Friday, January 20, 2006


I am a mimic. I was trained for acting. At a young age, I learned to take it in. I pick up accents in a hand-snap, and lose them just as quick. I collect verbal tics. I change my handwriting and my walk every few years, my hair, monthly.

I can be anything. I want to learn. I want to know more, and I've been lucky in that everyone I've loved has taught me something, and not just never date a poet (though that, friends, is an important lesson). I've learned practical things like: how to read a map, and the names of good movies. Love itself is a gift, of course, but it's nice when it comes with benefits.

My love now teaches me how to live, how to feel calmer, how to drink tea, how to sleep, how to run.

The best thing about love is though the specifics sometimes go away or get mean or marry other people, the lessons stay with you.

My second love taught me how to taste.

Before I met him, I had never tried sushi or any ethic food other than Ohio Mexican or Ohio Chinese. More than that, he taught me I could taste, that I always had it in me, that good food doesn't have to mean expensive or intimidating or fancy or neat. That if you like it, it's good. I like spaghetti squash with onion salt. I like pasta with peas and cheese. I like a really good, sloppy burger. And oh my god, french fries with mayo.

I am not the best cook. I try to be, and I can do some things like pies and cookies and soups, but I don't have the gift. I don't like to measure, and where I deviate, there lies disaster. But I can taste anything, and tell you the spices that are in it, and maybe what's missing. I can taste wine I have never heard of, and tell you what it recalls.

It's about smell, and it's about imagination, and it's about not being afraid. I don't like roller coasters. I have vertigo on the ground, but I get chills remembering the first time I tried caviar or raw oysters or red velvet cake or a quail egg. I pay my bills on time. I don't have any piercings. I take risks on my tongue.

He taught me how to be not afraid, and for that, I am grateful-not only as an approach to food, but where food is served, how not to judge a restaurant by its neighborhood. The best sushi in the world is Yokohama in Wheaton, Maryland. The best wonton soup is Hong Kong in Gettysburg. The best foie gras is Spring in Chicago.

Here I am, in the one of the restaurant capitals of the country, and I am not easily impressed. I've yet to taste anything new. I want to find beauty in a backyard. I want the unassuming, the hidden, the real. I remember tuna on the frozen shore of Easton, pad thai on the long car ride home from the airport. I remember when the cook herself came out to serve the duck (rare) because she wanted to see: the girl who knows how to taste.