It was undoubtedly a flex. Running down to the market just across the street, buying six oysters before the vishandel closed at 4 PM, speed-walking back to my apartment, and shucking them around 7 PM when I inevitably had to hop on a Zoom meeting during dinner hours. Did I have to shuck the oysters during the meeting? Probably not. Could I have chosen something else to eat? Most likely. There was a sense of petty rebellion, as if each bivalve slurped was a claw against the gravity tide of working for an American tech company that encroached on mealtimes (as many do). There was, also, however, a touch of romanticism. A claw against the mundanity that, if left unchecked, could cause us to wake up one day after a stream of sad desk salads going: “where have all my days gone?”
The oysters were Irish Mórs, soft, creamy, a slight hint of brine from the brackish waters they grow in. They were the type that filled your mouth from a deep cup that held plenty of liquor – both the oysters’ and the occasional mezcal-angostura bitters I’d drizzle on. On particularly heavy days, I’d go so far as to stir a Gibson martini into a Nick & Nora glass and proceed to hold the meeting as if it were perfectly normal to do so. Completely unnecessary, self-consciously pretentious, and unequivocally useless in preventing me from working those evening hours.
The meals too were a stubborn yet simple affair when takeout and microwaved leftovers would have done: creamy spaghetti sprinkled with nori, sometimes topped with crispy eggs and whatever greens were wilting from inattention in the fridge, or even white asparagus with hard-boiled eggs and those featureless button mushrooms from the supermarket. They were stubborn against both the American work ethic and the perceived ordinariness of my days.
But what of this really was ordinary? What of the carefully plated dishes that end up only half-savored during meetings was normal? What of my insisting in making cocktails in the office when we already had the free beer and kombucha requisite to the modern tech company? Perhaps it was this impractical and privileged belief that my meals had to be something other than caloric replenishment. Granita on oysters. Homemade hollandaise on asparagus. Aesthetics just as much for me as they are for mobile swiping.
There’s nothing ordinary about having food like this regularly. At least not when and where the enjoyment of meals seems to be relegated to the off hours and weekends. But in days that rarely give space for clear-eyed awe or reflection, I don’t want ordinary.
loved reading your post.
This is what I found out in your post
Great article! The writer’s description of their meals and creative approach to balancing work and pleasure is both inspiring and relatable.