Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Dinner and a Poem

Dinner and a Poem

Musica swirls around in delight
Glass vessels whisper and tink through the night
Lights of amber waltz on wood surfaces
A sprinkling of pepper…wrinkles a nose

A Dusting of Basil makes a sweet tomato glow
Mushrooms bubble… with treasures and cheese
Oils flowing free with sensuous greed…ahhh
Spicy sausage kisses kale and crème while
Onion and bacon sword fight with garlic the
Parmesan tumbles on a bed of green
A cook winks through mounds of angelic steam 
Black tea and Espresso plump the air
Lemon and coconut have an affair


Read Full Post »

Today I am just hanging out in my hotel room, not really in a sightseeing mood, and I’m feeling a little like one of those crazy writer hermit types.

My friend noticed me on line at 6:45 this morning, so she called me. What I admire about my friend is that she puts herself out there without a lot of reservation. She was talking to me about an experience she had, and she kept saying “I can’t believe I did that” and “I can’t believe I said that.” But she just keeps doing and saying anyway. I love that about her.

I am finding that when we can be totally honest about what we’re experiencing, feeling, and being in life, the right things show up, be it a friend, a movie, a place, a book, music, a piece of art.

The key is that we really have to be present for whatever is showing up and not just for the happy “ I feel so wonderful moments.” We have to be there for all of it, even the “I am not feeling so hot or good about myself” moments.

I want to share an example of what I mean by this:

The other night I wanted Italian food, so I got on line and looked up local ratings for Italian restaurants and found one in Torrance that had some pretty good reviews. I love sites like this that give us a fighting chance before we spend our money.

I thought, well, I’ll just call them and see if I can order something to go (in Italy they call it take away.) Then I thought that one of the greatest things about going to a well-reviewed Italian restaurant is the ambiance. I was not going to be able to experience that if I get “take away” food.

I have noticed while traveling on my own that it does not draw a lot of attention when I dine alone at lunch; no one seems to consider it strange or weird. But when I dine alone at dinner in a romantic setting—or any setting for that matter—I get all kinds of interesting looks. I don’t know what makes it so alarming to people.

In fact I almost did not go out that night for dinner because I was thinking that it’s not acceptable for a woman to dine in public alone during the evening. Then I asked myself “Where the f*@ck did that come from?” Did I really believe there would be cops coming after me or I would be stoned to death if I chose to eat dinner alone at a restaurant? Am I going to be a bad influence on society for eating alone in public?

That is so silly, but it was exactly what was going on in my head, and I almost did not even question it.

I punched the address into my GPS and easily found my way there. (The GPS is my new HERO! I have never had one before this trip and am definitely worshiping it.) I have been here over two weeks and had it not been for this electronic jewel that my awesome boss bought for me, I would still be trying to find my way to work and back to the hotel instead of having time to write and see some of the sights.

The restaurant was in a corner of a busy shopping complex. It had a cute little courtyard surrounded with funny looking bushes strung with white lights, cheap outdoor patio furniture with wobbling tables, and a water fountain mounted on the wall. No one was sitting outside—it could have had something to do with the heavy layer of smog that was starting to settle on the city—but the smog didn’t offend me and it was very warm out, so I asked if I could sit in the courtyard.

I chose the table right in front of the fountain and listened to it intently, while observing through the bushes the busy parking lot activity, and the strange mixture of sirens and car alarms. The voice of Frank Sinatra piped confidently through the restaurant and into the courtyard.

This little restaurant in a busy suburb of L.A. was trying its hardest to be romantic in a concrete jungle.I wanted to call it the Little Restaurant That Could! I felt a sense of connection with its status as I, too, was trying my hardest to be romantic by dining in an Italian restaurant alone in a big city, despite the age-old voice of our society yelling into my ear, “Not possible!”

An absolutely gorgeous waiter served me; he had a beautiful, authentic smile and presence. I sat sipping a glass of wine and shooing fruit flies as the sky became darker and the white lights on the little bushes became more magnificent, turning the little Italian courtyard wannabe into something beautiful.

What was interesting is that this courtyard had many of the elements I had written a few weeks earlier in a screenplay that I have been working on: one of the scenes takes place in a courtyard of an Italian restaurant:

Guests move out to the courtyard; a beautiful fountain flows; vines climb white pillars that surround the perimeter of the courtyard. Lattice-topped arbors with small white lights hover over each table. A five-man band plays Sinatra tunes.

Of course many Italian restaurants have this particular ambiance, so maybe it was not that profound an observation, but the parallel fascinated me in that moment.

As people walked up to the entrance, they did not notice me in the corner of the courtyard by the fountain. In fact, not one person turned to look at the little patio, which amazed me because the patio was the first thing that grabbed my attention.

However, when people walked out they would stop and stare at me sitting in the empty courtyard as if I were a rare exotic animal in a cage. They would turn and look at me two or three times. An older lady literally raised her eyebrows as she poked their husband’s arm and pointed me out.

I continued to sit there surrounded by the little white lights and the sound of the fountain, listening to Sinatra, sipping my wine, and feeling a little smug and dreamy about my ability to conquer the women-cannot-eat-dinner-out-alone syndrome. Or I may just have been high on the evening smog. I felt romance right there in my own presence, happy and serene while dining alone outside in the middle of a smoggy city, and I didn’t need anyone’s validation, not even my own. The moment just was, and I was in the moment.

Every once in awhile the handsome waiter would come out like a proud gatekeeper tending to the wild exotic animal in the courtyard. OK, I am not exactly exotic, but this is my story. He would sit on the table next to me and just chat, as if taking a break from the formal dining room inside. I was having fun being a spectacle of society.

Why not let ourselves experience things even if the circumstances are not exactly what we expect or perceive that they should be? It is when we put expectations on how things or people should show up in our lives that we experience disappointment. Why not meet things more often exactly for what they are?

Maybe we will find a little magic.

Read Full Post »