Blind Date with A Salad Plate


  • Author Monica Bastola
  • Published September 25, 2023
  • Word count 927

I found myself perched on a table, awaiting my blind date. Five minutes past the hour, it became evident that my date was running late. I sympathized with the server, who diligently checked in every two minutes, inquiring if I wanted more than just water. Repeatedly, I declined his offers. However, as the clock struck the ten-minute mark, a sense of guilt settled in. I knew deep down that my date wasn't going to show up, at which point I decided to order a salad from the menu.

Around ten minutes in, the purpose of my presence there as part of a date began to fade from my mind. My anticipation was now centered around satiating my ravenous stomach – a hunger that seemed to echo as though I hadn't eaten in ages. The level of excitement I felt was surprising, going beyond mere hunger and hinting at something more profound. The chef approached with the covered plate and shared, "I've prepared a collection of 'things' for you to uncover yourself. Since your date was meant to be a blind experience, I decided to make this plate a playful treasure hunt." The plate had an odd weight to it, a curious blend of lightness and density that was hard to articulate. The arrival of the salad plate, masked under a cover – the irony of a "blind tasting of salad" on a night when my blind date had stood me up was not lost on me. Nonetheless, my excitement for this unexpected twist remained unchanged.

With the blindfold gently secured in place, I found myself immersed in a world of darkness, contrasting with the vibrant atmosphere of the restaurant around me.. The playful challenge set before me brought a smile to my lips, turning what could have been a disappointing evening into an intriguing adventure.

With my first bite, the salad greens greeted me with their bitter and briny notes, while my final mouthful seemed to carry the essence of candied pecans. I could taste spinach, romaine and watercress all in one bite. Transitioning to the second bite, the arugula contributed a peppery kick and complemented by the natural sweetness of red peppers. During the third trip into the plate, my fork encountered what I initially mistook for a sour tomato, but turned out to be an olive – a burst of tanginess accompanied by a touch of pungent gorgonzola. And just as I thought the journey was over with gorgonzola, shaved parmesan revealed itself at the end.

Throughout this experience, my taste buds danced with anticipation at every turn. Without the visual aspect, my sense of smell took the lead, and I could discern the ripe balsamic aroma in each bite. The earthiness of beets brought a tingling sensation, as if my tongue was turning ruby red, and my senses were heightened as the nutrients from each element engaged my body. It was as though I was rediscovering the art of tasting, my palate awoken to the nuances of each ingredient. Never had I given such attention to the brainy texture of walnuts, or the delightful interplay of blueberries and pears with the pungent cheese. The usual deliciousness of this combination took on an almost ethereal quality that day. My palate had transformed into a hypersensitive instrument, capturing every bit of bitterness from the radicchio and the fiery kick from each speck of the black pepper, with incredible precision.

Even the oil, which I usually didn't notice, revealed itself in all its glory – every fat molecule of the familiar peppery olive oil left an impression on my palate. It was clear to me that Argentine olive oil had been used, given the distinct peppery harshness that tickled my throat.

As I indulged in this unique salad tasting experience, there was a whisper of worry that it might take hours to complete the meal blindly. The chef's inquiry, "What else do you taste?" prompted me to continue my exploration. The friskiness of frisée, the satisfying crunch of pumpkin seeds, the silky smoothness of avocado, and the surprising encounter with a tough, nutty texture of the seed of the juicy bright red pomegranate mingled with the crunch of cucumber, generously coated in olive oil – all harmonizing in one single bite.

At this juncture, I requested to finish the salad without the blindfold and the chef chuckled, confident that I had unraveled most of the ingredients, leaving only the scattered, crunchy fried spicy chickpeas unexplored in the vegetable ocean.

In that moment, as my fingers navigated the plate's diverse textures and my eyes finally rejoiced in the symphony of colors on the plate, I felt a profound gratitude and connection to the chef's intentions. This culinary adventure was successful in reminding me that every bite can be a journey of discovery, and every meal a canvas for creativity and connection. I found a strong connection with the different textures, tastes, temperatures, and feelings that came from the 18 ingredients on the plate.

This experience inspired me a lot and pushed me to make salads that honor the mix of colors, textures, and good stuff found in the world of plants. This special moment marked the beginning of me really enjoying salads, and it all started with a dream I had about a blind date that led me to that unforgettable plate. Just so you know, this was a dream I woke up from – a dream that encouraged me to enjoy every bite more mindfully. I encourage you to give it a try; it can make the experience of eating much more special.

Monica Elyse Bastola is a certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and an avid spiritual practitioner, whose life's mission is to bridge the gap between the “easily found info at fingertips” and individualized methods to empower individuals on their journey to holistic well-being. She has a profound knowledge and passion for the interconnection of nutrition, health, wellness, and spirituality.

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