A Walkman, an old Honda, my Rachael Ray cookbooks - the world is full of my cast-off objects. The allure of the material is fleeting and instant. The allure of cuisine endures.
I carry distinct memories of first tastes, such as oysters at Acme in New Orleans, 1928 Cheval Blanc in the studio kitchen at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and Laurent Gras' lacquered pork belly at the Fifth Floor in San Francisco. My mind reels at the list of special meals: white truffles in December, Brillat-Savarin cheese in summer, a surreptitious taste of foie gras while I was running up the service stairs some twenty years ago.
We come together at a table for many reasons -- to celebrate, to laugh, to declare war. The material fades but the tastes and aromas linger, direct links to our most primal instincts and the only true sensual pleasure we share in a room full of strangers.