Friday, May 1, 2009

gastronomic roots

I really admire Alice Waters. Her restaurant, Chez Panisse in San Francisco, broke ground in America by serving fresh local foods with a true French influence at a time when the returning GIs were just talking about it . Alice believes that our country, as a melting pot, has no gastronomic roots. She contends that immigrants wanted to leave their recipes behind with their old lives and start anew. Her assessment may sound nice but it really doesn’t fit my experience. Growing up in the Philadelphia area the ethnic foods abounded. Just one example, Italian and Sicilian foods, makes Alice in desperate need of a field trip to the Italian Market there. Ingredients from Italy, the cakes, the bread, the pasta, the sauces as well as local produce. Perhaps the Italians and Sicilians really worked to take their cuisine to a new level with a variety of ingredients. While the food in Italy can be regional, Italian food in America tends to be a massive banquet of many varieties, where in one restaurant one can experience a Tuscan appetizer with a Neapolitan main course washed down with a Sicilian red. I admire Alice a great deal for her pioneer cooking spirit and her belief in the beauty of the ingredient. But Alice may be the wrong person to advise the White House on foods. I believe they should hire Michael Anastasio instead. Emily and I split a plate of gnocchi last night. This marks our “second quarter” serving, the first being in February. We will be allowed to have another gnocchi night in the third quarter, July-Sep. Yum.

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