I had ordered a macchiato from the barrista at the Caffe Umbria cart and had tried to say please in something that ended up sounding like half of both languages. It bristled that it hadn’t rolled off my tongue as easily as nine months ago when I was surrounded by the language. At least though, when I closed my eyes and took a sip of the coffee drink, I could imagine even without remembering the words, that for one moment that I was back in Italy.
Reality crashed in again as the sea of people around me nudged me further from the island of my little dream. Share our Wealth is the wonderful organization who sets up this event every year; a chance for the local restaurants to present their food and for attendees to explore different Portland eating options in one spot. The proceeds all go to help children in poverty locally.
I get the concept and appreciate the intent; but somehow, surrounded by all the food (some of which ended up in the trash as people cleared their plate for a different tasting) I couldn’t help thinking it was just a bit too contradictory.
I am all about patterns and pieces that fit well together. And so I often use related ideas to underscore a theme in my writing or even in my life (décor and food at a party for example). Yet, there are times when relating two things can actually have the effect of contradicting the theme. I suppose this was what I was feeling at Taste of the Nation. Immersed in the scent and scene of food all I could think about was - what a waste.
It depends, I suppose, on how the ideas are presented. Sex and God can go together, for example; but not if either is used gratuitously. It must be sincere and the theme must be made very clear in order for them not to feel in opposition.
Food used as a theme in Share our Wealth isn’t necessarily bad, but again, it must be used to reinforce the concept of sharing, rather than that of gluttony. This is the fine line that felt crossed as I saw the food pile up on plates and later in the bottom of the trash cans.
Food and poverty like Spanish and Italian may be related…but the truth is, one can’t be spoken of easily while thinking of the other.