Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On the loss of mystery.

I don't want a dissected menu.

Every source listed, the names of the farms, the growing method, the driver of the truck from farm to table.

I know all the reasons it's good to provide that information to diners, but I don't want it. I want to trust a chef to source ethically, and then be utterly surprised by my meal.

I don't want to see pictures of restaurant food before I go there. When I first got my iPhone, I was taken by the ability to make a picture of a beautiful meal and send it to a friend in real time. But even that was about a desire to share an experience with an absent friend, or to record a moment with a loved one, or even a way of responding to something lovely--not so much a cold documentation or a collected badge or a notched culinary bedpost.

Maybe it's the constant noise: the blogs, the tweets, the yelpers, the foursquares. But I can't think of the last time I went into a new restaurant and was seduced by the experience itself: no pre-knowledge, no wonderment about dishes as they appeared, no anticipation building as a chef and his or her team crafted behind closed doors. No slow closing of the eyes as I finally saw and smelled and felt and tasted something and thought:

"this. I did not expect this."

I miss mystery.