Saturday, March 26, 2011

Food Porn..

Food is our common ground, a universal experience. JAMES BEARD
In chatting during my commute a few days ago about our latest restaurant find in the Hudson Valley I was surprised to get the response from the woman I was speaking with that she felt going out to eat was not a worthwhile expense "there are better things I would spend my money on".   I tried to wrap my head around this idea but honestly don't get it.  It is not that I am daft but rather that to me going to a restaurant and finding one that has really good and interesting creations is such a source of pleasure.  The woman I was speaking with (as I pointed out to her and to which she reluctantly agreed) is not a foodie.  I on the other hand am one of those people who can relate to the term food porn.


As a child we rarely went out to restaurants and I was not an adventurous eater.  I started experimenting with different cuisines in college.  This was the 80s, spending and over the top extravagance was the norm, tall food was created (at Gotham Bar and Grill which after all these year is still among my favorites) so finding restaurants that had good food at our budgets was a challenge.  Thank goodness for the Village and it's small and tasty restaurants.  In watching the Food Network (a channel that at first did not have these annoying game show type competitions but actually either had cooking or interesting facts about cooking) I learned that the evolution of quality cuisine in the US pretty much developed around this time.  I also was fortunate to work for an amazing doctor during college and while getting my masters.  He and his wife were the first real foodies I got to know and through their generosity I discovered haute cuisine.  I have been hooked since then. As my friends and I got older going out drinking/dancing was replaced by going out dining. I look forward to the ambiance of a very fancy restaurant just as much as I love the cozy comfort of a more casual one.  I get a kick out of  looking at a menu and seeing combinations that I may not have thought of or those cuisines of nations that are so different than what I grew up with.  Having a beautifully arranged concoction set down before me, the anticipation of that first taste, the smell of the herbs wafting to me....oh, oh, oh...no wonder Meg Ryan chose to have her "yes, yes, yes, ooooooh" moment in a restaurant with Billy Crystal in "When Harry Met Sally". 

Sharing a meal with a date was a great way for me to measure the potential success of a relationship.  I know it seems shallow but over that meal either we found common ground or walked away a little fuller in the stomach and little emptier in the heart.  It could be that as someone who loves to paint and write the artistic, creative aspect of restaurant meals is a large part of the turn on.  As I write this I am thinking of my more memorable meals throughout my travels, dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant, seafood in the south of Spain, discovering sushi, German schnitzel in a beer garden in Munich, and Italy (yeah pretty much not a bad meal fancy or casual there).  I also embrace the movement of small chef owned restaurants that I also loved when we used to go to Brooklyn B.C.(before children) and now are finding all over the Hudson Valley.  These places are for foodies and they are also dedicated to in season, organic, locally grown produce that gives me a good feeling about not destroying the planet for my sons while indulging.  My sons have the bug for going out to eat though they are not going to stray from some usual fare (pasta with butter but with good Parmesan) which all of these places seem to accommodate.    In the end these "wastes of money" are really quite an investment in priceless memories that will last a lifetime for those of us who are foodies.  


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. JRR TOLKIEN

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