When I was very young, I used to love going out to restaurants for meals: the promise of a possibly sinful dessert was too tempting for a sweet-toothed child like me to resist, and vain little thing that I was, I could never pass up a chance to get dressed up, either. I still can’t, by the way, and for me, desserts have since graduated from a dental issue to a bona fide Achilles heel.
Home cooking seemed so boring compared to the fascinating dishes offered up on menus. Sea Urchin? Fish eggs? Goose Liver? To hell with pork chops, when would our housekeeper learn to cook like THAT I’d wonder. Sure, I appreciated a good home-cooked meal every now and then, but restaurant fare was so exciting, so limitless, so….grown up. I could barely wait till I was old enough to take myself out and try everything the world had to offer, one amuse bouche at a time.
Fast forward ten or so years to the present.
I wish I could get as riled up about food as I used to, but what with maturing taste buds and getting cranky in my old age, I find myself getting more and more disappointed with every restaurant I eat at. And I haven’t been limiting myself to the Swiss Chalets of the gourmet world, either. My mother, quite a foodie herself, has never begrudged me the opportunity to dine at the best restaurants or order the most extravagant thing on the menu. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel a lot for someone my age, which has broadened my cuisine horizons considerably. Yet, no matter how positive I try to be, I’ve been continually disappointed by almost every restaurant I’ve eaten at recently. Believe me, I really try to enjoy myself despite encounters with bone-dry filet mignon, literally tasteless risotto, congealed seafood, and, very memorably, food poisoning (from a five start restaurant, no less), but even I have my limits.
I think the time has come to announce my temporary retirement from everything gourmet. Goodbye blinis, its pancakes from here on out. Farewell pecorino romano, processed cheese hasn’t killed anyone yet. Take care, black truffles – I’ll miss you over my salmon sashimi, but soy sauce is just going to have to do.
I’ll eventually return to all my wallet-busting bad habits, I’m sure, but – and you might think me plebian for saying this – I think I’ll work on exploring food in all its simplistic glory for a while. At the very least to build a stronger appreciation for all the home-style comfort food I so callously shunned when I was a little girl. So wish me luck, all, as I probe the balance between low cooking and high style.