Enlightenment Productions | Prêt a Manger
Enlightenment Productions is an award-winning film and TV production company based in London and founded in partnership between producer Hanan Kattan and writer and director Shamim Sarif.
TV and Film Production, Media and film, entertainment, shamim sarif, hanan kattan
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Prêt a Manger

Prêt a Manger

I’m writing this in the waiting room of a medical centre, where Hanan has just left me to get an MRI on her dislocated kneecap.

I watched her go, leaning in pain on her stick, my eyes moist.

‘Are you sure I can’t come in with you?’ I whispered, all but hanging on to her good leg.

She replied with all the romanticism I have come to know and love.

‘Waste of time,’ she said. ‘Make sure you’ve finished a blog by the time I’m out.’

Right then. I retreated to the waiting room, chastened, only to find she had pulled open the door for a last word before she was separated from me to be sucked into a dark machine.

‘What did you want to tell me?’ I asked softly, encouragingly.

‘You have an hour,’ she said. ‘I asked the nurse.’

So here I am blogging. How did this mishap occur, I hear you ask.

My wife wasn’t skiing, mountain biking or even chasing after me with a new To Do list, she was sitting on the Eurostar to Paris, where we were taking our now annual Christmas day trip with the boys, invited by our friend Kelly and her daughter Chatham (the boys’ cooking cohort in Kitchen Chaos).

As Hanan twisted to get out of her seat to look at something on Kelly’s iPad, her knee sort of stayed behind, and popped out. We all looked on aghast as she clutched her leg, eyes rolling in excruciating pain.

‘Pop it back in, mama!’ was Ethan’s practical advice, and she did. It took an hour of recovery, for she turned quite grey and short of breath in the aftermath. But, like the true brave spirit she is, she recovered in time to hobble off the train and insisted on continuing the day in Paris and refusing the train staff’s offer of a wheelchair.

Of course, we found out later she should have been splinted up and immobile for 72 hours, but instead we all drew on our medical training (which sadly ends at applying band aids) and bought Hanan a walking stick and decided that the best treatment would be a meal. We headed for a brasserie in Isle St Louis and ate copious amounts of steak, chicken, frites and cheese. As we limped out, some of us staggering from dislocated knees, the rest of us just overfull, Hanan suggested that while we walked off the meal she would wait for us in Berthillon, perhaps the best ice cream shop in the world.

Well, we took exercise for all of 15 minutes before we joined her for ice cream and a hot chocolate that came in 3 serving dishes (containing melted chocolate, steamed frothy milk and creme chantilly respectively) on a silver tray. We tried to tear ourselves away, but we were slack from overindulgence and the children had fallen into food comas.

‘We should go. I organized a surprise that starts in 10 minutes,’ Kelly said.

I put down my spoon, relieved. A museum, or a walking tour would be just the thing to stop us inhaling any more food.

‘What is it?’ I asked, eager for deliverance from chocolate.

‘I booked a lesson for you and kids to learn to make macaroons…’

Though I wanted to sleep off the 100 pounds of food I had already consumed, I channelled my inner Henry VIII and went to the class. It was an excellent class, though our meringues turned out a dodgy shade of grey.

‘They look very contemporary,’ commented the head of the cookery school. ‘Sort of like pebbles in a Zen garden.’

I was just grateful not to be tempted to add a grey, Zen macaroon to list of food I’d already consumed. But while we had been cooking, and undeterred by shifting kneecaps, my wife had been taking a cab across Paris to buy cheese.

‘But there’s a cheese shop right next door,’ I pointed out. ‘You should be resting your knee!’

‘Cheese has to be from Androuet,’ she said, as if that explained everything. ‘The man said this Camembert will be ready in 2 days.’

‘Really?’ I was slightly sceptical. ‘What time?’

‘In time for lunch,’ Hanan shot back. ‘I got a selection for all of us to take home,’ she said. ‘And on the way to the Eurostar we need to pick up the ice cream from Berthillon.’

‘Didn’t we just have ice cream?’ I asked.

‘I ordered it to take back,’ returned my wife. ‘I’ve done it for 25 years, they know how to pack it.’

Of course they do. I dragged myself back onto the Eurostar home laden down with cheeses in one hand and enough ice cream for a party at Versailles in the other.

We’d barely settled into our seats, when Kelly whipped out two baguettes.

‘Those won’t last till tomorrow,’ I told her sagely. ‘Baguettes need to be eaten the same day.’

‘We’re eating them now,’ Kelly confirmed. ‘Unpack that Camembert, will you?’

‘But it’s not ready for another 47 hours,’ I began. I was overruled and we opened the vacuum-packed cheese, filling the train carriage with a scent that made Luca weep (and not in a good way) and had the other passengers wonder if they had ever left Paris.

I was too full to eat a bite. But I did.

I could have written it off as a day of indulgence, but we’d just been to see ‘Meet Me in St Louis’ only a couple of days earlier, also with Kelly, at the British Film Institute, an afternoon that had started with a blowout meal at Royal China, where Hanan ordered enough crispy duck to fortify an entire Chinese province.

That sojourn had continued at the Christmas market outside the BFI, where hot waffles and Spanish churros were on offer.

‘I think we should get just a few,’ Hanan suggested.

‘I can’t eat a thing!’ I protested.

‘Just to change the taste from the Chinese food.’

How could one argue with such practicality? We tucked into hot churros, dipping them into chocolate sauce, while Kelly and her sister sipped at mulled wine and pancakes.

By the time we went back into the foyer of the BFI there was a mere 20 minutes till the movie.

‘You know what would be perfect now?’ Hanan asked. I hesitated. A lie down? A colonic irrigation?

