Dining a la bohème

This blogger has written before how dining is a total experience 'cause it taps all five senses. Well, folks, I don't really know much about it, so I related it with Powerpoint presentations. (Hu da loser?) Now, observe some restaurateurs enhance that already rich experience by making us not only dine and wine to satisfaction but marvel at the ambiance as well.

My colleague Beth at Cafe Juanita, posing
for this camera.

My friends and I didn't need to look far for such as place, 'cause we found it right there, a few blocks away from ze work crib -- Cafe Juanita. It's relatively pricey (prepare around Php 450 pax), but heck, we were celebrating and rarely.

We tried five desserts and the house's best dishes such as the aligue (crab egg) pasta, which was so good that it made me forget the names of other delightful plates we ordered. At least I remembered they were delightful. Okay.

The place's interiors are visually overwhelming. Every corner is adorned with pieces and trinkets from different corners of the globe. Exotic, mismatched chandeliers hang above the diners while the walls are draped with contrasting textiles looking like they came from Baz Luhrmann's elaborate turn-of-the-century concept film sets. (Geez, of course I only have at most a pop culture reference, not a genuine histori-cultural one. Amateur indeed.)

The photos below could be better. I made them too warm. But if you accept an excuse, that was because I was enjoying the food too much that I didn't anymore care about camera settings and composition.

Cafe Juanita.
The cafe was eclectic and Bohemian through and through. It isn't some spot one person would just frequent for refuge and creative inspiration, but a place to enjoy with friends for conversation. The interiors are too loud and glam, but they do speak of a boho lifestyle characteristic of "marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities" (source) in the 19th century.

So note the paradoxes there: impoverished and glamorous, artistic but uninspiring? The term bohemian itself has taken on a wide meaning that span these contrasts, though it has always been used to describe a lack of convention. It is not, however, of a lack of order and principle.

There exists in its style and design a harmony of colors, a consistent identity, a hierarchy of space and shapes. Its beauty is non-conventional, but it doesn't cease to be beautiful. This is something observers have to consider. Many times people err in a narrow artistic view anachronistic in the modern age. Just look at the many opinions against the artistic value of Munch's The Scream. Sigh.

A heavily designed corner in Cafe Juanita.
Now I'm not saying truths and principles change over time lest I side with today's pathetic relativism. But culture changes, and cultural products have to be seen in their own context. We no longer wear the fashion trends of yesterday, for example, and we don't judge the value of wooden antiques based on the merits of Philippe Starck. It's also not a matter of taste and emotional messages.

So alright, I admit I've been distracted in this post--shifting from a restaurant review to an art lesson. Just to say I've been really affected by the Scream's recent fall from cultural grace to penny depth. #

For use of photos, please cite Creative Commons license and attribution (see sidebar)