Meatball Noodles

Food for Thought

Sadly, tonight was the last day of the retail store for Moon Man, a dessert shop specializing in Indonesian sweets. Many fans came to bid Nigel farewell. His neighbors in The Market Line, the underground food hall in the Lower East Side, came to raise glasses. The hall got off to a slow start but was looking up before the pandemic. Now any hope of quick recovery has been dashed. As sad as the closure is, it’s a rational and realistic decision.

Around 6 pm, I arrived with a bottle of wine and stayed until 9, standing by his stall chatting with him and everyone who came. At one point, he invited me to have a bowl of Indonesian noodles with meatballs he had prepared in advance for dinner. @essexpearl opened their kitchen for us for that occasion. Standing in a professional kitchen eating the food prepared by a chef reminded me of the brief period I worked for Japanese restaurants. I have fond memories of working hard and enjoying the dinner and drinks together afterward.

I think the way people bond in the food business is unique because it’s not only that hardships strengthen the bond but also that they share the same passion. You meet more interesting people too. In my career, I found that the higher you go up, the less interesting people become.

Nigel said you shouldn’t make any enemies in the food business because surviving is hard enough. Like wartime friendships, the stakes are too high. Perhaps that’s what the problem is; the higher we go up the social ladder, the lower the stakes are. The quality of friendship suffers as a result. Although financial stakes can go up, your survival risk diminishes. As in academia, when stakes are low, we end up bickering over petty differences. It feels surreal that I make money by manipulating things on a screen. The relationships I make through it feel equally superficial.

Technology can have a massive social impact, but it’s not who I am that is making that impact. It just happens, sooner or later, whether it’s me or someone else who clicks the button, almost like a natural disaster. It’s not the type of impact Nigel has when he serves his meatball noodles to everyone.