For what feels like not the first time, The Cod is sad not to be counted among the varsity Waters-please cadre in the recent LAT story on folks who don't like St. Alice:
"Alice Waters, founder of Berkeley's Chez Panisse, is known worldwide for her unbending fidelity to locally grown food and organic agriculture. So why does she inspire such animosity?"
Alice being Alice, she manages almost immediately to answer the question:
Reporting from Berkeley -
Upstairs in the packed cafe of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters is
ensconced in a wood-paneled booth, looking at a kumquat souffle. She
studies it solemnly, a judge appraising a defendant.
"Is it really as high as it should be?" she asks. "And why is it on such a big plate?" She pauses. "I wonder whether it needs a sauce. Is it brown enough? And why are these leaves under here?" Frowning, she takes one in her hand. "Are they kumquat leaves?" (They aren't.)
Jean-Pierre Moullé, the head chef, heard about it the next day. "She wasn't happy," he said, sighing. "We spent an hour in her office talking about it."
A revolutionary, yes, but unlike Thomas Paine and Che, a revolutionary with an hour to spend discussing a kumquat souffle. Better still, Caitlin Flanagan was "was just out of her depth and being provocative," when she pointed out that intensive agricultural involvement is what many students go to school to flee. The willful disingenousness has got to be deliberate -- the clincher:
Waters herself occasionally chows down on a grass-fed beef hot dog (organic mustard and bun) at Let's Be Frank in Los Angeles, which is owned by a friend. But she takes a dim view of In-N-Out, though it touts fresh ingredients and hand-cut French fries. "It's probably better than any other chain," she said, "but it's not real or authentic. I'd rather eat from a street vendor in Sicily."
I, too, would rather be dining on fresh sea urchins plucked from the Adriatic by my personal Tadzio 2.0, instead of the bagel I just had, but the realities of my life impinge upon me in such a way that I cannot make that choice. Similarly, many of the folks who eat at In-N-Out, as keen as they might be to jet off to Palermo for a mess of sardines, are not able to join Alice for these little jaunts, and are happy that In-N-Out offers something less wretched, and actually tasty, than what is otherwise available. The blithe entitlement makes her a class provocateur on the order of an Axis Sally for the 21st century.