Bobby R. Presents: Tasting the intangibleBobby R. Presents Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Some cultures performed ritual cannibalism, believing that the consumption of the dead would bestow the vitality associated with the organs eaten. I do not suggest gnawing on your uncle’s brain to gain his keen stock market sense but suggest looking towards your food for the soul of the cook.
I had just got off the BART at Powell station in Union Square, San Franscisco. Starving, and looking for a quick lunch that would be delicious but not take a chunk out of my wallet, and being unfamiliar with the city, I turned to the Yelp application on my iPhone for help. Searching through restaurants filtered by the least expensive, I was drawn to a place called Crepe o Chocolat, which held four stars based on 238 reviews.
The woman behind the counter was exotic, speaking with a mild French accent. She was abrupt with my questions and I would have left if I hadn’t been famished.
Looking behind her, I noticed a handwritten chalk board sign reading “Arugula salad: $7” and ordered the seemingly simple dish. Sylvie, I later found she was called, turned her back to me, and in the fashion of the Muppets’ Swedish chef tossed some ingredients in a bowl with great gesticulation. She turned, and presented me with an overstuffed cardboard to-go container plus fork, took my $7, and said nothing.
I walked outside the cafe, opened the container and almost fell over when I saw heaping amounts of scarlet quinoa mixed with the bright arugula. I had low expectations of the containers’ contents based on Sylvie’s curt disposition, but my mood quickly changed after seeing this beautiful display. I have always loved the grain as a substitution for rice or cous cous, and seeing it before me put an immediate smile on my face.
Working my way deeper into the salad I was presented with more hidden treasures. Braised Brussels sprouts, roasted baby eggplant and a thick hummus like dressing. Each bite made me happier than the last as the flavors and textures danced in my mouth.
I don’t know what spices she used or what techniques were applied to the ingredients, but what I could tell was that there was a bit of her culinary spirit present in each bite. I was eating a tradition special to her which left me with a feeling in my heart that is very hard to describe.
Back in San Diego, I look back at Sylvie’s rough customer service skills as a nuance unique to her. It made the lunch more special thinking that she was probably just as quirky as I am, and it was a relief I did not have to take a bite out of her arm to experience her culinary skills.
I hope that you will or have had a truly moving foodie experience such as mine, instilling an intangible flavor to your heart, mind and soul.
Bobby R. Presents appears in each issue of the San Diego LGBT Weekly. Questions and comments can be sent to bobbyrpresents.blogspot.com.
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