I have not read Plato’s Republic for a long time, but the story of the cave has come into clear focus for me through the succulence of Sichuanese cuisine. Last summer at Peking University, I ate the same dish almost every day from a small noodle shop on campus: mala liangmian, spicy cold noodles. I loved it and unsuccessfully tried to replicate it after returning to the States. When I returned to China this summer, I was determined to have some. In Chengdu, the home of said dish, I ate the best liangmian ever. I cannot now believe that I missed the dish at Peking U, which was a pale imitation of the flavors that I enjoyed in Sichuan.
Whereas before I was living in a cave and believed that the shadows
were the totality of reality, I can now stand in the sunlight and see clearly.