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2005-06-22 - 21:13

When I was in 6th grade, I moved to Europe and lived for some time in a small town outside Amsterdam. Once a week, for about a year, we would walk down the street to a Chinese-Indonesian restaurant called Jade Garden.

It’s still my favorite restaurant of all time, and for the life of me I can’t name a single entrée I ever had there. But in the weird way that memories work I can tell you all of the things I loved about it.

We would walk in, and the proprietor would greet us each by name, and order us a round of drinks on the house. On the table would be a jar of sambol sauce, one of the spiciest and most delicious things I have ever tasted. One drop of sambol could raise the temperature of an entire bowl of chili. I put sambol on everything I ate that year, and as such was in constant need of Kleenex at the dinner table.

At the end of the meal, when you ordered dessert, they would bring you ice cream. The presentation was awesome…each person served would get a bowl of dry ice, and ice cream with a lit sparkler in it. The fog from the ice would flow over the table and down between the restaurant booths. I loved the smell.

Okay, so all this probably sounds stupid, but the truth is I really loved that place. And even though I can’t tell you anything I ever had for dinner, I can sure tell you what I had for an appetizer:

Satay chicken.

For me, having no experience in Asian cuisine at all prior to that point in my life (we’re talking 1989 here, folks), chicken satay was freaking awesome. It was made with PEANUT BUTTER. It was spicy, and peanut-y, and gave me the sniffles from all the heat, and I loved it. When I think of Europe, the first thing that comes to mind is that taste. And ever since, I’ve been looking for it again.

I’ve easily gone through a hundred bottles labeled “Thai Peanut Sauce” or variations thereof. Each time I’ve been disappointed, feeling the memory of that taste slip farther away.

Last night, I found it.

Mom, Joe, Laurie, and I went to dinner at a seafood place called Milford’s. I tried frog legs for the first time (apparently they do taste like chicken!), had a couple of Lawn Guyland iced teas, and ordered a halibut filet, which was outstanding. Laurie ordered halibut cheeks, which I at first took to be a joke. Who knew fish had cheeks? (Shut up, Erica.) Anyway, the cheeks came with a Thai coconut peanut sauce, and when I tried it, I almost shouted. Minus the coconut, the sauce was perfect. It was everything I missed about living in Holland all rolled up into one flavor. I demanded to see the chef, and he was happy to share the recipe. Someday soon I’ll make chicken kebobs simmered in peanut sauce and it’ll bring me back to one of my favorite memories of childhood.

Memories...

We form them. Keep them. Lose them. Find them again and cherish them all over again. We relive the good and the bad, the pain and the pleasure, using only scraps of sensation to keep the experiences whole. Taste, touch, smell, sound… Like the song says, sometimes it’s a sad song.

In 2 weeks I will be loading up a U-Haul truck with my earthly possessions and driving to my new home, and starting a new life and new memories. I have a new blog, with which I intend to be far more detailed in my daily chronicles, as well as posting photos galore.

Those of you wishing to follow me to my new digs need only send me an e-mail at switchcraft (I bet you couldn’t have guessed that) at the ever popular gmail dot com. Or send me an IM at Switchcraft2822.

Whether you do decide to keep reading me or not, know that I loved all of you for your support these past 4 years. Thank you for reading.

The Book of Switchcraft is closed.

 

 

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