‘A hot chocolate,’ Hanan said. I went to get hot drinks for everyone, coming back in time to find that Kelly and Hanan had comandeered the very table where I had signed books after ‘I Can’t Think Straight’ had played at the BFI.

‘Why do you need such a big table?’ I asked.

Kelly regarded me as if I had lost my brain cells back at the fair. ‘For snacks,’ she said.

A big biscuit tin lined with foil and filled with homemade cakes and biscuits was hefted onto the table, followed by bags of crisps and nuts. Luca knocked over a cup and a trail of crumbs marked the spot where we lingered. A security guard cast us an askance look but we were mid munch so he hesitated to interrupt us. The feast carried on inside the cinema, where Judy Garland sang to the gentle crackle of tin foil and sweet packets. Well, Christmas comes but once a year. And my arteries and Hanan’s kneecaps are glad of that. Happy Holidays to one and all…we wish you a wonderful holiday season, a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, filled with old movies, good food and just a little healthy exercise…

The Sarif-Kattan clan prowl around Paris looking for their next meal

The Sarif-Kattan clan prowl around Paris looking for their next meal

Shamim Sarif
  • Prêts à Manger | Le blog français de Shamim Sarif
    Posted at 14:12h, 23 December

    […] Article original : Prêt A Manger […]

  • Le blog français de Shamim Sarif
    Posted at 14:10h, 23 December

    […] Article original : Prêt A Manger […]

  • ShamimSarifOfficialFrenchBlog
    Posted at 13:44h, 23 December

    VF : http://shamimsariffrance.wordp

    Indeed, tradtionnal romantism would be to be able to claim how painful an hour separation would be… but a French for instance would then hoot in pain with a dislocated kneecap, blame it on the Eurostar, its staff and equipment, fire the driver and call for an immediate strike, which would ruin everyone's trip. Middle-Eastern romantism is slightly different, with unexpected facets. 

    I'm in awe how Hanan manages to twist -not kneecaps, geez, I felt nauseated just translating- a situation so that in the end, she'll come up with positive things around it. I wish us all to continue learning in 2012 (and many other years to come) from you two, combination of unfailing determination and a good dose of (helpful!) humour!

    And more wine, which was obviously not the point of that year trip 😉 

    BTW, next year, I'm gonna leave you my mobile number, just in case something else weird happens to you all.

  • Lemonwoodcourt
    Posted at 13:12h, 23 December

    My problem with channelling my inner Henry VIII is that it triggers my outer Henry VIII as well, but without all the wives!  Hanan, the puppets and I are conducting healing meditations on your behalf.  Om. Om. Om.  Christmas Blessings to you all from your friends at Lemonwood Court!

  • Iqra
    Posted at 08:19h, 23 December

    hy shamim 🙂 hanan is facing health problms it looks from ur prevs blogs also ! so y dont u give some “sadqaa” for hanan's health?? ill be praying for ur famly 🙂

  • Bondt2
    Posted at 05:10h, 23 December

    Shamim,Hanan & Kids,
    Merry christmas and a great and healthy 2021..

  • Kmme14
    Posted at 01:32h, 23 December

    The story is hilarious.. I am glad that your wife is ok now and you all enjoyed so delicious food. Merry Christmas and have a great coming year. My will be also good, I will watch your films for sure :). Blessings

  • flintsuter
    Posted at 23:10h, 22 December

    A beautiful family, a hilarious blog, enough butterfat to create an oil slick, what more could one ask? Here's a glass of a deeply wonderful wine to the entire Sarif-Kattan clan, may the healing of Hanan's knee be as wonderful as the adventure which created the ouchie in the first place! Prayers on that!
    Have a marvelous holiday, the boys are becoming even more handsome young men…

  • Maureen
    Posted at 21:08h, 22 December

    Now I have whacked my own knee on the file cabinet by my desk more than a few times and hard enough to cause a blue streak to shoot from my mouth, but I can only barely imagine the owie Hanan suffered on the train. But thank goodness there is nothing that can really stop us from good cheese, bread with an occasional ice-cream. 
    Hope you are feeling better. 

    Good to hear of Kelly. Have been wondering where she has been.

  • misty matonis
    Posted at 18:53h, 22 December

    “pop it back in”… if only life were that easy! 😀

  • Claudia
    Posted at 18:24h, 22 December

    Excuse me, I just burped! 🙂 'Colonic irrigation' …. so funny, but on a serious side, Hanan is a real trooper!! ( Tiger, Chicken …. War Horse, maybe?) My heart flutters and races just thinking of “popping” the kneecap back in place and the pain!  But, Christmas is upon us ….. and Sarif-Kattan clan take care of one another and enjoy your holidays to the max!  Merry Christmas!
    PS The boys are growing quickly ….. handsomely and losing the “baby look.” 🙂

  • Daniela
    Posted at 18:18h, 22 December

    I had to smile (more than once) while reading this post. I am wishing you, Hanan and the boys a merry, peaceful christmas, as well as all the best for 2012 and  Hanan's kneecap and your arteries a speedy recovery 😉

  • Nell Aucoin Naquin
    Posted at 16:58h, 22 December

    Usually your tales, filled with frenetic activity, make my head spin until I reach the outer limits of vertigo.  Today, I am dehydrated due to profuse salivation brought about by your tasteful blog.  Pavlov would be jealous of your abilities!

    Happiest of Holiday Wishes to the Sarif-Kattan Family.  May 2012 bring us closer to inhabiting “The House of Tomorrow”!!  And above all, may 2012 quickly restore mere mortal Hanan back to SuperWoman status!