The "Oh, My Fucking God" Cafe


The “Oh, My Fucking God” Cafe was established in 2004 in the kitchen of Shangri La studio, Malibu, California. After Mark Knopfler chose Shangri La as the studio for his album of the same name, the next logical concern was of course, the food. Mics, guitars, amps…those are minor concerns when it comes to producing a musical masterpiece of the first order. The issue that overloaded email inboxes on both sides of the Atlantic was, “Who is cooking?”

Studio owner Beej Chaney, after diligent research, found someone. As I re-read the last sentence, I must apologize for the poverty of the statement. I might just as well say that Michaelangelo painted some things, or that Edison figured some stuff out. Yes, Beej found someone to cook for the sessions. And that someone was named Myriam…and Myriam, like Michaelangelo and Edison, is very special indeed.

I first met Myriam and her husband, Manuel, about a month before the sessions were to begin. She had agreed to fix lunch for us at the studio in order that we might get an idea of her culinary skills. Ultimately it proved to be a total waste of time. As far as anyone within nostril range was concerned, she was hired before the napkins were folded!

Now, as to the naming of the “Oh, My Fucking God” Cafe, credit must be given to the musicians in Mark’s band. Engineer/producer Chuck Ainlay had arrived on the scene a few days early and the band members were all finally assembled the night before recording was to begin. That dinner was the first meal that Myriam put on the table. It was a typical re-assembling of old veterans and comrades. There was much catching up to do and the kitchen was a hive of excited conversation. There were some comments about how good it smelled in there, but by and large, it was a bunch of guys with a job in front of them catching up on the latest news.

Then, the soup landed as if in flying saucers from another planet. I think it was a Carrot and ginger puree. Now, one thing about these guys that must be said, they are all gentlemen and no-one lifted a spoon until all had been served. The conversation continued until the first spoonful found it’s target and then, one voice after another intoned the words, “Oh, my fucking God…” softly, almost religiously. The sound of it resembled the muttered prayers of monks in a monastery. And then everyone, empty spoon half-raised, looked up at Myriam as if she was a vision of the Vigin Mary appearing in a cloud and repeated, “Oh, my fucking God…”

In the five weeks that the band ate Myriam’s food, it was always the same. The impact of her menu rivalled any religious experience I had ever personally witnessed. I had seen people pray before, but never with this level of commitment and gratitude. This was, for all purposes a true conversion to a higher power. At one sitting, Chuck begged that the first course be the last because it was so good, and he was afraid that anything better might kill him. There was talk of shooting ourselves in the head to prevent ourselves from profaning our palates with what we had regarded as food during the course our lives before Myriam.

The curious thing was, that everyone said it. It was a prayer uttered by all, and completely involuntary. When someone new was at the table, the initiates would wait and watch as the guest took his first bite. And every time, bar none, it was as if John the Baptist himself was hard at work. The words would come out, “Oh, my fucking God…”, and the conversion completed. Rudy Pensa visited for a few day. Now Rudy not only knows food, Rudy loves food. Converting Rudy would be like putting a turban on the Pope. But when Rudy took that first bite…one bite…he leaped out of his chair and, at the top of his lungs, screamed, “Myriam… Oh my fucking God… Myriam… I want to kill myself! Jesus Christ! Myriam!” Our Lady of Fatima was child’s play in comparison!

I ate better during those five weeks than I ever had, before or since. And Myriam’s food became a catalyst bonding everyone with the good fortune of having partaken of it into a special sort of brotherhood. There would be knowing glances of an almost occult nature. Someone might say, “Man, remember that fish yesterday?” and the others would murmer a reponse as if to say “et cum spiri tu tuo”.

Ah yes…the wistful memories that are the “Oh, My Fucking God” Cafe. I have only one regret, and that is that Mother Teresa has passed on from this world. I truly wish that she could have experienced Myriam’s God-like talent. Not that I care if she ever got a good meal…I just would have given anything to hear her solemnly intone those magic words.

One Response to “The "Oh, My Fucking God" Cafe”

  • Lucia

    Oh, my fucking God!!! This is the sweetest article I’ve ever read, specially because it’s about my mom, and it’s a lovely way to talk about her.
    Thanx, Pete for writing stuff that I actually love to read (!) and for the intention with which these words are written.
    Lucia

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