This is about contrasts. Some might call this a story of gluttony vs. starvation, but I prefer to see this as a change of pace, a bit of variety, or a touch of moderation.
Last night, I enjoyed an excellent meal at one of the world’s best three star restaurants. The food was plentiful and included taste sensations that are difficult to produce. Anyone not understanding costs of the best ingredients or cooking processes would not understand the price of such a meal. I found the cost to be reasonable, considering the ambience, service, and...well, every aspect of the experience.
Tonight, on the other hand, I enjoyed a meal fit for a...peasant (one with good taste). I sliced a tomato, sprinkled it with Fleur de sel, the best salt you can use, and added mayonnaise--not the product of a chemical plant, but the French variety with a touch of Dijon mustard added. With that, I had baguette and butter from Bretagne. Heaven, as simple often can be.
Many years ago, we ate at a one star restaurant in France. I was surprised to be served a sliced tomato with mayonnaise...until I ate it. One expects elaborate creations from starred restaurants, but Nouvelle Cuisine dictates simplicity...as long as that simplicity is the best you can serve. That meals taught me to enjoy simple, like I did tonight.
Both meals were excellent, but each required a suitable setting and state of mind. That’s what makes food so great: variety and contrasts.
I had a very pleasant dining experience last night. It was to celebrate my wife’s birthday, which she did not want to acknowledge. A fine dinner was acceptable.
We often travel to France to enjoy meals at starred restaurants. We are believers in the Michelin sect. There is a restaurant in the next town, which we usually ignore. It has a star, but its proximity tends to tarnish its appeal. There is something about driving to France, which enhances any fine dining experience. Last night, I discovered our mistake. It was one of the best meals I have had; I can’t imagine how it could have been improved. The wine was equally perfect for the occasion.
I doubt that many will be in the vicinity of Frankfurt. But, if you ever are and want a great dining experience (it’s more than just a “meal”), then try to get a table at Hessler in Dornigheim (a few miles east of Frankfurt). It’s any unattractive town with no tourist appeal, but the restaurant makes the trip on an ugly street worth taking. Once inside and enjoying the experience, location and route do not matter. Of course, one must be willing to leave behind more than one might for a Happy Meal, but the pleasure is exponentially greater.
Next time, when my yearning leads to thoughts of France, I will set my sights on a place closer to home and that requires a shorter drive. I will be contributing to saving the planet, without suffering a decline in earring pleasure.
The big news in England is about McDonalds putting calorie counts on menus. The move comes, in part, from a government drive to combat obesity and improve health. Changing menus is easy, but achieving the objectives is never gonna happen. History in the United States proves the futility of such efforts.
I recall a similar drive, starting the in the early 1980’s (could have been earlier, but I did not notice) to make citizens more health conscious. There have been “drives” and “programs” and “warnings” and whatnot ever since. Food companies began at that time to offer “healthy” products (I worked for an advertising agency, so knew that the underlying thrust was profit) and to print more information on packages. What has been the result of years of effort? Americans have become fatter and less healthy. Even Oprah could not reel in the growing epidemic...or whatever you want to call it.
There is a simple explanation: human weakness. I came to this conclusion after hearing a statement during an interview with an overweight man in a program on obesity in America. He spoke for all his obese brothers and sisters of all ages. “It all tastes so good,” he said, when asked about why he does not change eating habits. Humans have weakness for sugar, salt, and fat, and neither government programs nor calorie counts on menus can change human nature...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.