"Oh! Sorry," a girl says, jangling open the door to OK Natural. I've got a pile on the counter of things yet to be purchased, and Jon and I are talking about vegan cookies or why his mother won't buy quinoa. Jon asks her why she's sorry and she explains, "It feels like I barged in." She wanders around the store and I tell Jon, that coming down those steps, and bursting in with the bells, it sort of always feels like barging in here. I tell him I'm feeling sick and he gives me an Umeboshi plum, and encourages me to keep drinking the sample tea, it's late in the evening and "We have to throw out what's leftover anyway." I buy a kombucha, too, and a black bean enchilada that's nondescript but filling. Jon tells me about his girlfriend, how he used to date her current roommate and her former roommate, eats blue chips behind the counter and marvels at how hot the salsa is. He goes to put some things away in the back, while Peter and the cat watch the front.
Daikon radishes, Peter tells me, when he sees me reading a macrobiotic cookbook. And tempura--have you ever had tempura? We're all afraid of fried foods here because we use low-quality oil, but not tempura. If you order it in a restaurant, they'll serve it with daikon, because it balances the oil. One time, I was on a Greyhound bus feeling very meditative, and I had to get something to eat at a rest stop. So I chose corn chips, because there were only three ingredients, corn, oil, and salt. And I was eating simply, so I ate the chips. When we got off the bus, I had to get something to cut the feeling these chips had left, and remember, I'd been so meditative, I hadn't talked to anyone one the bus. So I found red radishes in a market, and thought, daikon, radish family, and bought three bunches of them. And they did, they cut the oil.
I make a note of this to myself, half-laid out over the book. In case of oil. Drinking twig tea, my feet cold in my boots. This is what I've found a thousand times since I began thinking about food. Little rules or notions or tomatoes that have fed people before me, that feel comfortably worn when I try them on for size. Don't put cream in your coffee at night. Don't be afraid of garlic. Don't be afraid of anything, in fact, and if in being unafraid you cut the nerve in your finger, blame the dull blade and move on. If it's numb forever after that. It will be the part of you that knows most instinctively how to cook, being passed on from some old recipe.