Not Traditional

June 8, 2024 • Louie Mantia

Yesterday, the owner of the around-the-corner coffee shop told me they’d be serving yakisoba this weekend during the matsuri. Switching to an apologetic tone, she said that I can’t eat it because it’s made with ika (squid).

When I walked in today, the whole café was rearranged and …smelled like squid.

I immediately noticed she wasn’t sporting her typical metal band / horror movie t-shirt vibe, and instead was wearing a pastel summer kimono. She sensed the word yukata on the tip of my tongue and interrupted me before I could say it.

Not yukata.”

I asked her what the difference was, and she thumbed over the edge of the obi wrapped around her torso. Sure, that obi did look more serious than one for yukata.

As she poured me a this-weekend-only blend of coffee, she told me in a couple hours we should go outside and watch people carry the mikoshi down the street together. She said she wanted yatai food, and I replied, “I almost thought to earlier, but it was too hot.”

She handed me the iced coffee, pivoted to the side of the counter, and asked, “Do you like yatai food?”

“Sure, yakisoba,” I said as she nodded, “or …tornado potato.”

She straightened up, pressed her hands together, rested her elbows on the counter, and placed her chin on the tips of her fingers, making her head point slightly upward. Closing her eyes, she smugly responded, “That’s not traditional.”

“I know.”

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