Culinary Relationships: Redux
The rain tapping against the windows heightened the ambience, and the drops magnified the neon lights of the famous Pikes Market sign in such a way that even the chefs couldn't help but stop and gaze out the windows. Inside Matt's in the Market, the aromas of clams and other seafood intertwine with the smell of white wine and intimate conversation. Despite all this, I can’t help but think of all the memories being created at the tables around me: good ones, bad ones, and lackluster ones being recalled over a quiet dinner. As I maneuver my fingers to dig up a clam and dip it into my white wine and garlic sauce, I wonder if the person at the table next to me is experiencing the dish the same way I am, and if the conversation they’re having with their significant other is one of fear, or of regret, or of happiness. People eat to celebrate, show remorse, and share their deepest thoughts, and these emotions that we experience may seem insignificant in the moment, but they in fact echo themselves onto the dishes we eat.
Think about the last time you went out and had a meal with someone. Now think about how you felt at that moment. Was it a regretful one? Was it happy or sad? As my halibut bedazzled with chanterelles, bacon, corn broth, & herbs is put in front of me beautifully plated with flavors meticulously nurtured, I think about what kind of memory I wish to impart on it. I think about whether or not this particular memory might stray me away from enjoying this spot again (probably not), or whether it holds some other significance in the rut of things.
This is what great food does. It builds emotions. It forms layers of inescapable memories that remind you of that one moment. Some best remembered, some better off forgotten, but all experienced and felt. The night ends with a candy bar square: peanut butter nougat, salted caramel mousse, fried peanuts, and milk chocolate. Deliciously simple, yet beautifully complex, and the coup de grâce of my night.
As I stare out at the bright neon lights and watch the rain continue its course, I gaze across the bar, look down at my plate, and take a bite.