Those were what we had in our first meeting, sometime two months ago. Some of you are going to think “oh she is going down the utterly beaten path of opening a story,” but that is what happened to us. We are a pair full of cliché elements.
We met on a cold day. Saigon was trying its best at winter-ing, so you have this sort of weather where a breeze could send goosebumps from your head to every last one of your fingernails, but walk for half an hour and you would be sweating. But it was still winter after all, so he ordered a hot chocolate. Me? Affogato. Ice cream all the way. I almost never do hot beverages. His hot chocolate came with a tiny flower shaped cookie, which I imagined to be very sweet and not at all appropriate with the milky cocoa sludge. My affogato was tiny – tiny ice cream coop, probably half a tablespoon of coffee added just for the sake of the drink, and chocolate sauce drizzle.
Slacks. Tucked in shirt, top buttons opened. Nice, wide chest. Toothy smile. Not-so-business handshake.
We started talking about cheese.
Cheese is the first thing that connects us. It is a cliché element, because it is food, and connecting through food, however novel the food may be, is always a cliché story. He is the owner of a HCMC-based company that produces fresh cheese. Burrata, mozzarella, ricotta, stracciatella. I had ordered from him once or twice before we met in person. Ricotta, just to see how it looks like, and burrata, because I have been missing Pizza 4P’s burrata pizza and wanted to know if his burrata would be different. Turned out I did not even remember 4P’s flavor so the comparison is a moot point. Creamy burrata in form of a small mozzarella sack filled with creamy cheese strings. That was all I remembered, and until now all I know about burrata.
He talked about expanding his cheese business. He learned the craft from scratch – boiling milk, separating whey, pulling and stretching to make mozzarella, and seasoning and straining to make ricotta – he can do it all by hands. He has a strong, outgoing grip.
“Are you passionate about cooking?” he asked.
“I like cooking, yes, but to call it passionate… I don’t cook that often,” there went my British accent.
“Because I saw you posting a lot of cooking photos on Facebook.”
I was about to enter awkward territory. I don’t do well with compliments. Not at that time, not now, not ever.
Thankfully our conversations changed, from his work to mine. I spent five minutes trying to explain the idea of a blockchain (Google it yourself, I won’t do it again in this post) and a currency that is not physically manifested. Half way into the explanation I realized it would have been much better to just liken my company to a stock exchange. But before I got to say it, he understood.
“So, like a… stock exchange?”
“Yes!” I might have exhaled a bit too quickly.