I guess I hadn't read much about the French Laundry before. I mean, everyone knows that they're the fanciest deal in town (town being the world, fifty years in either direction), and that Thomas Keller is the Agronius Hype (Iliad god-chef that I made up) of the modern age. Before Ferran Adrià split the disbelief molecule, before Bobby Flay wore Vuarnets and Gotcha jams to Pomp and Circumstance at the FCI commencement, Keller was kempt and self-flagellating, the "mad monk" of the gastronomic world. I need to sneak into that kitchen and watch them in action. For now, though, I'm going to finish this Michael Ruhlman book that Chris left on the couch.
Here's a funny bit. The French Laundry is considered one of the most serious kitchens in the world, equal to if not superior to any Michelin three-star brigade. For their first few months in the mid-90s, however, the cooks started every service with a tape of this song:
(George Baker, "Little Green Bag.")
Isn't that great? You can picture Alice Waters, 80 miles away in Berkeley, sautéing morels with the nose of an age-pocked Remington six-shooter she picked up off some blanket sale on Telegraph Avenue. Suede fringe on the arms of her tie-dyed chef jacket. Easier times, man. Rent on every building was six dollars, flat. The Internet? Nah, my sister got pretty confused and bored with Gopher, thanks. San Francisco may as well have been Dubuque. The web was a site with pi to 50,000 places and the AOL "under construction" page. Alice got on the back of Peter Fonda's chopper after service every night and flipped off America until they attained highway speeds, at which point she nestled her cheek between his shoulder blades and dreamed of making love in a mesclun-strewn bed.
From the sound of it, I bet there's a nice set of rafters above the kitchen where I can keep tabs on things. Might even bring a telescoping fork and an insulated burp-bag. Wish me luck.