I was going to rattle off about politics and some other dreary topics, but I have had a change of heart, thanks to local Chinese/Thai food restaurant Little Panda. The restaurant specifics will have no value for the non-local readers, but keep reading anyway. Trust me, this is going somewhere more universal.
The meal was above average quality and flavour, for the most part. The pad thai was passable, but nothing to run out in the streets and yell about. No, the yelling and delight came from the deep-fried items. I don’t know if they paid a premium to hire a master of the fryer, or if this attentive cook was just channeling the spirit of greasy deliciousness. Whatever the case may be, the outcome was the best chicken balls that I have eaten in decades (stop snickering).
For years, I have dutifully eaten chicken balls whenever they have been presented, but they have routinely been overcooked, left to fry so long that the meat within is dry and tasteless and the surrounding batter is brittle and unpleasant. Tonight’s delightful treasures were a case study in perfect timing. They were a light golden brown in colour, cooked just long enough to make the coating crispy but pliant, and the chicken within was moist and flavourful. To top it off, they had somehow improved the sweet’n’sour sauce that I assume comes in industrial vats. It was less sweet, and the more subtle flavour worked with the chicken to make my dinner fantastic. Yes, the sauce was still coloured bright orange-red with unnatural dyes, but in the context it was just right.
Was I in the mood for deep-fried stuff today? You bet, and I know that influences my enjoyment of dinner, but there’s another more esoteric element to my dining experience: contentment. For the first time in, oh lets just say forever, I have a calm sense of contentment. I’m able to lean back after a good meal and appreciate that I ate a nice meal with my lovely family and that is pretty great.
The best part of about feeling calm and content is that I’m more aware of the situation happening around me and the needs of other people. I’m reacting more deliberately and more thoughtfully, instead of flailing about in a panic. It’s a nice feeling.
That is not to say that I’m living a life of non-stop zen. I still have my freakouts and my weird hangups and all of the kooky things that make my mental landscape so…interesting. A few days ago I was frightened at the prospect of putting my novel up for sale as an e-book and not selling any copies save for pity purchases.With every new step I take with my writing, there’s a momentary fear storm that will blow in, an ill wind of doubt that shakes the foundation of the creative house. (That sentence was overly elaborate and a touch melodramatic. I was indulging the bad poet inside of me. Moving on.) But the reason I can have these bursts of self-doubt is that I’m actually making progress in my writing career. I see my writing getting better, my process becoming more streamlines and refined. The world is full of people trying to find their passion and follow it, and I’m already there.
And how can I manage to follow my creative desires? A fantastic wife who works hard and pays the bills and is a great mom to the little dude. And that doesn’t even cover the direct support, feedback, and plain old listening she gives me. Now that I think about all of the ways she helps me out, I might go offer her a massage.