My flight home is delayed – an hour for now…looks like I’m getting all my travel karma at the end of the trip. That’s fine with me.
The main theme of this trip was family, and those stories I didn’t share here. And I probably won’t. But another theme was places within places.
Although I cannot afford to travel as often or as far as I’d like, I can try to expand a single trip into a multicultural, or at least multi place experience. I realized this as I entered a health food store at the beginning of my sojourn. The scent of spices and foods from home transformed an unfamiliar neighborhood into the familiar.
Later we went to dinner at the North Shore Poke Bowl I walked right into Hawaii. Despite an earlier lunch at a restaurant chain trying to be Hawaiian – full of palm thatching and tropical decor, I was clear where I was. But when I stepped into the Poke Bowl, I could easily believe I was elsewhere. Tropical. Laid back. And friendly.
It was in a store-front on a quiet side street, with fluorescent lights and ceiling fans whirring. The order counter at the back was bookended with refrigerator displays full of Hawaiian ice tea and soda as well as coke. The offerings were rice (two kinds, brown & white) and raw fish (two kinds, tuna & salmon) with a variety of toppings and sauces all thrown into a bowl, which wasn’t a bowl but a clear plastic to-go type container. When ordering, Evette the counter person, would tell you what you should or shouldn’t order. When my turn came I submitted wholly to her judgement and ended up with a fantastic pile of fish and rice and macadamia nut/cucumber/avocado/mayo/suracha goodness. Sitting inside at our formica table, with the overhead lights flickering and the lazy fans stirring warm air I truly felt as if I were on the islands.
Then there was the English Pub complete with English waitress. While my brother’s band belted out tunes I enjoyed my Guinness and basket of chips and checked out the decor. Every possible holiday decoration was taped, tacked and painted everywhere – the cozy bar was filled with lights, bulbs, holly and even had a portrait of Her Majesty in the loo. But this pirate stole the scene.
Now waiting for my flight, I grab a quick Japanese breakfast: Veggie Udon. I have no idea what it’ll be like until I’m handed a bowl brimming with vegetables and broth. The noodles are huge and thick and very filling. The vegetables are perfectly cooked al dente. And as I stir it all up with my chopsticks, I meet a new food: enokitake. They are so surprising I have to look up what they are.
I love them. They are delicate yet tough and unexpected and weird.
But I don’t like to eat them.