Log in

No account? Create an account
Your Mileage May Vary Over Time - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Your Mileage May Vary Over Time [Apr. 12th, 2004|03:27 pm]
[Current Mood |creativecreative]

As a teenager, I stood in awe of my stepmom. She owned tasteful antiques. She introduced us kids to plays. She took us to restaurants where you had to dress up.

We were out of our depth but swimming as hard as we could.

One of the places she liked to take us was a restaurant called Sweet Tibby Dunbar's. Going there was always an event. The place was chock full of antiques and had all this colonial atmosphere going for it, and the food was really good.

Looking back years later, I realized that Sweet Tibby Dunbar's was kind of a hokie, gimicky place with very down-home cooking. Not a high-class, gourmet restaurant.

I think of other nice restaurants that we were taken to by aunts and uncles, and can see now that they were all steak-and-potatoes places. The closest we got to foreign food was Chinese and German, Americanized versions of each. They were doing their best with what they knew, and we learned good manners, but there wasn't a lot of variety on the menu.

This is part of the reason I was terrified of sushi.

For years I had avoided it. It was too fishy, too seaweedy, too raw. Now? I love it. I can protest to the uninitiated, but how can you not like sushi? And yet I am still a poseur, lately introduced to the game by a friend braver and more experienced than I in the art of eating strange things. I thank him for expanding my palette. Were it not for that exposure, I might still be avoiding one of life's great pleasures.

When I was first quilting a professional quilter came to Fairbanks. As one of the exercises for her class in color and fabric usage, she had us go through some quilting magazines and pick out pictures of quilts we loved and quilts we hated. We tagged them with Post-It notes and she told us to leave them on and look at them again in another year or so. I came across those magazines close to two years later. Sure enough, the quilts that I had hated I now adored. They were subtle, asymmetrical pieces in dull Japanese fabrics whose colors had seemed both boring and harsh to me at the time. Having worked with color and fabric intensively for a period, though, I saw them with new eyes. My personal palette had expanded without me even thinking about it.

I think back to the my first few attempts at watching independent or foreign movies, or even serious movies, and how much I hated some of those films. I wonder now if I went back with many more years of film experience under my belt if I would find them accessible instead of pretentious.

This all arises from Ferrett's comments about our meal at Aureole last night. I have watched him grow from someone who appreciated a good dining experience but not a challenging and complex set of flavors to a budding cook who is fascinated with the interplay of food - judging not just whether this one taste is pleasant to the tongue but how the ingredients interact with each other. It's the same type of skillset seen in a budding ornithologist or herbologist. The mere awareness of things previously unnoticed brings them into sharp relief, and one wonders how they could have been missed before. Even a failed meal can now be pulled apart, bit by piece: why didn't this flavor work in this combination this time? I see him embrace what he used to avoid, and I am happy for him. Just as I taught myself to like and then love classical music, folk music, opera, so he is tackling vegetables, herbs, and spices, expanding his repetoire of understanding, sometimes in advance of his actual appreciation. But appreciation is coming. And it is a delight to watch.

No knowledge is wasted, no experience need leave us unmoved. Accept the challenges and grow.

[User Picture]From: rhyo
2004-04-12 08:12 pm (UTC)
I always smile when I see sushi because it reminds me of my first date with the spouse, which was... 24 years ago? (eeeee) We went to a Japanese place, I had tempura (ooo! fried shrimp! cool!) and he had sushi, mostly with sashimi. I was fascinated and repelled, simultaneously. But what really got my attention was the octopus tentacle. I'd eaten calamari before, but this was just... tentacle. With the suction cups.

Did you know that you can't make the suction cups stick to anything once the octopus is dead? 'S true, I tried to stick it to everything. The Asahi bottle, the lacquered bowls, the table, the glass lantern, the date...

And now I can make sushi, easily and well, but I skip the tentacle AND the sashimi, having read one too many articles on parasites and other things that go bump in the night.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:20 pm (UTC)
It makes sense. The suction relies on a muscular contraction - unlikely to occur when they are dead.

I've done some sashimi, but that's a little too radical for my tastes most of the time.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
2004-04-12 08:26 pm (UTC)
So much to learn, see, do, experience so little time. There are so many places I want to go, so many books I want to read.......

Do you still quilt? I've always wanted to but there never seems to be enough time, especially with kids. I'm only taking an online course this summer so I can be with my kids. Want to read some books, do a cross stitch project, and couple years worth of scrapbooking.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:22 pm (UTC)
Alas, working and going to school has killed time for hobbies. I have a number of unfinished projects waiting for attention. If I could get back into the habit fo quilting while watching TV I might get something done this summer....
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dubheach
2004-04-12 08:43 pm (UTC)

Expanding your kids

Ironically enough, what my kids hate the most is what we've been stuck eating the most: Ramen noodles, Mac & Cheese, hot dogs. However, one of the great things about where we live is a fantastic array of restaurants: Indian, Mongolian, Sushi/Japanese/Vietnamese (sorry to lump them, they DO know the difference), Cuban, Italian, True Southern,Irish and by golly I've dragged them to every one if only to give them a varied experience. Don't regret it at all. Maybe one of these days I can take them someplace VERY nice so they can expand their palate yet again.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Expanding your kids

It's something to consider asking for as a Christmas prezzie - gift certificate to a specific restaurant for the entire family - to at least take the edge off the cost....
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: crystalrowan
2004-04-12 09:03 pm (UTC)
I grew up in a military family, and we never had much money, but my mom made the attempt to expose me and my brother to classical music, jazz, opera and theater, while my dad listened to 70's rock.

