Good food should stop you in your tracks. Snap like a crackle of heat lightning, rumbling through the rest of your life. I’ve had sandwiches that cut me off mid-sentence like Kanye West at an awards show.
“The so the doctor got my results back and-”
“HEY IMMA LET YOU FINISH BUT FIRST YOU GOTTA TASTE THE CRUST ON THIS BAGUETTE!”
I’m not saying that everything you cram into your gnashing food hole should be a transcendental experience. I understand that there are times when even the good stuff needs to take a backseat to whatever else is going on in your miserable life. I don’t expect you to take a moment to enjoy the well balanced flavors in the burrito you plucked out of the overturned street cart during day 3 of the fight for independence. I’m not saying you’re a monster for not appreciating the fragrance of perfectly aged cheese presented to you in the wine bar at which you’ve chosen to drink yourself to death to atone for your part in the failure of your 3rd marriage. Life is distracting. That being said, I would put it to you that it is trying times like those in which that attentiveness is most vital. Most resuscitory.
There’s a small paperback book in a drawer by my bed with lily pads on the cover. On each page there is a single line of wisdom from Buddhist monks. On page 112, the words “ If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
I find this quote to be particularly stirring when related to food. You tell me that any burrito will ever taste as good as the one that might be your last. You look me in the eyes and tell me you ever needed a piece of cheese worse than on the eve of your 3rd marriage (the fuck are you? Ross from Friends?) That moment to yourself could be the break in the sequence of self doubt or fear that you need to start your mutation into a better human being.
What were we thinking starting this revolution?
They’ve got us surrounded!
We never had a chance…
Oooohhhh Gahddamn that’s a good burrito
I wanna live!
Viva la Revolucion!
And just like that you’re chucking molotovs and slamming tequila in the presidential mansion… Or whatever. That moment may be all you need. That change in perspective can be invaluable. Lately, I’ve been picking up my paradigm shifts at a place called THEKOI in Tacoma.
You can find THEKOI on the corner of Commerce and S. 17th, at the foot of the Carlton Center, a building that went up in 1909 and was one of the earliest restoration projects in the Union Station Historic District. The streets aren’t paved with cobblestones anymore but you can probably still find the ghosts of cirrhosis ridden drunks from the prohibition era staggering up and down the alleys at night. Not unlike the city itself, THEKOI has had its ups and downs. It used to be TWO KOI. One of the KOI’s left and the placed closed briefly. It’s passing was felt like a gut punch in my home, as TWOKOI was one of the only places to get quality Japanese food in the area (if you ask me) and a bit of a groin kick to the local food diversity, which had not only lost a great restaurant, but one of only four, FOUR!, Sake Sommeliers in the state of Washington. My wife and I made some questionable decisions in that period of sushi limbo. Little grocery store sushi, buncha diarrhea. Some calls from my bank asking if some pretentious asshole had balled out of control with my credit card. Some homemade endeavors, (which didn’t necessarily turn out badly, but tended to be labor intensive.) When we finally found that THEKOI had reopened (sommelier and all) under its new name on Yelp, we were down there so fast and hard that Vin Diesel woke up in a cold sweat in Hollywood.
We danced through through the classily adorned seating area
to our booth by the window. Felt the early summer sunlight glancing off the green space out front, warming
us like nirvana. I placed my usual order, a chirashi bowl, and waited while the chef summoned whatever goddamn winged angel brings that perfectly crafted masterpiece in a wooden box.
This artwork cannot be eaten haphazardly. I dare you to try it. Double dog dare amidst a wave of goading “oooooh”s from my friends. Try to cram that shit in there like you don’t give a fuck. Try to Dust Buster it up aloofly. It can’t be done. Between the chopsticks and the staggering diversity of flavor in front of you, you are left with no other choice but to slow the fuck down and taste the masterpiece with which you have been presented.
The world grinds to a crawl outside the window as you individually lift each piece of fish from the bed of rice and dip it lovingly into the shoyu and wasabi. Students stand frozen at the westernmost entrance to UW Tacoma across the street as you pick out the individual flavors of each piece of fish. The fat in the salmon belly, the sweetness of the tuna. Chew that tangy rice bed as the light hangs lazily in the massive Windows of the Tacoma art museum down the way, grand and opulent like the flavors on your tongue. Ages go by in those moments. Decades.
When life finally does continue onward, and you find yourself staring into an empty box, don’t be surprised if you discover a new found understanding. Some peace and serenity. A little bit more fight, deep down at the base of you. Viva La Revolucion!
>Buddha’s Little Instruction Book by Jack Kornfield is a truly fantastic resource. I would highly suggest picking up a copy for yourself if you need a little light on a dark night.
>THEKOI on Yelp:
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