The risotto on the menu looked promising! The combination of fresh ingredient, asparagus, unusual mushrooms, and mix of spices and flavors, with a great chef, ambience, and company created magical expectations. All I had to do was wait.
What followed left me speechless. The ambience, service, and company were perfect. Our conversation spanned our two lives, mixing work, views on politics, and the changes in the lives of mutual friends. As the mains arrived, my stomach was making anticipatory noises and my mouth was watering.
As the waitress presented the dish, the presentation caused me to wonder, but it was the first bite that took me by surprise. Whatever this dish was, it was not what I was expecting! My senses were shocked. The rice was not fully cooked, the flavors did not work with each other, and the plating was sloppy. Visually, by smell, and most importantly by taste the dish did not work. The striking difference between what I anticipated and what came in the end was the same when “luscious orchards became alkali flats because of the evil of the people who lived there.” (Psalm 107.34)
Observations in the moment included the following.
Attention to details always matter. The visuals on the plating was a leading indicator but not the only one. The coloring of the ingredients, the taste, and the feeling left after one consumed the first bite became indicators of something not quite right.
Process matters. How one cooks the rice makes a difference to a risotto. Ideally, the result is not crunchy and tough to eat.
Time and place matter. All things may be good individually, but when combined with other actions in the wrong time and place, the result may not be as promising as one anticipates!
The good news is that I ate what I could (I was hungry) and did not get sick afterwards. I was left with an observation that there was so much potential for everyone with my opportunity; sadly, it was squandered and marked by a half-eaten plate of risotto left at the table.