Spring 2020 Memories

by Mark Bitterman

The first days of spring were memorable.  We were still hearing the echoed laughter of February's and and early March's visitors. But it was definitely just echos.  March 15 we closed our doors to shelter in place and respect social distancing recommendations, and in so doing fourteen years of uninterrupted service in our little shops came to an abrupt halt. The onset of the pandemic was chaotic, the first truly global crisis any of us experienced, but we did our best to take care of staff, customers, vendors, and the rest. 

The streets went very dark, very fast.

We cooked lots.  And lots.  Almost always, in pots.

Our hunger for connection to the memories and of the places and people that gave us them, drove us to pursue more flavors.  We brought in 2019-20 harvest olive oil, white balsamic vinegars that wood nymphs might use for salad dressing, evil anchovy extract, a favorite local coffee roasted to order, pastas, and much more, and began sharing them with our customers, who were yearning for adventure as much as us.

We made Mystery Boxes for Mother's Day. Father's Day. Birthdays. Happy Hours. Chocolate Fiends. Savory salting cooking cooks. 

We watched the berry bushes in the front yard bear historic fruit, so we made rosemary chocolate fleur de sel granola and ate nothing but, for three weeks. 

We hauled out the old table--the top cut from the side of a barn, the legs from grandma's old breakfast nook table in Connecticut. It used to be in my dining room, but it had been sacrificed for our little shop on Mississippi Ave.  

We made it silky smooth. 

We celebrated despite our social distance, with our community, for community,

But only after we mourned and protested and broke with social distance, with our community, for our community. 

Spent a lot of time with family we don't normally spend enough time with.

Re-opened our doors in Tokyo. Our surreally Portland shop took one giant leap into super-surreality. The strains brought by the pandemic on small growers everywhere led us to forge new partnerships. We brought fresh organic produce straight from regional farms to the big table up front--right in the middle of Shinjuku station.  Surreal is maybe not the word. Superreal is more like it.

We made banana bread. So much banana bread.  And ate it with butter and an ever-expanding experimental palette of craft salts. (Nothing shows off a salt like buttered banana bread.)

We opened our doors, just a little bit, served people from the porch. We also went all fancy digital like and offered online ordering with porch-side pickup. 

With your support, we lent support to women and children at risk of homelessness, and we shared our voices and our money with the related causes of criminal justice reform and racial injustice.  

Together with you, we thought about the lessons that this spring invited us to learn. We learned that food and drink bring us together even when we're apart. We learned that we can open ourselves up to others even when we are vulnerable.  And we had a thought.  If, smiling through a mask, we can love one another more than ever, imagine the world we might become without one. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.