I have been enraptured by the Slow Food movement recently. Knowing where our food comes from, how it is grown, they way it is handled in it's preparation, how best to cook it to utilize the most nutrients out of the food. Basically I am becoming even more obsessed with food than I was. Granted it has been hard to incorporate this at home. I have never been great at cooking for just myself and find it hard to sync up schedules with friends. However in my professional life I dive head first into all of these aspects of food.
This summer I have gotten the great honor of running our gardens for the kitchen again with my buddy Clay. We have three plots and damn has it been an adventure figuring out our failings and also where we have succeeded. We are still working on building a trellis with PVC piping for our lettuce and spinach garden. There is something so satisfying and therapeutic about playing the dirt during the day and growing your own food, that soon you will be able to prepare as a dinner for someone in your kitchen. This has been the way of cooking for me for as long as I can remember. I enjoy feeding people, nourishing them. Watching them take pleasure in their food.
I am coming to find out that I am pretty certain that Alice Waters and I are a type of soul mates. She has at her very core a very romantic outlook on life and food and community. I have so many thoughts swirling in my head I have just come from an entire afternoon pouring over sustainability, slow food movement, and food memoirs that brain cannot begin to sort out all of these wonderful ideas. Waters was 27 years old and only stood 5'2 when she first opened the doors of Chez Panisse. I am 26 and on the verge of springing forward of something terrifying and exciting I do believe. My dream has always been to open up a small place to come and hang out; serving food and coffee during the day, local wine and beers at night, with a stage for local music or poetry, what ever is wanting to be performed, and a rotating art gallery. All of this with a garden out back that we try to be as sustainable as possible from. A community gathering place. Nothing fancy but welcoming and inviting, intimate a little family of it's own.
A mesh of quotes from Thomas McNamee's book Alice Waters and Chez Panisse:
"Some sort of meeting place that had the food that she had been awakened to, and combine it with people sitting around talking about film or something like that." -Time Savinar, talking about what Alice Waters wanted to do upon returning to America from France.
"Alice had wanted to have a restaurant where a different person would cook each night, but where we would all get to eat. We were starting to think about a more community-oriented, communal way of life -- creating a family in that way instead of the traditional mommy, daddy, baby."
All of these things ring so true in my heart and soul. Waters was fearless and this was back in the late 1960's when things were radically changing especially around Berkeley, CA. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade, but really I was meant for here and now and this new revolution and fight against our current food practices.
I was named after a region in France with a specialty in simple pure food, the Brittany region. Alice Waters had her "defining meal that crystallized what good food ought to be." I was born with the thought of food in my blood. I was raised in the backs of kitchens watch chaos work it's magic and onto plates in the form of well thought out dinners. Maybe fate works in funny ways. Maybe this is what I have always been destined for.
More thoughts to come soon...