Needless to say, my tastes are varied. But I honestly believe that my love of classical music has affected other areas of my music appreciation - I listen so much better, trying to hear harmonies, chords, various instruments and the roles they play in making something a better piece of music (even if it's a Pink Floyd song). :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 10:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, definitely. Everything contributes to everything else. It's great that you got the variety of experience in your youth. We gave that to our kids, too, and even when they are going through rock/rap-only phases they can still appreciate.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
From: grailquestion
2004-04-12 09:16 pm (UTC)
There is a place in North Olmsted that is supposed to have absolutely divine sushi, carefully and artfully handmade by a single sushi master. Needless to say, you could wait a long time for your order, since he doesn't have an apprentice.

I've been looking for an excuse and a free enough evening to try it...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:11 pm (UTC)
That sounds like an excellent post-finals activity, I must say. We should arrange it!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-04-12 09:41 pm (UTC)
I have tried sushi over the years.

After 20 years of trying it off and on (about every 2 years I would give it a go), I now know that I simply don't like it. I'm not a huge seafood fan in general and sushi is just about of the bottom of my list (eel is probably lower). However, I'll still try it again as I've learned that my tastes have changed over the years.

Wine is a different story. I used to not like it (beer drinker, good beer, but a beer drinker). Now I've learned to taste and appreciate it, especially paired with food. I could tell from Ferrett's write-up that he is a food person but not a wine person. Simple - he didn't talk specifically about the wine you enjoyed with the food and how well the pairings went. For me, I would have focussed on the wine.


ps - it was nice to meet you on Saturday.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:13 pm (UTC)
If we had had the 2.5+ hours for the tasting with wine pairings, I would have gone for it. As it is, I have remained pretty ignorant on wines because I am the only one who will drink it when we go out, so end up stuck with house wines by the glass.

It was great meeting you on Saturday - nothing better than terrific conversation and an amusing anecdote!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: bbwoof
2004-04-12 10:06 pm (UTC)
No knowledge is wasted, no experience need leave us unmoved. Accept the challenges and grow.

Thank you for this simple wisdom. (Isn't it amazing how often wisdom is simple?) Reading your post almost brought tears to my eyes... a symptom that I have come to recognize as reaction to Something Significant. I'm very glad that I responded to Ferrett's blandishments, and friended you.

I have added this entry to my memories; I am certain that, in time, I will want to read it again.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you. My brain is exhaustion-muddied, so it's good to know that my point was still made,.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fieryfae469
2004-04-12 11:17 pm (UTC)
MMm sushi ;)

and i like this statement of truth.

No knowledge is wasted, no experience need leave us unmoved.
Accept the challenges and grow
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I try to live by it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: apostate_96
2004-04-12 11:32 pm (UTC)

Education and Time

I'd felt something similar regarding the liberal arts requirements of my undergraduate degree. At the time, I'd figured most of it was just the University scheming to squeeze more money from students, with no benefit to us other than getting the checks on the sheet so that we could finally get the damned degree and go! There were some classes I definitely did not appreciate at the time.

One of them was the one semester of Latin I took. While I never really learned enough to even begin to speak or write in it (aside from a couple memorized words and phrases), the understanding of the words and how they've helped form the roots of our own language has been invaluable to me. That's especially valuable for working in a field where communication with others is such a critical component of what I do. The same holds true for my Dad sharing some of the Zen Buddhism he was interested in when my brother and I were kids. At the time, I liked getting to laugh at the funny stories. Now, however, the ideas are ones that I cherish and at least try to live by.

The only thing I'd contend with is "No knowledge is wasted." That's only true if we stay open to what it may be and what we may learn from it as our own awareness and understanding change. If we stay closed off, then it becomes stale and almost pointless. And it saddens me every time I see that.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-12 11:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Education and Time

Perhaps I should have said "It's never a waste to learn something." Certainly one can waste the knowledge one has, but when I hear people saying "I'll never use that," I can only think: A) That's not the point of learning, and B) You'd be surprised where things come in handy.

A good liberal arts education, particularly one that teaches you to write, is invaluable.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: ladymeshel
2004-04-13 12:07 am (UTC)
This was perfectly written. You should be a writer, not a lawyer *smile*. I feel the same way...I change SO much from year to year. I grow older and I appreciate things I downright HATED. Like Sushi. If I had to live on one food alone it would now be sushi, hard to believe it was something I couldn't even swallow once upon a time. Sadly, sushi in San Francisco has ruined me for our Midwest variety now. I still enjoy it, but not as much as I did before I knew it could be BETTER.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-13 02:12 am (UTC)
I guess I should be grateful not to have experienced San Francisco sushi then. I know my kids can barely stand to eat seafood off the Cape now.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: call_me_harmony
2004-04-13 09:35 am (UTC)
"No knowledge is wasted, no experience need leave us unmoved. Accept the challenges and grow."

True, I will probarbly never use my degree for the purpose that I applied to start it for but I learned so much during the process of gaining it. I had intended to become a probation office, but then found out that my daughter had been abused and there was no way I could ever risk working with pedophiles, my ability to see the person not the crime had been compromised in that area.

More than anything in the learning process I learned about me. I also gained a better understanding of other people. Some skills and knowledge that were gained will stay with me for life and for that I am grateful.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-13 01:23 pm (UTC)
I have tapped into almost everything I have ever learned, for one purpose or another. You will be amazed at where things come in handy.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2004-04-13 01:58 pm (UTC)
It must just be something about East Tennessee. In a place where it is not only legal, but encouraged to pick up and eat what you hit with your truck, it is also impossible to get good sushi.

I'm assuming. Or else, I just don't like sushi much. But I'd like to think that it's not me. I did enjoy the barbecued eel, though.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-13 02:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I would not call your locale the sushi capital of the world. There are places where I won't touch it, either.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)