Richard Lutz lurches towards a Christmas with tiers.
“There are two ways of doing Christmas lunch. The way your mum did it. Or the wrong way.” (John Cooper Clarke)
Half a mile from the old lighthouse, past the swerve of the shore and bend of the bay, is target Numero Uno today as we battle with Lockdown Festivities.
But in these straitened times, will the old place be open? Or shut? Banged up and closed for good? Reduced to rubble? Half of Strathcarrick, strung like a line of rumbled pearls on the Scottish west coast, makes for this little concrete hut by the sea for their double cheeseburgers, their haggis suppers, their egg on a white well-fired roll, their sausages shlurping with brown sauce and salt. Everyone knows Sinkies.
Or else they know it as The Snak Shak. Or The Milk Bar. Or, suddenly, as David’s. Whatever it’s most recent reincarnation, here it is in all its yellow glory trimmed with blue:
But whatever the latest name, all you have to see is its roughcast lurid body hunkering down in the prevailing southwest sea-wind and those Food Glands start to rip.
So, while the Christmas trimmings are being picked up (and there are some Lockdown deals to be had on the emptying shelves), I join the vans and cars, the motorcycles and lorries off the Belfast ferry who have been waiting, waiting, waiting, as the customers line up in the biting cold for their orders.
Sinkies, David’s, The Snak Shak, The Milk Bar, whatever the name, it’s the biz when it comes to a take out caff. It delivers right up to the last gasp til Christmas Day arrives, this year, of course, low key, pruned to the bone, under a shadow of the pandemic.
Now, To highlight how Sinkie’s is writ large in the Strathcarrick mindset, check out this lyrical elegy scrawled on a nearby tough old sea wall:
Who doesn’t love Sinkies, tucked down by the shore.
It got boatloads of haggis and folks screaming for more
Rammed with black pudding and gorgeous potato scones
It’s got cheesey chips a la mode that can make a fat man foam
Down at the shore, down at the shore, down at the yellow hut shore (etc, etc..)
Well, the Hawaiian haggis is awesome, loaded with pineapple and cheese
And there’s link sausage so spiced, it’ll rip you to the knees
And fresh lentil soup to warm your insides
Matter of fact, Sinkies does anything, so long as it’s fried
Down at the shore, down at the shore, down at the… (etc, etc)< And on and on it goes, this Homeric elegy to food on the old sea wall praising black pudding, square Lorne sausage rolls and the supreme white pudding suppers slathered in oil and rammed with…well, no-one is really sure what white pudding is actually. Except, it’s four on the floor when you absolutely need one.
Anyway, in the queue outside the yellow hut rigid with the cold whipping in from the sea wind, you just can’t get better when the triple sausage sarnie is dished out in a white crumbly bag. Whatever the big Christmas meal back home will be…and it will be good…it’s a great way to kick off this limited holiday fest with a quick trip to Sinkies…or The Snak Shak…or David’s… or The Milk Bar or whatever name it trades under on the cold cold Strathcarrick winter shore.