Monday, January 22, 2018

saving the airfare to paris

The owner of Maxim's once looked out over the sea of  bejewelled patrons and remarked to his maître d’hôtel: "Isn't our restaurant lovely tonight?"

I thought of that sentiment tonight at Magnolia's in La Manzanilla.

Of course, La Manzanilla is not Paris. But Magnolia's is Maxim's -- in its own way. 

The place was filled with customers enjoying one of the best eateries in this part of Mexico. Smiling. Laughing. Exchanging life with one another over plates of grilled pork chops, peanut-encrusted dorado, and a shrimp and sausage combination with its roots well to the south. And, of course, the soy-blistered green beans. Always the soy-blistered green beans.

Even if the food was not as good as it is, I would go there just to talk with the owner-chef. Alex Mayberry has become a food friend. We love to share our mutual experiences at our stoves. Especially, our umami moments. Like her soy-blistered green beans.

On Monday nights, I usually accompany my friends Ed and Roxane to Magnolia's. Tonight it was my family. They have eaten there before -- and have thoroughly enjoyed Alex and her creations.

Tonight was no different. Because the place was Maxim's-busy, Alex did not have the luxury of spending much time with us. Instead, she did her magic with our meals.

But we had plenty to talk about. The four of us have a cartful of memories that have become bittersweet with time. But we re-stock them with the treacle of new good times. And tonight was one.

There is a reason we enjoy our families in ways that we can never enjoy friends and acquaintances -- even close friends. Maybe that is the reason that those who try to stamp out tribalism will always be stymied by reality. It appears that is how we are built. For better or worse.

And like most of life's activities that get labeled with the "for better or worse" cliché, we can often choose which road to walk down.

Tonight was easy.

I cannot think of how the night could have been better.

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