Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Last Milky Way

Jesus knew that last meals were important, after all his bread and wine supper has been immortalized--and even survived through America's Prohibition. Today was a sad day. My favorite restaurant in Boise is closing. (Admittedly, I'm biased because my husband works there, and I used to work for Mitch and Andrea as well at their other restaurant.) So, today I went in for my last Milky Way meal.

Perhaps I am too nostalgic for my own good and imbued this meal with too much ceremony. I started with oysters on the half shell with a mignonette sauce simple because I don't remember a meal I've eaten at the Milky Way without oysters. I had the lamb sandwich drenched in the perfect amount of tomato and red onion chutney on a thick slab of fresh-baked rosemary foccacia. (Thank you for baking the delicious bread, Pat.) I also had my last taste of Milky's signature creamy, tomato basil soup. Tangy with Parmesan cheese, yet sweet with the essence of roasted tomatoes.

When Kent comes home tonight, he's promised to bring me a fat slice of chocolate chip bread pudding--which just makes my taste buds melt thinking about it.

As I dined today, I tried to soak it all in. (I did not unfortunately have the foresight to take my camera--so there is no photo documentation.) The only abnormal thing was the local news channel crews, accosting diners as they left. Asking the owners for yet another, teary explanation of why they restaurant is closing. I was annoyed that this loss was breaking news. Honestly, it felt to me like a wake where everyone is trying especially hard to just act normal. Yet, when I was asked for an interview, I didn't hesitate. It wasn't a fifteen minutes of fame thing. (That's what blogs are for, right? Shameless self promotion. Ha!) I wanted the world (Okay maybe just the Treasure Valley) to realize that this is a really crappy thing that's happening because several dozens of people are losing their livelihood. Thousands of Boiseans will never taste the Milky Way's conceptual fusion of Idaho comfort food cooked with French culinary execution. Many, many things will be sorely missed from their menu. This food will be EXTINCT. It will never exist again in quite the same way.

I've been thinking a lot about good-byes. Soon Kent and I will be saying good-bye to Boise entirely. He's going to pursue a PhD, and we'll be moving away from the land of potatoes and back to Midwestern cornfields.

When we left Omaha two years ago, we were ready for something new. But, now I can't say that. I don't feel like I've sopped up enough experience here, nor drank my Boise life to the dregs. These last few months in Idaho will be more reflective. I'll look harder to notice things, I taste everything a little deeper, and I'll strive to give it meaning. Significance. Living life well is paying attention to every sensory detail of being alive, from the first spear of spring asparagus to the way the afternoon sun dances across my kitchen table.

And, of course, now that Kent, Mattie, and Henry (our two cats) are all unemployed waifs, I'll be experimenting with ways to cook exceptionally on an exceptionally tight budget. Stay tuned for cheap and delicious recipes.

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