Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Strawberry Epiphany

Strawberries in Tuscany
I realize that this is a blog about swigs (drinks) and grinds (food) and I haven't been talking much about that lately. However, this is also a blog about the things we laugh at and chew on along the way. Both literally and metaphorically. 
And sometimes the literal and the metaphorical meet over a cocktail or a bite to eat and THAT is where epiphanies happen.

noun . epiph.a.ny . i-pi-fe-nee
a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

Here's what I've always heard about Italy
The food is fresher, the ingredients are better, they understand their ingredients and they coax them into their finest forms, they savor, appreciate, indulge
Everything just tastes better.

That's what I had heard anyway. 
So that was my expectation.
I believed that was what eating in Italy would be like. 

Well, it's freakin true. All of it. I knew it!! I actually proclaimed that sentence several times during our travels. 
I freakin knew it
I was angry and ecstatic at the same time. Ecstatic because I was there. I was eating the most beautiful, simple, thoughtful food and I was angry because I thought I was ruined.

How could I go back to the United States and eat another tomato that is pink and mushy instead of bright red and tastes the way it smells? How could I walk through another supermarket when I have seen the produce in the markets in Pisa, or the meat and cheese shops in the Campo di Fiore?
Market in Pisa, Italy
Ruggeri Salsamentaria - Vini Liquori. Rome, Italy
Norcineria Viola. Rome Italy

The first time I talked to my daughter on the phone she asked me, "So what's the BEST thing that you've eaten?!" (Only my kid...)
And I thought about all of the amazing things that I had devoured and I said, 
"A strawberry".
And she asked, confused, "Well what was on it?"
"Nothing", I said.
"Well what was it IN?", she asked. 
"Nothing", was the answer I had while having my first ever strawberry epiphany.

My strawberry epiphany was the moment in which I suddenly understood food in a new or very clear way.
This is what food is supposed to be. Its SUPPOSED to taste like you just plucked it from your very own garden.
It's supposed to be made by a pair of hands that know where it came from and have made it with care. It's supposed to give you a connection with the person who made it and the person who sold it to you and the person you share it with and the place where you are sitting. 

And then I realized I wasn't ruined at all. I was enhanced and awakened to a deeper love of the process. 
And then I realized I was coming home to Hawaii.
 To a place with a love and appreciation for food.
To my own cafe. To my own life where I have the pair of hands that makes the food with care, I have a connection with the person who sold it to me, I will pick it from my very own garden, and I cherish the people I share it with and the places we sit together. 

And this, kids, is my epiphany. 
Italians are doing everything right in my book and so can we
We just need to pay attention and find the best of what we have and act like and eat like, "when in Rome"...
Even if we are oceans away and Italy is only our dream.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Love Your Face

"Mi piace la tua el faccia"
Cheat sheet

I have been a photographer my whole adult life. I have photographed thousands of people. I have found it so easy and fulfilling to photograph children, but adults are usually a little trickier. However I am always confident that I will get the shot. Part of the reason is that I have mad connecting-with-other-people skills. I really do. But one of the ways I am able to make a connection with someone is by talking with them.  

When I first landed in Italy, I instantly fell in love a hundred times before I even left the airport. But not with another person, necessarily but with the language tumbling off their tongues, with their fashionable outfits, with their architecture, with their laid back rules, with their appreciation of everything beautiful, with their food, drink, way of life and their FACES. 
I knew right away that my first sentence I needed to learn was going to be, "I love your face".

Fast forward to a beautiful afternoon in Pisa, my eyes bulging from the beauty, my jaw dragging on the ground, my words not even coming out right in English because I was so speechless by the things I was seeing. I was focusing my camera down a spectacular street across from the tower to get this shot:
Then I noticed the two guys waving at me in the doorway, so of course I had to go make friends. Before I knew it a group of them had gathered in the door and I needed to tell them that I loved their faces!

   Luckily one of them spoke a little English and translated my sentence for me while the others flirted and surely thought I was a crazy American girl while I photographed them. 
And so I learned my only Italian sentence:
"Mi Piace la tua el faccia".

