2024.09 : Eat With

The Orchard Circa 2024

All the ornaments of your life can be small, but if you can step back and look at them all together, they can be quite dazzling.

— Ze Frank

Somehow managed to meet friends for dinner and a second serving of the movie ‘The Taste of Things.’ I mentioned it in last week’s photo essay. It was even better the second time. Hoping to get in a third indulgence before it leaves the theaters. When I asked my friend what he thought, he gave me a good laugh with his flourish in having enjoyed it, ‘I have never seen so much porn, food porn.’

Contrast that with the couple in their sixties who were walking in front of us as we left, all headed to the restrooms. She asks him, ‘Did you like it?’ He said he did and returned the question. Her reply I will never forget. ‘There was too much cooking!’ A film that took place 98% in a manor in the French countryside, particularly in the kitchen and dining room, about two cooks who love to cook, and loved each other. About friends who love to eat together. About the most adorable protege discovering their culinary exceptional talent. ‘Too much cooking,’ and what does she propose the filmmakers substitute? Even a masterpiece can’t please all the plebs.

I suffer this life because nuance and humility are so rare. It never crossed her mind to reply along the lines of, ‘That was so beautiful, a cook I am not.’

What I still found amusing is her reply is now tied with what I heard another woman say in another place and time I thought would never be matched.

In the before times, I was a happy community member of EatWith.com. Talented cooks invite small groups of visitors to their home kitchens for culinary adventures. My buddy and I once attended one in Manhattan where the cook served white tablecloth restaurant-quality Indian cuisine. Spectacular.

While making small talk with a mother and daughter, they mentioned how disappointed they were in their dining experience at Per Se the night before. Before I could ask why, the chef had us seated for the next course. Later that evening, I fully intended to circled back to get the details. It was important to me for many reasons.

Chef Keller. It is impossible in this essay to convey how special Chef Keller is to the culinary world. To get just a taste, you can watch the still-missed Anthony Bourdain’s grand attempt in the companion video below.

The most stars Michelin awards a restaurant is three. In its 100-year history, very few chefs in the world have ever had two three-star restaurants operating concurrently. And only one American chef. Chef Keller. Per Se and the legendary The French Laundry.

The following night, I had reservations at Per Se, and now I’m hearing from a disappointed diner. The story of my plus one will be a future essay. It’s not whatever just crossed your mind.

The opportunity finally came back around to ask this woman what went so wrong. She recounted, ‘You know they only have a full-course menu. Actually, they have two of those menus. One is a vegetarian full-course menu. My daughter and I chose that one….. Well… We stopped enjoying the meal halfway through… There were… just… too many… vegetables!‘

You read that right. A Michelin 3-star restaurant vegetarian menu had too many vegetables. I actually know what she meant, but couching it in a criticism of one of the best restaurants in the world instead of just saying something humorously self-aware, ‘Perfectly prepared and presented, it goes to show I do kinda miss meat at times.’

This week’s photo is the first bloom of the year, photographed at night. Top to bottom, left to right: Plum, Apricot, Nectarine. All of which will get my best attempt to honor ‘The Taste of Things.’

And now… know the photograph.

Anthony Bourdain A Cooks Tour: The French Laundry Experience

Photography & Story In Your Inbox
Newsletter : Fan Signup : Form 18

Let's not lose touch!

I invite you to join for free our ever growing community with your email address below. Each week you'll get the latest Photo Essay, where story and photography meet. As well as any news related to our community. 

Don't put it off. Join us today!

Rest assured your information is never shared nor sold.  Unsubscribe at anytime.