A perfect moment. (Yes, they happen.)

25 Jun

Friday night I tasted steamed mussels for the first time. I ordered them off the French menu, where they were spelled, “mussules” or something like that, just above the snails. I felt grown-up and sophisticated and adventurous. I didn’t, however, expect them to be good. I wasn’t sure about the sauce they came in, made of a list of French ingredients I didn’t know the translation for. But I was in Toronto with a group of friends; it was 10 p.m.; the city was pulsating; and if ever there were a time to order mussels, it was then. They arrived in a large white bowl with a cover.  I sort of peeked underneath it, unsure what I’d find. They looked attractive, inky black against the white plate and soaking in a broth of sorts. I paused a moment, breathing in the scent before I scooped one with my spoon and tasted it. It was perfect, if food can be. It was a total surprise, too. They broth was rich and buttery, with bits of tomato and onion and other flavors I could never place. Each one seemed better than the last. Meanwhile, a man plays the piano just loud enough to fill the room and make it cozy but not so much to stifle conversation. We are seated at a table close enough to the outdoors to see the crowds passing by, going either to or from the nearby jazz festival. In rare moments like these—seated in a French restaurant, surrounded by friends, eating food you never knew could be so lovely—I wonder how I ever even came upon such a moment, and why am I lucky enough to experience it? Sometimes life comes together in wonderful ways, not often when we hope it will but rather, unexpectedly. In the perfectly steamed mussel. In the blessing that are friends. In the nameless man playing the piano. I know that I could never recreate the mussels I tasted Friday night, even if I had all the right ingredients and the best recipe and all the time to get it right. They would never taste so good again without my friends on either side of me, without the French music or the people streaming outside on the sidewalk. We left the restaurant and walked back to our hotel. The jazz kept going long into the night, and the streets were still filled with people when we left them.

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2 Responses to “A perfect moment. (Yes, they happen.)”

  1. Grayquill June 26, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    WOW – when I grow up, I would sure like to be able to write like you – this piece was no less magical or crafted then the dinner and evening you enjoyed. You brought me right into the resturant with you. I enjoyed the taste, the music, the fresh air, and the friends. Wonderful post.

    • slippedink June 30, 2011 at 1:19 am #

      Thank you for your comment, Grayquill! I try to bring readers to the places I was, try to “show” rather than “tell,” so I am happy that you felt you were there in this piece. It truly was a wonderful experience. Have a great evening!

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