In my last entry I described a dish I made this week, Tikka Masala. It’s an Indian dish with a rich blend of flavors. As I stirred in the spices to the simmering onions and tomato paste and waved my hand over the pan and towards my nostrils just like I’ve seen chefs do on The Food Network, I sighed, “Ahhhh”. Already the meal was satisfying. And later when we ate it, we sighed again and commented on the complexity and the surprises in this exotic dish.
But if I go out to dinner in this tiny Montana town, “The steak (chop, fish, chicken) comes with either a baked potato or “our vegetable medley.” The vegetable medley is so bland that I can hardly tell you what’s in it. I think it’s got some zucchini, carrots, and those odd tasteless things with the odd texture, the sugar snap pea. The spice is butter with a little salt. Ho hum.
It came to me the other night that the “vegetable medley” is the apt description for the people that inhabit this place. Having lived in New York City for over fifteen years with its rich blend of peoples, I often long for the sound of foreign accents, strange headgear, and different skin tones.
There is some satisfaction here in conformity and the sameness of even the vegetables with your entree. There is comfort in the same Parmesan cream sauce over penne and the cream of mushroom soup. The ideas and the conversation can be much like that bowl of soup or that vegetable medley; a little weather conversation and concern about rain mixed with news of old Sally tripping over a frozen cowpie and breaking her hip while sorting cows.
When I long to talk about the protests in Taksim Square or the NSA spying crimes, I bite my tongue and talk of how to make the perfect Manhattan or why Hendriks gin is better than Bombay sapphire as an alternative to the endless discussions of drought and how the tomatoes are growing. Instead of talking about Booz Allen Hamilton, I talk just booze.
Fortunately with summer comes the summer tourists. Every once in awhile somebody slightly more like Tikka Masala than Vegetable Medley comes through the door and we engage in asking questions about each others’ countries and customs. I savor these conversations like I do a good Chimichurri sauce accompanying my flank steak.