Abderrahim and I share a cultural history. We notice it most when we are in the act of creation, cooking, dancing, or listening to music. It is often a visceral recognition of a smell, gesture, color or movement. His people occupied Spain for over 750 hundred years and left their souls, hands, hearts, spices, clothing, voices, shapes, and colors with the Spanish. In turn, the Spanish brought this to the Americas, to the Indians, to the Mexicans. So many of our cultural norms are shared that at times I feel I have either turned into an Arab or he a Mexican. Our shared silent understanding gets us through heart wrenching conflict. We are at home in each other’s presence; we are understood, accepted and loved.
This ‘yearning’ to be reminded of the past (a past that we may not have lived in a literal sense) is ancient. Food arouses memories. It can sooth a broken heart, console a stranger in a strange land, bring sad beautiful tears, and create a joyous moment. We have discovered that our greatest pleasure is soothing this yearning through our food. To see the face of a customer smirk with the sheer joy of tasting the familiarity of his culture, his past, his yearning; is truly satisfying. Dreams are fleeting and sweet but our food is real, and in it, we can transcend our menial existence. It makes the miles of dirty dishes, mountains of trash and continual hauling, worth it.
Running this trailer has been the most trying venture my husband and I have dared. We remain for a myriad of reasons. Without question the most compelling reason is the people we feed. Not long ago, our good friend Andy from Patika Coffee (we met Andy as a customer at our trailer) met a couple from Iraq. They asked him if he knew where they might eat some ‘halal’ food. Andy being well traveled knew exactly what they meant and locked up his trailer to drive them himself to The Flying Carpet. The man introduced himself as Talib, (our son’s name) he was a refugee from Iraq and so was his wife. Greetings were exchanged in Arabic and he told us he had been an accountant and his wife had been a doctor in Iraq. Soon big plates of kefta, chicken, salad, French fries, harissa, olives, fresh bread and eggplant were set in front of them. As I laid the last plate down on the table I noticed the tears falling from the wife’s cheeks. Through her tears a subtle smile came over her as she ate. I do not know exactly what made them both cry; the familiar flavors, the music, Abderrahim’s Arabic, or the love laden food. I just remember feeling like a part of something great, larger than life and worthy of my time. That day in particular, was full of marital strife, unbearable heat, and back breaking work, and I had questioned our remaining open at least a hundred times. This moment Abderrahim and I had shared with these people gave me great pause. These people had found refuge from their sorrow in our food.
On the precipice of surrender I am continually brought back to the trailer through love. Love of the people we serve, love for my husband and his love for me, love of Moroccan food, and love of the adventure.
We feed those who cannot find themselves in other food, we feed those who are looking for something transcendent and different, we feed the gypsies, the foreigners, the travelers and the food lovers.
If it all ends today I will never regret this journey. I will revel in the memory of it, and smile.