As you know, the reason for this is that a West Coast party don't stop. They must get tired out there, and have very patient employers. Joining the party is Eater San Francisco. Early days yet, but I'm hoping the lads from Manhattan will bring a touch of skepticism and irreverence (not wacky, just not reverent) to Bay Area food writing.
Basically, like the Flav says, I can't do nuttin for ya, man. If I worked in a restaurant, I would be "in the weeds" figuratively speaking. Sadly, I do not, and the weeds are literal, and seem be growing through GCWHQ. But Max gets rooty with the Lexis/Nexis, and trawls up a third adulatory NYT profile of St. Alice, this one from 1981, and from Craig Claiborne. Craig spends some newsprint discussing Alice's hands, which are small.
A week full of PHC lies ahead. An MKS knife test-drive, pig roast roundups, pickled domestic doyennes, and which boxer David Chang is like. But the day job beckons, so for now, one of America's leading amateur oenologists tells you how to charm Robert Parker with a mixture of offal and voodoo.*
and evidently, decolletage. To recap, the Daily Mail ran a story about a famous chef almost, but not quite, falling out of her dress. Those ink-stained wretches? Bless their hearts. Tip of the fin to Grambo, who, despite many other responsibilities, is assiduous in patrolling the black cumin beat.
I actually read the thing, though not having a Badthings-sized Dowd jones, I missed the video link.* The article can be, and has been, parsed rather thoroughly. I learned, for instances, that when all else fails, the adjective "lovely" moves any article on Waters forward. You can do this sort of close reading on your own -- the phone call Alice places to her daughter to tell her how lovely pretty the groceries are might be a place for novices to start.
But the more serious question is what is Alice Waters doing? More particularly what is she doing, big as life on the front of the New York Times in 2007?** What was revolutionary in 1977 is commonplace in 2007. Just ask Richard Hell. If Chez Panisse were a New York nightclub, rather than a Bay Area restaurant, it would be CBGB's,and NYU undergrads would be living in its ruins.
Waters's goals are laudable, but Severson makes out her failure to make much progress towards these goals as part of her charm:
If Alice fails, it is our fault for creating such a cruel and harsh world. Reichl chimes in with “She’s relentless in that way
revolutionaries are.” This equation of Waters=Revolutionary is in the headline, and permeates the article. But where is the revolution, televised or no? She runs a popular restaurant in the Bay Area, and has been delivering jeremiads about the need to reform our food supply for years. And evidently, whenever Alice comes west of the Rockies, it's news. This may make her quixotic, and it certainly makes her an institution, and one that has contributed profoundly to changing the way some Americans eat. But it does not make her a revolutionary. You cannot be a revolutionary and an institution at the same time. Revolutionaries make shit happen, and at this point, Waters is kicking against the pricks while resting on her (locally and sustainably grown) laurels.
*I found the video link. I made it to the 49 second mark. How long can you hang on in the Alice Waters Video Rodeo?
**Yes, she does have a new cookbook coming out, the first sans Panisse brand, but if flogging books is the rationale, it suggests a convergence of talk show booking policies and journalism.
The folks at Serious Eats have entrusted me with the momentous responsibility of developing a soup for each week's Sunday Night Football matchup. This week's soup is pho bo, (coming soon). As you know, the foundation of pho bo is a good stock. A good stock needs to simmer. While it simmers, why not catch up with P.J. Stock?
Confidential to "A" in NYC -- I did see the Severson piece!