This entry could be a letter to Jay McInerney in response to his article "It Was Delicious While It Lasted" in October's Vanity Fair. This article is about the Spanish restaurant El Bulli, which will be closing in 2011. Although I like food a lot and do write about it, the world of fine dining is, well, still too fine for me. I knew about Chicago's restaurant scene, but since I don't read much about restaurants (much less pay for the opportunity to eat fancy on a regular basis), I hadn't heard of El Bulli. Should I admit that? Probably not. And probably not to Jay McInerney.
What's the big deal about El Bulli? Molecular gastronomy. It's one of those massive-course meal restaurants (McInerney had about 35 courses during his meal), and everything's deconstructed, which means basically, it's too fancy for me. Yes, I appreciate fine dining once in a while, but I also get tired of fancy food. Even with small portions, the food can be too much. Too much that I don't understand, and after a while, it's too much to even care about. Then again, my brain feels exhausted after listening to "Top Chef" contestants describe their dishes for the judges.
So no letter to McInerney. I'm just not at his level. You know how else I know? Here's a sample sentence from the article:
Anne's [McInerney's wife] two favorite foods in the world are bone marrow and oysters, but she never thought that she'd eat them together, out of an oyster shell, or that the combination would be brilliant.OK, show of hands: Who else here can say that one of your favorite foods is bone marrow?
I certainly can't. And it makes me wonder, how much bone marrow do you have to eat to declare it your favorite food? Do you ever go to a bar for a quick bite and wish they had a bone marrow-infused burger on the menu because you could really go for some marrow right about now? When you're PMS-y, do you wish you could have a carton of marrow? [which then devolves into admitting that I don't know just how marrow is packaged. Do you have to scrape it out of the bone yourself? Does it come in a container that you spoon out, much like ice cream?]
Sentences like these make me realize that I'm not one of them--and that no matter how hard I try to be posh and sophisticated, finding a place that serves a good French fry is more important to me than snagging a reservation to the deconstruction taking place at El Bulli.
So don't look for me begging for a reservation to have the El Bulli experience. I'll be just as happy at home.