Usher, Utley, and Mussels

Dish 97: Mussels at Matyson, 19th between Ludlow and Chestnut,

The mussels were exceptional. But I couldn’t help wondering whether they truly were exceptional, or if the rosy glow of an exceptional week made them so. While Gustav and I were getting dressed for one of the events of the past week, Usher’s song “Love in this Club” came on Pandora, and I burst out indignantly that despite its catchiness, I did not like the objectifying message of the song. “So what if he wants to make love right there and doesn’t care?! Suppose SHE cares?!” Gustav put down his bow tie and sighed. “Loqi. Do you understand what he means? It’s about the moment. It’s about the club, not the girl. He’s infatuated with the atmosphere.”

Was it the mussels? Or the moment?

Like a light piercing the clouds on an overcast day, Gustav’s words whispered to me all week. Think of the Bachelorette. The extravagant dates—flying to Las Vegas, sunning by a brand-new private pool not yet premiered to the public, dancing alone in a club to the rhythms of a piano man, taking over the penthouse suite with champagne in hand—craft a dream of two people in love. The human fantasy, the perfect love story—we want to make it happen, we want the whipped cream and the cherry on our sundaes, and we will add them ourselves if need be. Think of those days you wake up on the right side of the bed. It’s not that everything goes right—it’s that nothing bothers you. On a good day, a red light or a slow walker is nothing. On a bad day, it can put you over the edge.

Corn and arugala salad- crisp, fresh, light, perfect.

So when you start on the right side of the bed—when you begin a week making a splash with one custom made hat, and you have two more made before the bananas on top of the microwave can ripen—everything else seems to be going right as well. Even if you have to re-input your entire phone book because Verizon and AT&T won’t cooperate. Even if you get caught in a torrent and have to buy a new outfit at Banana Republic. Even if you ask Chase Utley for his name to put in the caption under his picture, because you don’t watch baseball. (He took it like a champ. “Hi, I’m Chase.”) So, how were the mussels? The best I have ever had. Sweet, tender, barely malty, and with a not-too-salty, not-too-savory, just-right green broth. But was it the mussels? Or was I just in love with the club?


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