RESTAURANT POETRY: Volcano Curry
by Annelies Zijderveld
When the coming blanket of fog buffets the sky
like stallions set to flight, an awakening begins
to rise and rumble in my stomach with insistence.
Off we go in search of something hot to head off
the chill that clings to all of our corners. In search
of a Volcano we depart, determined to quash the grey
skies enveloping us in their cold kiss. Upon opening
the door, a rush of heat sweeps us. You are rote and
I am trite- we recall our orders easily from memory,
“Hot chicken katsu curry with noodles, zucchini
and extra fukujinzuke” tumbles out like a preamble
or perhaps instead “Hot original curry with eggplant”
makes its way from my mouth into an order written
at the register. Then the server looks from me to you:
“Volcano tomato chicken curry with rice,” you chirp,
your voice escalating in a salivating salutation of
to-go bowls and boxes brimming with our chosen
ingredients. She begins to close the order, as you add,
“Throw in a potato and onion croquette,” expectedly.
As we wait our order to be called, we sit and marvel
at the packed restaurant, the broad white plates with
curry that swims to the outer edges and punches the air.
I try to sneak peeks into the cordoned off area,
through the curtained door to glimpse ingredients
in symphony, instead I catch the cooks’ music:
the tall lean bodies working the line- this one plays
his instrument and thumps a bowl of rice down on
a plate. Another spoons zucchini on the rice, then
passes the plate to a guy waiting, spoon raised as
a slick brown sauce hits the surface, boiled potatoes
and carrots bobbing up against fukujinzuke pickles.
She calls our name. We rise in anticipation of sinking
our chopsticks into the curly crunchy mess and begin
our way home, the curry redolent of hot spice and apple.
Roux clings to udon noodles twirling round my hungry
fork. The katsu crunch is slicked with sauce. Somehow
the container is clean, quickly. As sure as the fog will
roll in, we will once again make our way back to Volcano.