Omakase is a Japanese word that means to entrust. As in, I leave it upto you.
It’s a culinary tradition wherein the chef chooses the courses based on what is inspiring to him or her.
Entrusting someone is hard work. It’s casting aside all your cares and worries and believing that the person you’ve entrusted will at least meet your expectations, if not surpass them.
A week after one of the worst elections in my lifetime, if not US history, my friend Aaron put together an Omakase gathering for sixteen guests.
When my wife and I arrived, Aaron made some introductions and then asked if we wanted to sit with people we had never met before.
“Cuz I know that’s really hard for you, Tim,” Aaron said.
Normally I thrive on that. I love hearing new stories.
But tonight was different. I was in a funk all day and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed with a book or a show and escape my thoughts for a while.
I sat across from Ricardo, a man of Palestinian descent with wonderful stories about his grandmother’s cooking.
As the food was delivered in small, decorative trays, I listened to the conversations going on around me.
Small, kind words fluttered around my ears, easy smiles and laughter filled me up.
We tasted through a squid salad and sipped our sake and poured more for our new friends and our old friends and those in-between friends we tend to call acquaintances.
We all marveled at the artful presentations in front of us and discovered new things together.
Someone didn’t like the look of something and wouldn’t eat it. I found myself being slightly judgmental, before I remembered that I’m going to try to fight that feeling now in this new world.
We tried to figure out how to eat the tempura prawn heads antennae-first, or the opposite and laughed when someone said, “But the eyes are looking at me.”
Tonight was a microcosm of how I want to live my life right now.
Yes, I was a little uncomfortable meeting new people at first. But then you warm up when a story gets told that gives you a reason to tell one of your stories.
I want to eat with strangers and try new foods and stretch myself to understand viewpoints that I don’t currently understand.
I want to hear stories that make me understand what it feels like in someone else’s skin.
Jokes were told, humor just bubbled up from somewhere deep inside. These are good things that come from gathering with others around good food and strong drink.
The popular sentiment is to wish to buy the world a Coke and teach them to sing.
It’s hard to eat a meal across from someone and hate them all the way through.
Thanks Aaron for constantly reminding me of the good in this world. Especially the good food.