I’ve been on a Ryan Gosling streak these days and I finally saw Drive with my friend Jeremiah. Neither of us loved it. The movie seemed like an aimless mishmash held together by the very fetching presence of Mr. Gosling and his ability to rest in silence while the camera panned around his perfect jawline. However, my friend Nason defended the movie passionately during a discussion on facebook, citing some of my beefs as his favorite parts of the movie.
The disparity in our opinions made me wonder if I’d have liked Drive better seeing it with Nason. And conversely, would Jeremiah have liked the movie had he seen it with someone other than me?
I believe context is everything when it comes to shared experiences like movies and food. I know my feelings are highly subjective. They’re linked to the company and my state of mind as much or more than the food or activities. But I’m ok with that. I’m not a reviewer. I don’t have to be objective and because of that, I get to talk about how much I love Rosebud.
Rosebud is a high end Italian restaurant in Chicago with white tablecloths, a vast menu and just the merest whiff of a mobster past. It happened to be the restaurant connected to our hotel last month, which is why I ended up there one evening with a group of people including two guys named Rico and Rocco. How’s that for the start of a story worthy evening?
I got the eggplant salad. Crispy eggplant sliced as thin as paper layered with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella garnished with arugula and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Amazing.
Not only did I have entertaining dinner company that night, but when the restaurant closed and we were getting up to leave, the manager , Yvonne, said “Why are you going? I’ve got another bottle of wine. Sit. Stay.” So we stayed. After hours, drinking wine with the servers, the lovely Yvonne, and the chefs, sharing stories, hanging out and staying up way too late. I have no idea how many bottles of wine we went through that night but it was only the first of many nights at Rosebud.
Yvonne knows that food can pull people together into a family. She knows that people come back to a restaurant where they feel welcome. This is especially true of us traveling gypsies who pull into strange towns, work weird hours and stay for several weeks. All we want is a friendly place to hang out in and get fed late at night. Yvonne decided that Rosebud would be that place for us; so, she kept the kitchen open late, delivered us room service and made sure we always had just what we needed, as well as a glass of wine.
That salad is as big as both of my forearms, so I got it chopped the next time.
This is probably not a hard salad to make but it wouldn’t be the same at home. I can’t recreate the salad and enjoy it as much without Yvonne, Marcos and Danny. It wouldn’t taste as good without the late nights, the camaraderie, the chance to practice my Spanish with Marcos as he tells stories about his family in Colombia, the realization that Yvonne and I met each other 20 years ago through a mutual friend and the inevitable “Another bottle? Of course you will, just a little glass.”
Like I said, context is everything.