August 11, 2011

Sensory overload

....and I'm back!

Right now I may be doing the most stereotypically "Seattle" thing ever: sitting in a coffeeshop, with large windows that face a busy street. The people watching is prime, it's almost like a movie montage: couples variety, dog walkers, nervous and giddy men carrying huge bouquets of flowers, and plenty of broody artist types who act too cool for their own good.

The word the keeps popping into my head as I explore this place is "lush." By that I don't just mean the insanely huge, beautiful green trees. Or the huge bushes of periwinkle, blush pink, and white hydrangeas, the moss and fern covered rocks, or the colors bursting from the flower markets. No, "lush" applies in so many more ways than to just the greenery in Seattle.

According to the dictionary on my computer, "lush" also refers to something that is "very rich and providing great sensory pleasure." So I'm going to break it down into my five senses:

Sight: I think I just took care of that one with the description of the nature. It's vibrant, calming, and it's everywhere. And the skies are blue! Beautifully blue! I know it's grey from time to time, but I have been blessed with outrageously great weather so far. So here are a few photos for your viewing delight:

Hearing: music is everywhere. Great music sounds from nearly every street corner down by the waterfront downtown. Banjos and fiddles with bearded crooners wailing out great bluegrass, acoustic guitar players shouting out Beatles songs, and every now and then there's even an old blues singer. The music blends in beautifully to the sounds of fish mongers in the market and espresso machines screaming out their steam from the 100s of open-windowed cafes.

Touch: this one is a little trickier to fit into the "lush" theme, but I guess all the handshakes I've had count for something. Handshakes with new acquaintances, handshakes with professionals (who have careers I hope to eventually have), handshakes with potential roommates (along with handshakes of landlords I don't want to ever give rent checks to)... Yes, I think handshakes fit well into this category. Seattle certainly attracts a lush variety of people. It's alternative, but clean-cut. It's smart, safe, edgy, active... it's a place where you can be as unconventional or traditional as you like and be able to find a crowd that loves you. Obviously every city has that element, but things appear to coexist more harmoniously here. (I can tell it's getting late... that was a very Chinese-y sentence for me to write).

Smell: growing plants, coffee, and delicious food. I want to say that I smell fish, but that would be a lie because all the fish here is so fresh that it doesn't actually smell like fish... My olfactory sense went into overdrive last night when my friend and I busted out our inner Italian donne (women) and prepared the most outrageous dinner, which I will describe in...

...Taste: I had heard of heirloom tomatoes and rumor had it they were wonderful... I had no idea how great they are in real life. Their wonky shape and color doesn't accurately portray how beautiful they are to eat. In fact, after eating them I'm convinced that their unique look only adds to their deliciousness. You know how when you bite into a perfectly ripe apple or a fresh-picked cucumber or carrot, you can taste hints of the soil it was grown in and the sunshine it soaked up? The heirlooms were the most perfect mix of sunshine and soil. Ok, so I know that sounds a little "out there," but I'm pretty sure you all know what I'm talking about.

My friend and I prepared a three course meal (plus rosemary bread and oil) of barolo risotto (we used Chianti wine instead), white onions stuffed with a mix of pancetta and tomato paste, and pasta with a rustic roasted vegetable sauce. We used those wonderful tomatoes, along with four or five other fresh veggies and roasted them in the oven until they were all melty and perfect. Of course, like any good Italian meal, we had way too much food. There are leftovers in the fridge, want to have some?

So far, Seattle has been a very rich experience and has made my senses happy. Now if only it would start making my bank account happy by finally being gainfully employed...

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