*I actually wrote this November 17, 2017, but reflected and posted it June 14, 2018*
I may have subconsciously decided that I wanted to be like Alice Waters after the first time I dined at Chez Panisse. Everything was just so perfect. The warm wooden house, the soft lighting, the not too sweet pear cider, the juicy yet crispy duck, the fucking baguette, and then the champagne snow and berries for dessert. It was four years ago, but I remember our meal vividly. Everything was, or seemed so simple, yet elegant. Each trip has been perfection and a standard of California cuisine and senses I also wish to create.
For my 30th birthday, Chris gave me Alice Waters' most recent book, “Coming to my Senses.” I opened it during lunch, expecting to read the first paragraph for a taste, but instead read the first chapter. I adored it.
She writes of her childhood and I am brought back to mine. I think of my parents, brothers, and those early years where we all lived on Manor together. My palette was so plain, picky, and sheltered then. She travels extensively and I nostalgically remember mine, but regrettably determine I should have been a more diligent recorder of countries, food, and time. While she attended Cal during the Free Speech Movement, she wasn't present for Mario Savio's impassioned speech on stopping the machine's operation.
It is a great speech in its entirety and one to be revisited for its relevancy. Like Alice, I too feel thoroughly connected to politics because everything is political. My aims and desires, I believe, will always have political ends.
And then Alice opens Chez Panisse. Not because she had the experience or money, but because she had a tribe she wanted to entertain, a well traveled palette, and a vision from France she wanted to recreate.
While reading her book I ate entirely too much brie, drank too much wine, sipped on too sweet cider, and loved feeling warm, full, fat, and happy. I reached out to Julia Child episodes some nights, re watched Julie and Julia, but mostly turned to their beauty, humor, and creativity to uplift me from this dark political time and prior office career.
Oeste is weeks away from opening and I feel we, as a team are in a similar position. We haven’t done this before, but we are a well supported group with a well traveled palette. Now it is time to go through our first round of tasting. It is going to be chaos at times, but I know that and I am trying to mentally prepare. This endeavor is chaos and we all must have a vision of doing this for others and being there for them too. For me, there are few greater moments than immersing oneself into conversation, having bites made from the flavors of my people and a perfectly paired wine or “balanced” boozy cocktail. I am ready to create this atmosphere for others.
To me, giving flavors, texture, nutrition, and liquid happiness to people is a sign of love and one’s inner workings. This is the beginning of beautiful, crazy ride. Alice's book couldn't have been timed more perfectly. ¡Ándale!