Monday, November 26

zen rice & beans

When I owned my store many of our customers were unfamiliar with our side of town. So when they asked for a good place to eat I grabbed a menu from Steve's off the corkboard and stuffed it in their hands. Steve's is a cozy family run neighborhood restaurant tucked inside a neighborhood bar. They make their own blend of Tex-Mex style food - homemade and from fresh ingredients. They make their own fresh salsa. Their food is affordable and ridiculously good. Their menu is small. I mean small. They have one dessert - lime cheesecake that the owner's mom makes. It sounds perfect, right?

So imagine my surprise when one of those lost and hungry customers crinkled her nose and made a face, as if I'd suggested she eat poop.

"Oh no" she said. "I don't eat that weird food."

I responded, as casually as I could muster: "Ohhhhh, I guess I don't think of it as weird since most of the world eats rice and beans." (Yes, perhaps that passive snarkiness is why I don't have a store any more, but I'm certain that's a topic for another time.)

This memory got stirred up by today's lunch. I made the best rice and beans ever. I tossed some rice in the rice cooker and whipped up some black beans. I made them kind of dry, with minced onions and garlic, cumin, turmeric, red pepper flakes, heaps of black pepper. I crushed them some at the end, ala refried beans, and ate some on the rice, topped with slender slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese and washed down with a glass of orange juice. But still, it was just rice and beans. How could they be the best ones ever? Especially since I've thought this before. Are these better than the other best ones?

Then I promptly laughed at myself. Because last week I finished a dress and said "This is the best dress I've ever made!" And, yes, I've thought this before. Maybe I'm just overly impressed with my own handiwork? I think there's more to it. I think when you're on a creative path this is just part of the way things cycle around. I could make nothing but dresses for the rest of my life and no two would be exactly the same and every once in a while I'd hold one up and yell "Best one ever!" Just like the rice and beans.

This is hopeful to me. It means I can have a life of never-ending adventure just in my sewing room, kitchen, and brain. It means I can look up from my work once in a while and attach silly labels to it - and laugh knowing that the path of my work is always way bigger than any one thing I make. The path of my work really is the best thing ever.