January 2, 2009

Oh, Seattle. I wish I could taste you.

My first cup of coffee in Seattle was perfect. Nutty, strong, and black. It was doubled with a perusal of my recently purchased Seattle guidebook (thanks for the Christmas money that bought this, grandma). While I'm here for another two weeks, this was the first and last thing I've had the pleasure of consuming. The most unimaginable, abominable, atrocious thing happened to me my first day in Seattle - I lost my sense of taste. I lost my sense of taste. Something makes me think that the holiday goodies have gotten the best of me by weakening my immune system, another part of me blames the blasted -6 degree Minnesota winter I left with great anxiousness. And you'd think a foodie would know how to treat something like this. Ginger? Tried it. Pickled onions? Yup. Wasaabi? You betcha, alot of it. All with no avail.

Now I don't know about you, but when I travel, I plan my itinerary around my palette, around which places I want to eat out at. I had a grand list thanks to Molly and tonight we had dinner plans for the Boat Street Cafe. I thought my taste would come to its senses mid-afternoon and decide to join me for dinner. Turns out I was wrong and that its absence made even a pear, a food I most adore, look disgusting. So, what's a girl to do with one of her most cherished senses?

Make a bag, that's what. As my friend and I were packing for Portland tonight, she pulled out a bag she had recently bought at a farmers' market in Minnesota where she was doing a cookbook tour. This bag was made out of recycled vinyl from billboards. 'Drive-By Bags' takes recycled billboards, double washes them, attaches a strap, turning them into graphically appealing and unique bags and saving them from spending forever in a landfill. Hers in particular was from a Miller Beer billboard. It was an unusual neon yellow with red circles (for the fizz) which made me wonder how much different the actual color must be in order for the correct color appearance for a street viewer.

Of course, making a vinyl bag will not make my cold go away or my taster come back. Maybe if the billboard was for Airborne. But this bag made me think about using what one has readily accessible (like my other senses) and extracting as much beauty out of it as possible. Using what one considers trash in order to create a treasure. It's like using all the vegetable skins, greens stems, potato peels, onion ends to make a soup stock. Quite humble beginnings for an outcome that can transform a dish. Because I've lost my taste, I have no choice but to focus and appreciate more my tense of touch, vision, and hearing. As I am currently reading Diane Ackerman's 'A Natural History of the Senses' she explores how to heighten the experiences of our other senses. So, for the remainder of the trip, while crossing my fingers that Mr. Taster visits me before I leave Seattle, I have decided to take this seemingly awful situation, like the awful old billboard vinyl sitting in the landfill, and make a unique bag. A bag which contains experiences of beautiful sights, memorable touches, and unforgettable music.

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