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Monday, November 2, 2009

Sushi & Sake ~ Life's Little Rituals

During a Moms’ Night Out a couple of months ago, the topic turned to raw fish. You know, Sushi, Oysters, etc. We all had our funny stories about the first time we tried sushi or why we never had or what it would take to try it. The results ranged from love to disgust. As I was sharing my experiences, I realized they were less about the fish and more about the process or ritual of eating the fish.

Sure, I enjoy sushi but I love the parts that come before that first bite. Swishing the wasabi & pickled ginger slices into the soy sauce until the wasabi all but disappears and then laying a piece of ginger on each piece of sushi before using the chop sticks to dip each piece into the spicy soy sauce. Pair the meal with a nice warm or cold Sake and the experience is set. The same is true with oysters. When the tray arrives, over ice, with various sauces and a chilled vodka martini, the process begins. Swirling the oyster around in its shell with a sample size of sauce, tipping it into my mouth and continuing the swirling motion until it goes down. I pause, take a breath then I take a sip. The flavors mingle with the ritual to create an experience I love.

There is also ritual to sitting down with a good book. Finding the right spot, getting comfortable and making sure a cup of tea or snack is within reach, curling otherwise un-socked feet under and opening up to the page I always mark with a paper clip. Then it’s up to the story to do its job of transporting me into the author’s world.

I make an effort to arrive at a Yoga class at least ten minutes early. My old mat used to sound like I was unwrapping a piece of candy when I peeled it apart and rolled it out. Now, it’s a smooth roll-out with a less-than-sticky mat (which challenges my down dog, but is thick and pretty pink). I grab a blanket & roll it up so I can sit comfortably with my knees dropping out easily. Then, I luxuriate in a mini meditation, Shambhala-style, before falling into whatever practice the teacher has designed for this moment.

The rituals I mentioned are more flexible processes than hard-fast ritual. The core may be fairly consistent, but the company and ambient sounds, smells and unknown obstacles are bound to change.

The moments before my first Yoga “bite” prepare me for the mix of flavors I will swish around on my mat. The moments following this Yoga buffet allow the experience to digest and become part of me. The meal itself is just yummy.

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