I recently spent the day with a wonderful person who I met once briefly for the first and only other time over 22 years ago. That he tracked me down and that we now find that we live only an hour apart adds to the wonderfulness of synchronicity that can come in the form of blasts from the past that morph into the motion forward of a wonderful now. We wandered in Portland and ate out at some interesting spots showcasing the plethora of unique food offered here in my home city (an NYC style Jewish Deli and a Korean BBQ made for an adventurous lunch and dinner).
I mention this story here because while R and I were visiting, we had a pretty good discussion about the experience of living swinging in the polarity of life as human beings here on earth. He mentioned that often he has had the experience of getting to be the observer of what just “is” past this swing. This is allowing the moment, and whatever is included in it, to just be what it is. This is being with awareness past the incessant labeling of right and wrong, good and bad, best and worst, etc. As one can imagine, it was a heart happy discussion.
Now on the heels of that enlightened talk of a few days ago, I find myself inspired to write a post about one of the “best” things I have ever put into my mouth! ha. Right back into the swing we dive. 🙂
It was really with the feeling of fall today and as I walked out this morning, it was the smell of apples and fallen leaves that fired off the inspiration for this post. But hang in there, because deeper I do intend to go.
Many years ago I read the book Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. In it for the first time I encountered the idea that the emotional state of the cook can be transferred into the taste and outcomes of the food that they produce. It is similar to the idea of why chocolate chip cookies baked at a Grandma’s house always taste the best, because….drum roll….they were made by Grandma with love!
Now as sappy and woo woo as this sounds, I honestly do believe that this is a real phenomenon when it comes to food. I thought about this this morning because with the fall smell in the air, it made me remember one of the best (lol) things I have ever eaten in the form of a piece of apple pie.
Now on the whole, I am not a massive apple fan and I can at times take or leave pie. However, on the first trip to any restaurant that I like based on the vibe and decor, I will usually sample something from the full spectrum of their menu just to see if the food is as good as the space itself.
The pie experience of which I speak was in Rochester, New York at the Highland Park Diner.
N and I had driven past this diner many times without going in. When we finally did, my oh my, what awaited us. As they advertised on their menu that their apple pie had won an award from Conde Nast Traveler, of course it was ordered. I am not fibbing when I say that both N and I were totally blown away. Upon requesting information about ordering a whole one to take home however, the owner graciously told us that it was not made on site, but rather by the Special Touch Bakery through The School of The Holy Childhood.
Now, my mother was a special education teacher and she taught full time from the time I was born up until I was 6 years old. So some of my first memories of “big kids” were of playing with some of the special needs teenagers in her class at school. By contrast, I remember the profound confusion and disappointment I experienced later the first time I ran up to some of the “normal” teenagers in a supermarket and had them treat me poorly…as my experience so far had been that the “big kids” were so loving and so much fun! Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time around a person with Down Syndrome will know exactly the what I mean regarding the sweetness and warmth I basked in as a little kid.
I promise you with everything that is in me, pie made by these incredible “special needs” youth at the School of the Holy Childhood blew every four star desert I have ever had away. You could taste love and joy in that pie. It was like eating the warmth, positivity and zest these beautiful beings have for life.
Their pie remains to this day, one of the best tasting things I have ever put into my mouth.
And from Like Water For Chocolate:
‘Despite the time that had passed since that evening, she remembered it perfectly: the sounds, the smells, the way her new dress had grazed the freshly waxed floor, the look Pedro gave her… That look! She had been walking to the table carrying a tray of egg-yolk candies when she first felt his hot gaze burning her skin. She turned her head, and her eyes met Pedro’s. It was then she understood how dough feels when it is plunged into boiling oil. The heat that invaded her body was so real she ws afraid she would start to bubble — her face, her stomach, her heart, her breasts, — like batter…'(16)
‘She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn’t notice that all around her something very strange was taking place. The moment they took their first bite of the cake, everyone was flooded with a great wave of longing. … But the weeping was just the first symptom of a strange intoxication — an acute attack of pain and frustration — that seized the guests and scattered them across the patio and the grounds and in the bathrooms, all of them wailing over lost love.'(39)
‘Tita knew through her own flesh how fire transforms a tortilla, how a soul that hasn’t been warmed by the fire of love is lifeless, like a useless ball of corn flour.'(67)
‘When the talk turns to eating, a subject of the greatest importance, only fools and sick men don’t give it the attention it deserves.'(156-157)
‘Something strange was going on. Tita remembered that Nacha had always said that when people argue while preparing tamales, the tamales won’t get cooked. They can be heated day after day and still stay raw, because the tamales are angry. In a case like that, you have to sing to them, which makes them happy; then they’ll cook.'(218-219)
‘She remembered then the words that John had once spoken to her: “If a strong emotion suddenly lights all the candles we carry inside ourselves, it creates a brightness that shines far beyond our normal vision and then a splendid tunnel appears that shows us the way that we forgot when we were born and call us to recover our lost divine origin. The soul longs to return to the place it came from, leaving the body lifeless”… (244-245)