Confessions of "The Man" by David Bazzano
People give me a lot of names. It’s easy to forget the role we play in other people’s lives by being blindsided by our own experiences. To some I’m the fish guy, to others I’m the oyster dude, or the mushroom man. Minutes to mere seconds add up to a lot of shared experiences over the course of time, but rarely enough to evolve out of the situation. People give me a lot of names that associate me to what they see when I come through the side door. Colloquially speaking, everyone knows me as The Man. All around Portland you can hear my name in the kitchens: “ what’s happenin’ man? How’s it goin’ man?”
In and out before the advert or the cognizance of a greater identity can be established, I am associated through what I convey. It doesn’t bother me, Its only normal to keep a distance from someone selling wild mushrooms from a windowless van.
On certain days it seems like a ritual dance with the traffic lights, the sea of stagnant red along the interstate can be downright nauseating. A wrong turn can make you lose your etiquette, and that guy in the spot that is clearly labelled DELIVERY VEHICLES ONLY can be the difference between dining at home, or in county court. What makes it worth all of this? What we do is common sense, and it is an ancient trade. We are the bringers of goods, the place where reciprocity got its name.
We feed you.
What we bring are memories. What someone will taste for the first date or an anniversary, or a night out with friends potentially leaves an everlasting impression on that place and time. It has the power to change the choices we make. These rewards aren’t always obvious; it’s easy to be distracted by the nature of repetition.
In, out, reverse, forward, repeat. 1 down, 19 to go. At times it can also be meditative, where the wind through the open window and the soundscape of the city changes street to street. It’s easy to miss in the everyday grind, especially where the change of culture and history happens, like an urban ecotope. The architecture may fool you, but the food signs on the street corners won’t. From the raw lovers in NoPo, the Umami and fresh on Mississippi, and the southeast, where waves of different migrations have layered its taste buds. I am a part of that heritage, delivering that passion and lifestyle.
Being in touch with our past is important. Our food choices are one of the largest links we have connecting us to our past, and is one of the most intimate experiences you can have. Bringing a piece of the wild onto the plates of those willing to discover their roots is what keeps me getting behind the wheel.