Early Sunday morning I awoke to the sound of raindrops dancing lightly on my roof. Stretching out in bed, I thought, “perfect morning to stay in bed with a mug of coffee and a book.” My husband (a thousand blessings on his head) gets up early every morning like clockwork and starts the brewing. I hoped that this morning would be no different, and fortunately it was not. I was able to follow the trail of aroma into the kitchen, pour a steamy mugful, and return back to bed.
As I settled under the covers, I took a few sips of the rich Espresso Roast and opened to my bookmarked page in Blood, Bones and and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton, restauranteuse of the popular and critically acclaimed Prune in New York City. I didn’t realize what was in store for me as I read the next few pages. I followed along as Hamilton described the first time she entered the building that would later become Prune: (Emphasis and ellisions mine)
When I opened the door on the…walk-in refrigerator, I was hit by a blast of fetid warm air coming from decomposed lamb shanks and chicken carcasses. There were legions of living cockroaches…And yet, even with the cockroaches crawling over bread baskets and sticky bottles of Pernod, I could see that the place had immense charm. There was an antique zinc bar… that had been salvaged from a bistro in France …The floor, under all that sticky rat excreta, was laid with exact same tiny hexagonal tiles that had been on the floor of a creperie in Brittany where I had worked...I knew the space was exactly “me”….I knew exactly what and how to cook in that kind of space, I knew exactly what kind of fork we should have, I knew right away how the menu should read and how it would look handwritten, and I knew immediately, even what to call it…
I had no idea how to open a restaurant… I had never even been the sous chef of a restaurant….But once back in my apartment, I felt very nearly combustible with something I could not tamp down with any blanket of reason or logic …I doodled menus. Pulled some plates down from my own stack and set a mock table….I cranked the stereo with songs I fantasized would bust out of the speakers at my new restaurant…I sprawled on the couch in my bare feet, staring into the middle distance, and wondered how I might serve walnuts from the Perigord and a small perfect tangerine…”
As I read these pages, I recognized that the feeling Hamilton described was one which I had recently experienced. I felt this way while I was creating this blog! It felt at the time, and continues to feel tingly, exciting, familiar and yet brand-new. Above all, it feels so “me”.
So I wonder if you’d be kind enough to share an Aha! moment of your own. You know: That certain moment when you felt almost hit over the head with a recognition of something or someone so familiar, so right, so uniquely you. And when you think about it, do you get teary as I do or does something else tip you off ? Finally, do you think that recognizing these moments as “Ahas!” makes them richer?