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.

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