What is it about one good meal? Lately, everything I eat tastes tired. I am tired of my old standbys, tired of the places where I eat lunch. Sarah has been cooking some new dishes and they are good, but not exciting. I want to taste food that makes me want to cook it, makes me wonder how they got that flavor, and makes me admire the control the chef had over the ingredient. Sarah and I disagree on when something is done and I end up cooking to please her. I want something done the way I want it without a discussion or a compromise.
I had the swordfish over potato puree and Swiss chard with an orange au jus at Chez Albert tonight. Sitting at the bar, eating alone, tasting the food and identifying the ingredients. Cilantro over the swordfish? The saffron aioli was nowhere to be seen, perhaps melted over the swordfish, but no matter. The fish was done au point–perfectly. Cooked, juicy, even a little creamy, it was the swordfish you always think you’re ordering before the dry piece of meat is placed in front of you.. I tasted every bite, swirling it in a little orange au jus, chewing slowly.
I love to eat alone, especially at a good restaurant. I am alone with my words and the memories they evoke. Chez Albert brings out the Francophile so I thought about Jake’s dinner with a poule in Paris in the Sun Also Rises, and remember Laurie’s poet friend Doug, now dead, ordering a simple glass of pinot noir while we sat in a small restaurant in Paris waiting for Laurie and Greg so we could start dinner, I looked at the bottles behind the bar and thought that in Paris, there would be more Scotch, more Martinique Rhum. I sat, overhearing the various conversations, drinking in the friendships. acquaintanceships, strangers who are sitting beside me. Without conversation, I spend my time eating and tasting. You can tell an old married couple–they eat without talking–but Sarah and I do talk, about things great and small. But the simple pleasure of tasting food without a book, a companion, or any other distraction, is a rare and delicious thing.
I recommend it.