The Parable of the Secret Talent

Once there was a young boy (or possibly a young girl, only the sky and the pen know for certain) who did not do things the way that other boys and girls did them. He did not herd the sheep in the usual way; he did not sweep the floor in the usual way; he did not store the bread in the usual way.

The people who he loved, or at least took very seriously, came to him and said, “That is a foolish way to herd the sheep, sweep the floor, store the bread. That is the wrong way to do it. Do it the right way.” And because this young boy loved them, or at least took them very seriously, he tried to do things the way they said. He herded the sheep in the usual way; he swept the floor in the usual way; he stored the bread in the usual way. And he was Extremely Bad At It.

The people shook their heads and said, “That boy is not very good at herding the sheep, sweeping the floor, storing the bread. He never was.” The boy was miserable, until one day, after he had grown up and moved to a cottage far up in the hills, he decided to throw caution to the wind (caution was later found hung up on a clothesline in the valley below, but that is a different tale entirely) and do things the way he had done them when he was a young boy.

He herded the sheep his way; he swept the floor his way; he stored the bread his way. And he discovered that his way of doing things was just as good as the way he had been taught; indeed, it was even better! It was the best way ever of herding the sheep, sweeping the floor, storing the bread! The man that had been the young boy was ecstatic, and he lived out his days herding his sheep and sweeping his floor and storing his bread, just the way he liked.

Some say the moral of this parable is that every person has a secret talent deep within them, which ought to be nourished. Some say the moral is that people ought not to get up in my business, I know what I’m doing. Some ask how the man knew his way was the best way when he wasn’t any good at the other way. Some say that the boy was a damn fool to move far up in the hills just because someone said he wasn’t sweeping the floor right. And some say it’s a stupid parable anyway and to pass the jug.

Impression: Amy’s Cafe #2: Not Recommended

Golden Gate between Hyde and Leavenworth, next to GAAP
San Francisco

I’ve mentioned my soft spot for small chaotic restaurants, and Amy’s Cafe definitely fit the bill. When I went in for lunch today, there were hand-written menus on every wall (making one wonder if they have an absurdly large menu, or just a large menu repeated in several places), a couple of cabinets strategically placed to block off part of the space they’re not using, and eight bars of Asian pop skipping on a CD player. My kind of place.

As I said, they have an extensive menu — mostly Chinese food, with a section for breakfast and American food selections. I ordered the broccoli beef rice plate ($4.25), which tends to be a pretty safe bet. Sadly, Amy’s Cafe let me down pretty comprehensively. The broccoli beef cowered by the side of a massive expanse of rice — more than I could finish, and I can eat a lot of rice. The sauce was bland and watery, and the beef was rubbery. The broccoli was fine, but a plate of steamed broccoli and rice is not a meal, but a joke about 70s macrobiotic cuisine. The hot and sour soup that came with it I didn’t even finish.

I feel like I should give the place another try some time — the American dishes looked better, and I tend to reserve judgment on a Chinese place until I try their fried rice. Still, at this moment, I can’t recommend Amy’s Cafe.