Buddhist monks and poblano ... but not at the same time, unfortunately. Debbie and I drove down to Salt Lake City yesterday afternoon, as planned, to meet with my brother Scott's friend, Chook the Buddhist monk. We drove down and found the temple where we were to meet him without any problem. But ... Chook wasn't answering his phone, and we had no idea what he looked like! So I went into the temple, found someone who could speak English, and then we together searched for Chook the monk from Virginia Beach. Everyone there was amused by my search, but the temple's “abbot” actually managed to find him – in an ongoing ceremony that was running late. Fifteen minutes or so later, the ceremony finished and Chook came out to meet us.
When I'd called him earlier in the day, we planned to take him out for a meal at the Red Iguana, our favorite Utah Mexican food restaurant that has a great vegetarian menu. But Chook informed us that there were some celebrations planned for the evening that he had not known about – a surprise party, sort of, where he was the man of the hour. He couldn't say “no” to that, so unfortunately we only had 20 or 30 minutes to talk with him. Meeting him and his fellow monks (and their abbot) was interesting. They were all very friendly, and even jolly – lots of good humor was on display, jokes were cracked, funny stories told. The two monks there from Virginia Beach both know my brother Scott. The first thing they said upon meeting me was “But you don’t look anything at all like Scott!” I explained to them that my siblings and I all had grave doubts about the alleged shared genetic relationship, and they got a good laugh from that. I had a chance to thank Chook for being a good friend to my brother, which I'd wanted to do.
But then we had to go on to our meal without Chook, something he should regret for the rest of his life. The food at the Red Iguana is really something extraordinary. Debbie and I heard about their special yesterday – a steak and shrimp in poblano sauce – and just put down our menus and said “That!” After we got it, we were very glad we did, for it was food for the gods. Debbie followed that up with arroz con leche (a milky, cinnamony rice pudding), and I had a chocolate flan (a firm, slightly sweet custard with caramel sauce, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream). Both were excellent, but I think I like the traditional flan better. We went home with very happy tummies.
The drive home wasn't so pleasant, though. As we approached Ogden, the traffic on Interstate 15 came to a complete stop. We were directed off the highway to a detour through downtown Ogden. Our assumption was that there was an accident, though we didn't see anything. Today that was confirmed: there was an accident that killed a man and his daughter, and gravely injured his wife and another child. Very sad...