“Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory.
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to breathe in the open wind
I want to kiss like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you”
Annie Lennox, Eurythmics
Rain. The romantics would agree: it is in everything. Everything is nothing without it. With it, everything is not the same. The first taste. The first sensation. The first kiss. The first love. Rain. Droplets big and small. Droplets that covers everything in a magical shine. Droplets of water that paint the town. Ironically, it adds more color, adds vibrancy, adds life. Much the same way water is to us, to the food we eat, to the life we live.
The rains are not depressing, not even remotely.
“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – Gilbert Chesterton
The smell of moisture, the ground emanates with such power, with such deliberation whenever it is inundated.
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” – Langston Hughes
It is when vegetables are at their best. It is when the herbs are at their greenest. It is the coming of spring in some parts of the world, the end of summer in others.
“Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger.” - Saint Basil
It was raining that I made my first recipe: Chicken Teriyaki. It was during my years at state university. And mom just left the family. Left to my own devices, and a well stocked book shelf and fridge, we had dinner. Despite the somber occasion, it was my first step. And I was happy. I was cooking. With a ladle, and a wing and a prayer, our family moved on. Broken, but nevertheless moved forward.
It was pouring when I went for my first day at the job. Sixteen, awkward, and passing the threshold of the local McD’s. Back then, the restaurant chain was magical to me. Red bricks. Systematic cooking and ordering. Everything surgically clean. Video training. The smell of burgers. The packaging. My first paycheck two weeks later.
It was a deluge when I first submerged in the flooded waters of Espana in Manila, appreciating the comforting soup like no other a few hours later. It was dangerous. It was not natural that manholes, despite being left open to take care of the flood, actually posed more of a threat with the rushing water. It was chaotic for people to rush at the few remaining transports that have not been seized by the rising waters. It was surreal, because the umbrellas added color to an otherwise drab city. Red, blue. Black, Plaid. Rain coats of different sizes. Shoes floating. The lights had halos, casting a golden tint on the damp streets. Cold, drenched to the bone, it was at that moment I realized things should be better. Let me start with a hot bowl of soup.
Saute chopped white onions in olive oil until transparent. Toss in some chopped celery, stalk and leaves, and carrots. Let it dance for the length of that Annie Lennox ditty, then toss in some chorizo. Toss, then vandalize with a table spoon of tomato paste. Pour in some fresh chicken stock. Let it roll to a boil, then simmer. Add sliced cabbage, sprinkle in some sage, salt, pepper, and a smidge of chili pepper flakes. Stir. Serve this hearty soup in big bowls with a chunk of baguette.
It was drizzling when I left Manila for a few years in Switzerland. I still could remember how many droplets painted the airplane window. It was my first time away from home, out of the country, and completely alone in a foreign land where only tourists speak English. No friends or relatives. I should have been sad because of the world I was leaving behind. But I was not. I was looking forward to this. I was not looking back. Can I equate snow with rain? Because it felt that way, landing at the Geneva Airport. And it was magical, the way the snow flakes landed on my coat. Up until then, I thought snow flakes were just a product of people’s imagination. But I saw this flake, in all it’s crystalline glory for a few seconds.
It was the Spring Rain that found me in an apartment somewhere in Zurich Old Town, listening to Alanis Morisette’s “You Learn” and tapping to the beat. I knew how to speak Deutsch by then, fluent enough to tell a joke, to tell a story, to get around, to get lost. I knew Zurich like the back of my hand. The alleys, the back streets, the stores, the restaurants, the kitchens, the chefs. It was on that rainy spring day that I was to assume the position of Executive Sous Chef at an Italian Restaurant on Neiderdorfstrasse.
It was a dark, damp gloomy day when I lost my job at the Century Park hotel. I was not a chef there. Far from it. Room service manager. Dead end job. Slow professional growth, if any. I needed to be in the kitchen again. I walked out of the hotel, albeit with some regret, to grab my whites and find a place where I can strap on my apron again. I eventually did.
As you can see. I do not think of the rains as a depressing weather phenomenon. It is the mark of new beginnings. It is the signal that things are about to change. It is the rhythm of droplets like drumbeats that sound out what is to be. Notice how your skin feels smooth and velvety after an hour in the rain, that no other beauty product can match? Notice that only during and after the rains the food smells better, the light is more alive, the mood, as an understatement, restless.
It is the spirit that moves people forward. And it is the rain that nourishes some people’s spirit. It cleans the soul. It inspires, it gives hope.
“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” – Roger Miller