of how he imports the Brazilian passion fruit and painstakingly separates the seeds from the pulp to produce the sweet, fragrant jam which won a Gold Great Taste Award back in 2004. It is exotic and delicious, and his enthusiasm for it was endearing and my friend and I both bought a jar, even though at around £5 a time it’s a bit pricey. He was apologetic about this, but the costs of small scale intensive production and even jam jars make it seem more fair. And I am enjoying every teaspoonful.
Strangely to anyone who knows my musical preferences, and indeed, rather unexpectedly to me, the other new taste I developed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival was for good quality human beatboxing and vocal performance. Steve Lawson had plugged Shlomo’s show at the festival last year but we hadn’t been able to get tickets. This year we prioritised the show and I was properly blown away. The range of sounds combined with confident knowledge of musicality and harmony and masterful live-looping as well as a great rapport with his audience left me with a new found admiration for this side of hip-hop which has never really interested me. I knew I’d enjoyed rap versions of Shakespeare in the past, and in fact we’d already seen the Q brothers adaptation ‘Othello: The remix’ at the Pleasance. The skills involved in creating a 75 min version of Othello which stays true to the spirit of the story while making it utterly accessible to a young audience are also pretty phenomenal. But they did use electronically created sounds (and a rather reliable piece of source material).
Shlomo and his group of protégés ‘The Vocal Orchestra’ rely entirely on vocal sounds. Performing solo, Shlomo loops his vocal sounds to create a whole rhythm and musical soundscape. Directed by Shlomo, the seven performers in ‘The Vocal Orchestra’ don’t even use that, backing each other and creating a full-on dance and vocal ensemble featuring music from across the spectrum, recreating string quartets and DJing as well as music from many decades in between. Amazing stuff. Just to show how hooked I was, we also bought tickets to a late night spectacular where new-skool Shlomo performed alongside his hero old-skool Michael Winslow, the vocal performer famous in the 80s for playing Sergeant Larvelle Jones in Police Academy and otherwise known as the man of 10,000 sound effects. I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a gig at 11:50pm before, because I had another gig to go to, but the Amnesty benefit was over-running and we didn’t want to be late for Winshlo 2. Sometimes you have to leave the cool lines of the EICC to dash over to take a seat in an auditorium shaped like an upside down purple cow.
I suppose we overdosed rather on fantastic cultural content at the Fringe. Other highlights included Letter of Last Resort & Good With People at the Traverse, Angus: Weaver of Grass at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Nick Pynn and Kate Daisy Grant at Inlingua, Scottish band ‘The Deep Red Sky’ at the Acoustic Music Centre at St Brides and Josie Long at the Pleasance. Now I’m back at home, I’m making do with music festivals on the television and the varied outpourings of the Sherlock fandom online. Just as speculation following the series 2 finale was dying down (was it?), now we have three new teaser words for Series 3. Cumberbatch fans have the promising looking ‘Parade’s End’ on BBC2 where cuckolded Christopher Tietjens faces his own forbidden fruit in the form of suffragette Valentine Wannop. So far he’s being very noble about it all, standing for monogamy in marriage even in the face of his wife’s unfaithfulness. I don’t know how far his fans will approve of his fidelity – there are rather more than Fifty Shades of Sherlock on the internet and not that many of them have him successfully resisting temptation. Of course, I’m not carrying out a thorough study…
I’m all for trying new things, and more than happy to promote tropical fruit jam and the talents of Shlomo and The Vocal Orchestra. I don’t think either of them is spreading as fast as ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (which I haven’t read – partly because I have decided it would not be helpful for me). I am wondering about the impact of feeding an appetite for accessible written porn for women. While erotic fiction has been available for years, I’m sure the various e-book readers are increasing the market as it’s much less obvious what you’re reading on the train or the bus. Maybe our tastes are getting more exotic. Maybe Brazilian passion fruit tastes better than basic strawberry. Well do ya, do ya maracujá? Well do ya, do ya do ya wanna wanna taste, of what you’ve never tasted before?