We are all hungry, she tells us, but we must remember to make choices, not drift to whatever is at hand. Our hunger unites us; our choices, in restaurants and in life, make us individuals.
But I’m not going to complain about Britain’s “lack of a service culture”—it’s one of the things I cherish about the place. I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture. At best, it’s a practicality, to be enacted politely and decently by both parties, but no one should be asked to pretend that the intimate satisfaction of her existence is servicing you, the “guest,” with a shrimp sandwich wrapped in plastic. If the choice is between the antic all-singing, all-dancing employees in New York’s Astor Place Pret-A-Manger and the stony-faced contempt of just about everybody behind a food counter in London (including all the Prets), I wholeheartedly opt for the latter. We are subject to enough delusions in this life without adding to them the belief that the girl with the name tag is secretly in love with us.
A great pie is a product of both skill and wisdom; as, I believe, is a great life. You make a long string of intuitive decisions and hope they alchemize into something beautiful. That’s why each good pie that comes out of the oven felt like a win to me; it feels like a small reassurance that you’re good at life. Plus, delicious.
Janet Potter, “Zen and the Art of Pie Making”
"Today I ate my shame, regurgitated it as a self-disgust, and digested it again as indolence. Known in the physical world as udon noodles with shrimp tempura," Teddy Wayne told VICE. He and other writers (including our own Emily St. John Mandel) were profiled on what they eat for lunch. On the side: famous writers’ favorite snacks (Lord Byron liked to drink vinegar.)
"The chef’s name, an alias, is Kenji Fujimoto, and for eleven years he was Kim Jong-il’s personal chef, court jester, and sidekick. He had seen the palaces, ridden the white stallions, smoked the Cuban cigars, and watched as, one by one, the people around him disappeared. It was part of Fujimoto’s job to fly North Korean jets around the world to procure dinner-party ingredients—to Iran for caviar, Tokyo for fish, or Denmark for beer. It was Fujimoto who flew to France to supply the Dear Leader’s yearly $700,000 cognac habit. And when the Dear Leader craved McDonald’s, it was Fujimoto who was dispatched to Beijing for an order of Big Macs to go.”
I did an Internet search for quotes about life, and what it’s like, and I found life is indeed like a box of sardines (according to Alan Bennett), but it’s also apparently like: chocolates (Forrest Gump), artichokes (Thomas Aloysius Dorgan), pasta (Fellini), pudding (W.S. Gilbert), soup (Flaubert), an onion (Carl Sandburg), and a bowl of cherries (Erma Bombeck). There is a pattern here.
We are cooks, my friends and I: cooking is something that binds us and grounds us. My sister takes cookbooks to bed, reads them the way other people read novels. My daughter and I like biographies, or volumes of letters about/by people who’ve made their lives in food — James Beard, Ruth Reichl, Amanda Hesser. Recipes, like maps, give you places to go, tell you how to get there.