Tonight’s after-dinner conversation:
I feel like I need some gluten. Or dairy. Or meat.
C: (mimicking imaginary requests at the restaurant earlier) Can I have a glass of whole milk instead of iced tea?
(I mimic my imaginary requests.) Do you have bacon? This salad would be great with bacon.
C: It doesn’t have to be real bacon. It can be the bits.
We’re parking the car and talking about a television interview C. watched. The interview was on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and it was Matthew McConaughey talking about all of the airstreams he owns and how he gives his employees 3-week “road trips” for vacations. C. says: It’s like he was a caricature of himself.
We walk up to Casa de Luz. It has a lush entryway. Flowering vines growing on an arbor, pea gravel under foot. It’s dusk. We hear music. I think it sounds folk-y and get worried. (Later C. corrects me - it was Flamenco, he says. Oh, I say. Because this makes perfect sense.) We enter the courtyard, pass the musicians, walk into the restaurant, read the menu.
I order a soup and salad, and I’m given a little wooden token to hand to the kitchen staff when I go to help myself. C. orders the “Sunday dinner,” and he’s given a different wooden token. We go to the kitchen area.
I search the dining room for white dreads as we walk (because surely we’re going to spot a dread family), but it’s filled with more of a yuppie hippie crowd tonight.
We sit at a picnic table on the side porch so we don’t have to feign interest in the musicians in the courtyard. I taste my organic, gluten free, vegan creamy carrot and sweet potato soup. C. tries his organic, gluten free, vegan lentils. I search for salt on the table, but all that I find is a glass shaker full of what appears to be sawdust. I walk from the porch back into the dining room and look for salt and pepper, but there’s none to be found. I return to our table and re-examine the shaker. Then I sprinkle some of the dust into my palm and taste it while C. watches.
C: What is it?
I think they’re toasted sesame seeds with salt.
C: Does it taste salty?
Sort of. Maybe not. Maybe salt’s not macrobiotic. Maybe you can’t get free trade salt.
Are we doing a cleanse? he asks.
I sprinkle a little bit of the sesame seed mix onto every spoonful of my soup and tell C., “This salt placebo works really well.”
We take advantage of the family style, walk-up-to-the-kitchen-and-ask-for-seconds policy. I get more soup and he gets more bland lentils and Quinoa (pronounced Kwe – noa and not Keh-noa which I incorrectly instruct C. to say before he goes up for his seconds and has his pronunciation corrected by one of the kitchen staff members).
Do you get a reward after you finish a vegan meal? I ask.
Casa de Luz is attached to a Montessori school, a Tai Chi studio, a yoga studio and a “natural epicurean culinary school.” So depending on who you are, the place is like a utopian paradise, or, well, like Matthew McConaughey.
As we're leaving I remark: The gluten free lemon and almond pie looked like poo.
C: I think the musician heard you say poo.
On the drive home, I ask C. to stop and get some dessert with me (all that talk about dairy and gluten did me in). We go to the Trailer Park Eatery down the street where I order a dairy-laden peanut butter chocolate shake. While I wait for it, I read over Shuggie’s menu. It includes a burger dressed with “chicken fried bacon” and another sandwich made with fried chicken battered in Lays potato chips. This all sounds sickening and delicious to me.
Next time we eat at Casa de Luz (yeah, I’ll probably want to eat there again, un-PC and un-vegan as I may be), we’ll bring our friend Matthew some Tobasco sauce. Alright, alright.