One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.
– Luciano Pavarotti
I had an excellent meal tonight.
I had a fair meal tonight.
For the past few months, I’ve been watching a storefront I pass on my way to school undergo a transformation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I was able to tell what was moving in.
Life in what realtors charitably call a transitional neighborhood often brings new businesses to town.
The restaurant, called Fare, is what Chris is always saying he wants for the graduates of SLA: thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind.
I realize it’s only a restaurant, but stick with me.
Deciding to visit tonight for dinner, I checked online to be certain I could make a reservation.
Forty-five minutes after I made the reservation, I was still examining the website. Short of searching for a menu on some other eatery’s labyrinthine site, I’ve never spent so much time on a restaurant’s website.
They have a blog.
I realize we live in thoroughly modern times and many restaurants have blogs. I’m sure my dentist has a blog.
This was a blog I wanted to read.
From the second post:
When we sat down together and talked about the restaurant and concept, we approached this question from different angles. For Tim, there was only one word, Healthy. For David, there was Local, Organic, Sustainable and Crafted. For me, it was whether we would be a bar that has good food or a restaurant that has a good bar. Not as easy as you think to find agreement by a committee of three. We each hold strongly to our fundamental core beliefs but I have to say that the overlap would make Venn proud.
These were people I wanted preparing my food. Not only that, I wanted to sit with them and eat. I wanted them setting my table and sitting around it.
Plus, any Venn Diagram allusion makes me all mushy inside.
I realize a certain element of passion and thoughtfulness goes in to any restauranteuring venture. Still, there was something else.
This was a thoughtfulness with purpose.
Reading another post about the conscientious choices made in the design of the space took me to a passage from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman:
You must learn to enjoy the entire process – the hunger beforehand, the careful preparation, setting an attractive table, chewing, breathing, smelling, tasting, swallowing and the feeling of lightness and energy after the meal…When you pay attention to all these elements, you’ll begin to appreciate simple meals…
I remember the first time I read that passage. I’d been a vegetarian for over a decade, but I’d never stopped to really consider the process of eating until then.
The passage was what popped into my head when another post from Fare’s blog stated:
The food? I can’t tell you that organic is the first and most important criteria followed by local, sustainable and crafted. I fear you would think that I was pretentious if I told you that the food will be clean allowing the natural flavors to show through without disguise from rich saucing.
Tonight’s meal did just that.
No plaque on the wall explained everything I’d read on the blog. The waitresses didn’t explain the eco-friendly flooring or the house-carbonated water. Knowing it all, though, gave me pause to enjoy the experience in a way that meant more than I would expect.
The owners of Fare, the architects of tonight’s meal, changed the world tonight. They didn’t run for office or get a show on a 24-hour cable news channel. Through what I take as their passion they created a thoughtful dining experience that cares not only for the patrons but the suppliers and the food itself. In all of that, there must be much wisdom.
I see the pressure to have our students enter careers in the STEM fields. I understand that pressure.
Assuming not all my students become research scientists or biochemical engineers, I will be equally proud if they thoughtfully and caringly open up a restaurant at the end of someone else’s street.