Prompt 171: World-Class Foodie Birthday
[Note: I skipped a bunch of prompts related to the Suburbs because I found the topic detestable and boring in equal measure. I pick up with the "Restaurants" category.]
171. You have been given the choice to attend any restaurant in the world for your next birthday with all expenses paid. Describe how you go about making your decision. Which restaurant do you choose and why? Is your dining choice as exciting as you'd hoped?
Say what you will about the French, but it's clear that if you want anything in terms of a world-class food experience, it's the place to be. Never been to France yet myself, and it's doubtful I will ever be there. However, in the imaginary world of this writing prompt, I'd head to Paris, France, for this one. Plan B would be Japan, and I'll write about that too.
I'm tempted to say that this would be a buffet dining affair, but that just might cheapen the experience. In Paris, I would want the best series of pies. I'd have savory and sweet pies to choose from, ranging from fake-meat-meat pies to of course blueberry pie, cherry pie, and sweet potato pie. I would ask the chef to serve me their favourite vegan pastry.
I can imagine this now... I'm dining alone, seated in a reserved corner booth with a rich, plush, maroon cushioned booth bench. There's lots of mirrors, chandeliers, candelabras, and crystal finery surrounding me. The table is oblong and covered with an ivory satin tablecloth. Every square inch of the table is occupied with either my eating utensils or metal trays with all those pies and pastries.
I'll tuck my hanky in under my chin, ask for a coffee or herbal tea, then dig in. I move my way clockwise round the table, tasting each one, occasionally finding something to finish completely. I will continue until I pass out in that lovely, cushy booth seat. They'll wheel me out in a stretcher and I'll be only partially conscious as I wave goodbye to my new friend, the pastry chef.
Failing the trip to France, I'll head to Japan. Years ago, I found my favorite non-meat dish: yuba. To make it, you boil soybeans and skim off the film from the surface. With that, you either wrap it up in a roll or fold it, then cut it into thicker strips.
For this meal, I'd like to try all manner of yuba, hot and cold. The restaurant would permit me to make it myself, and I'd observe the entire process. I'd also want to try various sauces along with it. I'd rinse it all down with a liter or two of bubble tea, extra bubbles.
Though this isn't as decadent an experience as my French scenario above, I'd appreciate it much more for its cultural aspects. Japanese cuisine has a tremendous deal more culture and ritual compared to what I'm used to, and so I'd feast on the environment as much as the food. Hopefully a translator there would be willing to help me understand all there was to know about yuba-making, the history of the restaurant and the section of town it was in.
The first time I'd had yuba was at an out-of-place restaurant in the east-coast town where I used to live. Every time I went there, I was with a woman, and it was a fantastic experience. The restaurant's vegetarian options were of such high regard that they had a separate menu just for the available "meat alternatives." Yuba was there, as was seitan, "veggie nuggets" (which were chunks of some kind of blended soy and TVP), and of course tofu.
These days, were I to regularly eat anything on that menu, it would likely be seitan. That's a wheat gluten product, as opposed to soy. Since moving out here to the eco-institute, I've learned that Monsanto has somehow acquired the "patent on soy." So soybeans and soy-based foods like soymilk are actually not permitted here. We're not allowed to grow them.
That being the case, I've had to bid farewell to my beloved yuba. However, were I to travel to Japan for my birthday I would most definitely gorge on yuba in all its varieties. The occasion would also be an opportunity to soak up as much Japanese cuisine and culture as possible. I'd likely be alone for this occasion as well, with the exception of a translator.
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