First Words — 14 August 2020
The good life, rediscovered

By Mark Gauert

City & Shore Magazine

I try not to think about what we are missing.

I wash my hands. Wait at home. Wear a mask when I’m not.

And try not to think about what we are missing.

I can’t.

I can’t because just when I’ve gotten my Instacart order put away in the kitchen, just when I’ve started to think about another dinner from a cardboard box at home, I remember Chef José Andrés’ Ultimate Tasting Menu at The Bazaar in Miami Beach.

“These are our Smoked Oysters,” the waiter says in the dining room packed with people. “Smoked in applewood with brunoise apple pieces compressed in an apple mignonette.”

He opens the cloche to reveal three oysters on the half shell, smoky with mignonette air.

I pluck one from the mist and taste the fresh, briny aftertaste. It’s heaven – a mollusk masterpiece.

Then I wonder, why are these oysters crunchy … like corn flakes?

Because they are corn flakes. And I realize Instacart sent a box of corn flakes instead of the crab cakes I ordered.

I try not to think of what we are missing, so I decide to watch a show after my dinner of corn flakes. Clicking on the television, I remember a live show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, where broadcast legend Ted Koppel is speaking to a theater packed with people.

“We live in a time when we are being told [the media] are the most dishonest people in the world,” he says. “[But], you cannot have a functioning democracy. You cannot have a functioning political system, if there is nobody out there who is acceptable to all sides of the political spectrum as a reasonably honest finder of fact. You’re just going to have what we have increasingly today in this country – and that is a divided nation, in which we acutely mistrust one another.”

The line gets a full 10 seconds of applause, a rare moment of unity in these days of disunity. At least a fair observation, I think, certain to get an intelligent conversation going after the show.

Then I wonder, why is Ted Koppel wearing a fringe leather jacket … like Joe Exotic from Tiger King?

Because it is Joe Exotic from Tiger King. And I realize the television is tuned to Netflix, and The Broward College Speaker Series – where Ted Koppel spoke not so long ago – has been shut down this year. Chef José Andrés was one of the speakers scheduled to appear live this fall. (Now I’ll never get to thank him for the corn flakes. I mean the oysters.)

I try not to think about what we are missing, so after corn flakes and Tiger King I’m sitting at Bobo’s Cool Off on South Andros Island in the Bahamas.

“When you taste this drink, man,” the barman says, loading strawberries, bananas, mangos, peaches and ice into the blender, “It’s going to be totally different!”

It is – especially after he floats a thin layer of 151-proof rum atop it all – and I am just about to take another sip through my bamboo straw when I wonder, how did I get to my favorite spot on South Andros Island when we’re not even allowed to go to the Bahamas right now?

Because I am not sitting at Bobo’s Cool Off.

Nor with a crowd to see Hamilton at the Arsht, Broward or Kravis centers. Nor with a crowd to see the Heat, Marlins or Dolphins play. Nor even with a crowd on the beach in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties.

This is a magazine that’s always savored the good life here in our South Florida home. And we still are, in this issue exploring the careful ways we can.

So I wash my hands. Wait at home. Wear a mask when I’m not.

And think about everything we still have.





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