Last Sunday, bedraggled and sunbeaten, calves chirping from the pain of climbing and descending the stairs that lead to Capndesign's rooftop, we decided to spend the afternoon making tacos and drinks for our neighborhood. I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I'm not sure if it was all the chilies I ate the previous day, the sunburn, or just the excitement of a fairly good sharing of our idea on Saturday afternoon. So, I jumped out of bed about 3:45am and headed to our living room and started firing off thank yous and writing down my thoughts on the event.
This lead to one 'desperate for editorial review' email that I sent to Tracie as an ad that we could post around the neighborhood later that day and invite people to stop by and check out our tacos. Our goal was 3pm, and by 1:30 she had taken my 600 word too heavy text and paired it down to something sensible. She took to the streets with one hand full of signs and one armed with clear packing tape. We were going to empty our fridge and we were doing it that day.
I scrambled to set up in front of our house. I moved the planters with my sad seedlings of various vegetables and herbs that I'd insisted on dragging up to Matty's rooftop out to the other side of the fence. I took our awesome wooden bench and plopped it out by the those for people to rest their dogs while we cranked out tasty beverages and tacos.
We had our first neighbor stop by just before 3pm - "I'll take some for my kids and you'll give me one for free" she said. "Of course, of course", and so we began. One of our neighbors, Ardenia Brown, whom we've been meaning to meet for over a year but somehow never crossed paths, stopped by. She spied us setting up from her window and "knew that these people weren't just going to have a cookout...these people know what they are doing". We talked at length with Ardenia and many others about the neighborhood's changing face and the perpetual need for more food options, fresh or prepared. Getting our faces out there and sharing our food I think got people pretty damn excited. We felt good about the overall responses and people seemed to have few complaints.
Having learned from our previous day's efforts, we modified the setup to a U-shaped configuration to make it easier for a single person to take orders and cook. We were also able to take a more casual stride to our pace as Tracie and I had more experience working together as a team. We pushed ahead and welcomed over 30 people with tacos and beverages by pay-what-you-wish donation. People who walked by early on in the day seemed to come around to accepting us being there as the day wore on and their curiosity awoke. We served up about a hundred or so tacos and proceeded to chat the night away with a few friends that saw us tweet about it and came to share the goodwill and excitement and show their support for our crazy ideas.
In the years I've been working as a professional cook and chef I've always been surprised by the sheer joy and delight and sense of wonderment that sharing good food can bring. As the afternoon wore on, people that we'd passed without a word, smiled and opened up sharing memories of their favorite foods and ideas for where we could open. As one of our neighbors disappeared back inside, Tracie remarked, "Food changes people". Never a phrase rang so true. We look forward to sharing many more terrific moments like these as the push to find a space, funding and finish our planning begins to settle ever heavier. Thanks to all who came by and have been supportive of us from the beginning, your passion, your smiles is what keeps this place feeling like home.