And another thing I learned was:
Adults love to hear that you love their face. 
Every person who heard those words from me beamed. They laughed at my poorly pronounced Italian, they blushed a little, got a sparkle in their eye and I got the shot. 

Here are some of my favorite faces from my journey:
  And one more thing that I learned from speaking 
my new sentence: 
I need to keep using it. I want to continue to see into the faces that I pass in the street or interact with during the day. I want them to know that I love their face. I want to give them the same smile and sparkle in their eye and a little boost of love to carry them on their way.
Hey you
I love your face.
Pass it on...

quote of the day:

“His dress told her nothing, but his face told her things which she was glad to know".
A.A. Milne

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I'm having this dream...

Central Park NYC - 3.2015

I'm having this dream. It begins like any other day. I kiss the faces of my three amazing children, I am kissed by an amazing man that has fallen out of the sky and into my cafe and my life. I work, I feed people, I make art, I make connections. I am fed by nature and love. Things are good and pretty simple and a lot of fun. It is always warm and there is always someone around to laugh with. A dog sleeps next to me in my mushy, comfy bed. Life is really really good. And still I know that there is a whole world out there full of even more of the same goodness that already fills every day of my life. I know that I have a hunger for it. I know that from somewhere deep within me, I have a craving, a calling, an itch, a need
And here's where the dream gets crazy...
I'm on the streets of New York City. The wind claws through the layers of sweaters, jackets and scarves and bites down on skin, heart, blood. But not viciously - it's a sexy bite meant to say: You are alive, flesh, blood, bone. My eyes seem to open wider and I actually see more. I look into the endless river of faces that flow past me on these frozen streets and I see them. Our eyes are not supposed to meet - some rule I heard about long ago - but they do anyway. And I see humanity, a story, a life being lived. And then they are gone, floating away on their own path. More flow to me. Old, young, angry, busy, fancy, important, insecure, confident, young, old, young, old...
And I am cold. But the cold on my skin makes me know that I am very, very alive. And then I realize that I have walked all the way to Times Square, where everything is larger than life. TV's on the sides of buildings broadcast 100 foot tall images: faces, products, places. They flash in an endless reel of lights and colors. Below, cops congregate on the corner, protestors gather for peace, steam rises from below the streets. People continue to rush from here to there, there to here. And I stop for a glass of whiskey
And then suddenly I am in Central Park and everything is this amazing stark palette of white and grey and brown. There is snow everywhere and none of the trees have their leaves. Their branches like arms spread to the heavens. And I am there in the midst of this whole other world. I walk and walk and walk and I am wide open, and it fills me and some of it spills out of my eyes because I simply can't contain it. There is too much love to keep it all in. There are words of appreciation and birthday wishes and praise and well wishes that have also been poured into me and I am this vessel that begins to overflow right there in Central Park.
And then I realize that I am not alone. The man that kisses my face has led me here. I see him walking next to me for blocks and blocks past rows and rows of buildings and stores and the endless sea of people and I feel like it's all for me and I can't figure out why. I spend a lot of the dream somewhere between being completely in the moment, to watching it all from a distance. I feel incredibly connected but equally far away. 
And then I wake up.
The wind is raging outside my window and I can tell that the air outside of my heavy blankets is cold. The shutters bang quietly inside but somewhere outside things crash in the wind. I step out of bed and my bare feet touch the cold stone floor of a castle in Italy, on the hillside in Tuscany. I stumble around trying to find a light. I layer on shawls and scarves and walk out into my quarters. There is an unfinished bottle of chianti on the counter, a row of white espresso cups line an antique hutch and the wind continues to rage in the courtyard. 
I pull out my journal and write about driving too fast down ancient streets of Florence, eating fresh pasta recommended by a waiter named Rafaele and feeling the rain coming down from the Italian sky. And I realize It's only been one day. The dream is my reality. I breathe in the cold air and I exhale a breath of pure life. I am filled with gratitude like I have never known. Thankful for all that exists in my world and the world that I walk through. Thankful for the arm that hooks into mine and leads me through streets and adventures. I decide to absorb every moment of this dream and we set out to dickwolf Italy...
Castle Rooftop - Tuscany Italy - 3.2015

Castle Rooftop - Tuscany Italy - 3.2015